Does your law office have any ambitions to grow?
Not exponentially, at least in terms of staff. I don't expect us to top 20 bodies at any time during the useful life of this hardware. But I do expect more and more courts to go the way of the federal system with PACER/ECF. In fact, one of our local jurisdictions is already e-Filing. And we are increasingly able to get, say, squad car video in digital formats. So I do expect our data volume to increase at a rapid clip. We're at ~100 GB now; I don't want anything less than 2 TB of storage room.
Otherwise, we're too small for Sharepoint and one person handles our books with a local install of QuickBooks.
That said, I'd rather get a dropbox or carbonite style service but work off of local copies for our hour-to-hour needs. We're on a DSL connection and I have not been delighted by any cloud-based word processor I've tried.
3. Legal documents are written using serious software, not trivial web apps. They have numerous technical requirements and typographical conventions that must be strictly adhered to, in some cases to the point where courts will specify the precise font you must use for all submissions, for example. You don't write this sort of thing in Google Docs, where the concept of a cross-reference has yet to appear and the numbering styles available are one small step past "numbered" and "not numbered".
We have fifteen years worth of investment in carefully styled MS Word documents. Format matters, not just for courts, but for clients who expect a certain level of professionalism and consistency. Telling a client, "Yeah it looks all funny because we decided to start using iGoogleBook's TweetDocs and haven't got it all figured out yet," does not inspire confidence. Also, our best typists are 80 wpm and/or using keyboard shortcuts as a matter of spinal reflex. Cloud document services just aren't there yet.
With Windows, I'd call myself a power user, but I'm no full fledged network admin. I'm not intimidated by a CLI and a bit of a learning curve, but I don't have commands memorized, either. With *nix, I'm only slightly more skilled than a monkey banging on the keyboard at random.
Clients emphatically do not have access to our file server. Quite a few of them are facing very serious criminal charges, and a certain number might even be guilty. Frequently a client will want to send us files; we accept those by e-mail or physical media. Occasionally a client will ask for a copy of his file; we're pleased to burn that to CD-ROM.
At present, we do not have an FTP server. We'd had a fairly hefty network (for a business of our size, at least) set up back in 2008, but I'm not married to anything so long as we can get access to our files at off hours and on the road.
Right now, we're a two attorney firm (me and my boss, who's very game but a little green when it comes to tech), looking to hire a third. We also have a pool of about five support staffers. We all have to be able to access one another's files - I'll write a memo to file, which Boss will review, the he'll dictate a letter for Paralegal A, who asks Paralegal B to help her find the recipient addresses and print off the enclosures, and then back to Paralegal A who scans and files the outgoing letter to our correspondence. The paralegals are high turnover, and prone to downloading scamware. I do what I can viz education and virus removal, but there are limits. We also travel cross-country with a specialty arbitration practice we have, and need to be able to access client files from the road.
As to what our server doesn't do, we POP into our e-mail, use Google Calendar for our scheduling, and have our simple little WordPress website hosted offsite. No real reason to change this at this point.
I'm not OK with former co-workers making backups and carrying them off; no attorney is. But I'm even less OK with trying to parcel out file access on a case-by-case and employee-by-employee basis
* IAN Your Lawyer. Do not take legal advice from strangers on the Internet.