March 9th, 2010 by Rian Gauvreau
We count Ross Kodner, a leading legal technology consultant and founder of MicroLaw, as a friend here at Clio, but Ross has always harbored some reservations about SaaS in the legal space. Over the last couple of years we’ve enjoyed participating in some healthy debates with Ross both in person and in listservs such as SOLOSEZ on a variety topics relating to SaaS. However, despite our best efforts, we seemed unable to win him over on the merits of SaaS over traditional desktop software.
Having heard enough of the rhetoric, and sufficiently debated the issues of accessibility, ethics, and security, Ross, like many others, has grown weary of the moot debate over the validity of SaaS in the legal space, and called for the industry to shift its discussion towards more relevant topics:
This debate is perpetually mired in concerns about accessibility, ethics, and security. It’s time to move past these nonissues and focus on more relevant issues that will enable SaaS products to mature into mainstream small firm products.
We’ve written extensively on the topics of accessibility, ethics and security on this blog, and while they remain important issues that should be properly investigated before selecting a SaaS provider, it is refreshing to see a call from an industry stalwart such as Ross to advance the discussion from hypothetical risks to how SaaS can truly help users:
The small firm legal SaaS world can most certainly succeed. SaaS vendors should focus on promoting functionality first, while methodically shoring up their services’ perceived and/or real weaknesses in the two fundamental areas of platform criticism. Address and end the current stalemate and grow up SaaS — the small firm market is ready for and needs you.
Let us be among the first to welcome this breath of fresh air to stale discussion. Thank-you Ross.
Although Ross rightly points out that the ethical and confidentiality considerations inherent to “the Cloud” should always be properly weighed, we heartily agree with Ross’ acknowledgement that “SaaS makes sense” for small firms, and that it is time both SaaS cynics and vendors shed the trappings of a debate over “non issues” and concentrate on “shifting the debate to what really matters to users”. On this note, we’re eagerly awaiting the host of new innovations that will undoubtedly be revealed by SaaS vendors at this year’s ABA TechShow, and look forward to a 2010 that’s focused on customer-centric product development with an emphasis on functionality over familiarity.
2010 is shaping out to be an exciting year for legal SaaS.