Most lawyers are anything but incompetent. With a broad educational base covering dozens of different topics and a daily routine of battling it out in court, those who find themselves in the legal profession often find their days full of hearings and mediations and calls and lunches.
Which leaves precious little time for the most significant part of any business in 2023: information technology. The reality is law firms, like all professions nowadays, need to have a robust, reliable IT ecosystem to succeed.
Ask any lawyer and they’ll tell you straight up: “we know!” and yet, so few law firms properly set themselves up for IT success. According to IT analysts Gartner, business owners see a 20% increase in profits with an effective IT management plan.
The simplest reason most lawyers have obsolete or inadequate IT plans is simple: lawyers are busy people, so they rarely have time to take care of the IT update so many lawyers need. And even if they did have the time, most lawyers have limited IT knowledge – asking a lawyer to overhaul their firm’s IT is like asking an IT professional to defend a person in court!
This is where managed IT services come in. Lawyers across the world are seeing the benefits of hiring someone to take care and ownership over the absurdly complicated web of IT software and hardware that makes law firms tick.
In this article, we’ll check out some of the IT-related needs you may have for your law firm – and how you can get an expert to make it run even more efficiently.
The Role of IT Services in Law Firms
Law firms, like any other business, rely heavily on technology for their day-to-day operations. From managing case files and client information to facilitating communication and ensuring data security, the role of IT in a law firm is indispensable.
IT Services: The Backbone of Law Firms
A reliance on IT systems to work seamlessly, 24/7, is becoming an increasingly important need for all businesses, across industries – and law firms are no exception. In 2022, IT spending on enterprise software amounted to around $783 billion worldwide, a growth of 7.1 percent from the previous year2. This figure underscores the significant investment law firms are making in IT services to bolster their operations.
IT services for law firms encompass a wide range of solutions designed to cater to the unique needs of the legal industry. These services include managing and maintaining the firm’s hardware and software, providing ongoing technical support for all users, cybersecurity operations, and facilitating compliance with any law-related industry regulations.
In the modern law firm, the IT department is the backbone that supports all operations. If you’ve ever had to dig through a deposition late at night and the internet goes down, you know how far-reaching and catastrophic the consequences can be. By outsourcing IT to an MSP, law firms can make sure that experts are handling the critical-yet-delicate web of IT that makes law firms tick.
IT is not just essential, it can also be a massive competitive advantage for your firm – saving time, energy, and money spent on outdated or inefficient software or hardware. It’s not just about fixing computer glitches or troubleshooting software issues; it’s about creating a secure, efficient, and productive digital environment that enables lawyers to do their best work.
Managed IT Services for Law Firms: A Growing Trend
With the increasing complexity of IT systems and the growing threats to data security, many law firms are turning to managed IT services to help them. These services allow law firms to outsource their IT operations to a team of experts, enabling them to focus on, you know, the whole practicing-the-law-thing.
In fact, it’s kind of like an IT business owner hiring some lawyers to whip up some contracts. What seems impossible to the IT person is a Wednesday afternoon for a team of well-trained lawyers. So it is with IT for law firms – staying in your lane and hiring experts for what you don’t know is a great way to maximize every single dollar you spend.
As IT becomes more and more complex, it’s starting to become a no-brainer for law firms who want to not only protect themselves but also stay on the cutting edge of coming tech trends.
The Benefits of IT Services for Law Firms
Staying Ahead with the Latest Technology
One of the key benefits of IT services for law firms is the ability to stay up-to-date with the latest technology. In fact, one of the key benefits of outsourcing your law firm’s IT is that you basically go on autopilot and let them handle the whole digital arms race going on online.
Managed IT service providers are a wealth of information when it comes to opportunities and threats that exist for law firms, both existing ones and ones just over the horizon.
Which email client to use; what accounting software is best for your business; how to set up Microsoft Teams video chat for your new conference room – if it’s IT-related, your managed IT partner will be able to analyze the situation and provide the best options for your law firm.
The reality is that lawyers simply do not have the time to read every Ars Technica article or to trawl the dark web for coming threats. That’s your managed IT service provider’s job!
Ensuring Hardware Maintenance and Upgrades
Although the technology lawyers use has largely leveled out, from a hardware perspective, maintaining and upgrading hardware remains a critical concern for law firms. Managed IT providers play a pivotal role in supporting firms with hardware maintenance and upgrades.
They monitor the firm’s systems to ensure all tools are functioning optimally and alert law firms if any issues need to be addressed.
Hardware performance in particular is a key factor in the overall efficiency of a law firm – slow computers, network issues, or outdated equipment are all bottlenecks that can choke your firm’s efficiency out like an MMA fighter.
If you’re looking around your office and see a bunch of ThinkBooks from 1984…you might want to call a Managed IT partner.
Crafting IT Services That Fit Your Law Firm
The pandemic has forever changed how we work, and law firms – though a more traditional business than most – have seen these changes, too.
Clio’s 2022 Legal Trends report saw that most lawyers spend roughly 13 days in the office per week, with many working hybrid jobs of some days in office, and some days working from home. While this is only roughly half the month, 56% of law firms still maintain an in-office setting.
Whether you’re part of the old school or you’re encouraging more flexible work lifestyles, having hardware and software that can support both in-house and external employee work in an efficient, robust way is critical.
Managed IT providers are great in this use case! Any good MSP can adapt their solutions to your problems, offering expert advice to bridge any gaps or to shore up any holes in your operations. This allows you to maximize your resources when it comes to your employees and their work habits.
Protecting Your (And Your Customer’s Data)
Data security is a paramount concern for law firms, given the sensitive nature of the information they handle – but over a quarter of law firms still get hacked!
That’s right – according to the American Bar Association’s 2022 Cybersecurity Report, 27% of law firms have experienced a data breach. That’s way too many, guys!
Again, this is where bringing in the IT service big guns can make a massive difference. In this instance, you’ll be looking for MSSPs or Managed Security Service Providers. These cybersecurity experts specialize in shielding your clients’ data from prying eyes and prodding fingers.
In addition to ensuring software security like firewalls and updating hardware to patch up any possible breaches, MSSPs are great at helping companies protect against the easiest way into any organization’s data – humans – via cybersecurity training, protocols, and best practices.
Clients Care About Law Firm IT…No, Really!
Finally, clients care about your firm’s security. Law firms handle thousands of documents and pieces of media that are critically important to someone’s private life – in many cases, the data you have could ruin their entire reputation forever.
When you think about it that way, it makes sense why clients care whether your law firm’s IT is up to snuff – and more people are asking firms about it. According to the American Bar Association’s 2022 Cybersecurity Report, 33% of law firm clients asked for audit information about a firm’s IT infrastructure, with cybersecurity in particular at front of mind.
It seems having strong IT is becoming a bigger necessity for attracting clients by the day.
We’re going to put it bluntly: if your law firm doesn’t have a team of IT experts – either internally or externally – your business is in jeopardy.
It might not seem like it, and nothing bad might happen, but the reality is that every day you wait to “get around” to overhauling your IT is another day where your business could be severely affected by hackers or worse.