Working at a law firm is demanding work. Even if you are a managing partner or a clerk, you likely work long hours and perform a multitude of tasks. Because of this, maximizing efficiency is key to staying relevant and successful in this fast-paced industry. The best way to accomplish this is to prioritize well-functioning technology in this digital age. This is a big task for your already busy team, but a great alternative is to partner with an IT management team. In the next 4 minutes, you’ll learn what to avoid when looking for an IT partner.
Less time spent on your IT is more time spent processing cases and meeting with clients. Despite the clear benefits, many law firms are still unfamiliar with what to look for when hiring an IT partner. Keep this list in mind when outsourcing IT to help you steer clear of costly decisions and push you ahead of your competitors.
1. Not Hiring At All
Almost half of law firms are unaware that they could increase the efficiency of their office by optimizing their use of technology. According to the American Bar Association’s 2018 Techreport, only 57% of law firms budget for technology. Law firms can benefit from technology with software programs such as e-Discovery and ESI, the acronym for Electronically Stored Information. Of course, law firms can take advantage of these technologies without hiring an IT partner, but it can be time-consuming and require technical knowhow to get them setup properly. A strikingly large percentage of firms are falling behind their competitors by neglecting the role technology can play in their office. The first manifestations of artificial intelligence can be transformative; document review software, legal project management software and e-billing are all available to take care of menial tasks costing you countless hours.
By adding a qualified IT partner to your financial plan, your team (and client) will benefit from more efficient operations and streamlined communication, leading to happier employees and customers. If a technological issue does arise, you’ll have experts on hand to solve the problem and minimize resultant losses. From this optimal position, your firm can work with a peace of mind and an edge over the competition. In addition, IT services are required by law to sign NDAs and SLAs, meaning airtight protection against information leaks and superlative, reliable support. It is important that your team remain vigilant throughout the hiring process, as top-tier IT talent is a rare commodity, and it is likely all of your top candidates have several other employers at their heels.
2. Choosing Price over Quality
The aforementioned report also states that 95% of lawyers prioritize the reputation of their IT partner while making a decision of whom to hire. This near-perfect statistic is expected; law firms expect to receive the same level of exceptional service that they provide to their clients. The shiny appeal of an IT provider employed by the likes of Samsung, Lexus, or Keurig should not be a distraction. Those big-name companies will always be tended to with the utmost attention and diligence, meaning your firm will not receive the kind of support necessary if a more important customer is dealing with a disaster.
On the other hand, many law firms have been deceived by sneaky IT businesses that lured them in with low prices but then failed to follow through with dependable service. Compared to standard businesses, law firms must be hyper-protective of their client’s data.
Additionally, an essential facet of a quality IT hire is 24/7 support. An increasing number of law firms are moving towards cloud computing, and structuring your firm on the cloud benefits everyone; attorneys and other employees gain the ability to work remotely, at all times of the day. This Stanford study showed that the flexible work schedule enabled by cloud computing increases employee productivity while simultaneously decreasing stress. Working a nontraditional schedule leaves you and your team prone to technological issues at all hours of the day. If you invest in quality service from a dedicated IT provider, your firm will receive around the clock phone support and rapid field visits. When transitioning into the modern era of remote working, investing in a quality IT partner is worth every penny.
The combination of vulnerable data and modern work environments means that you must demand impeccable customer service and a driven work ethic from your chosen IT support. If you skimp out on a reputable provider just because someone offered a better price, you’ll find yourself not only frustrated with the quality of service you’re receiving, but you’ll also be at risk to have your data compromised. But, if your law firm partners with a reputable IT provider, you can expect to receive outstanding assistance; in the IT industry, you get what you pay for.
3. Settling for IT Providers Who Aren’t Familiar with the Legal Industry
When it comes to protecting and accessing data, law firms have more responsibility than traditional businesses. It is required by the courts that information is accessed through protected databases, and missteps can result in severe consequences.
Software programs such as e-Discovery and ESI are specific technologies used only by law firms. The protocol to use these tools is heavily regulated, making the intensive process of collecting information from online databases, sorting and reviewing this material, and storing it in an electronic format no easy task. When the information is ready to use as evidence in a case, it should be well protected and easy to access. Because the responsibility of holding sensitive information is a large burden for law firms to bear, your IT partner should be familiar with the regulations of e-Discovery and how to correctly store ESI. When your technology provider is familiar with the legal industry, your firm will not have to waste time teaching them about rules and regulations while handholding them in the on-boarding process.
How to Avoid These Pitfalls
Now that you are aware of the top mistakes that law firms make while hiring an IT partner, you’re equipped to choose the best option for your firm. Keep some of these tips in mind as you search for an IT management team:
- Seek out IT specialists with a good-standing reputation and mid-range size. Businesses that offer recommendations and publish customer ratings show they are qualified, and companies more tailored to the size of your business will continue to work hard to accommodate your needs.
- Do not let strikingly competitive prices sway you. In the end, the money you spend on an IT partner will save all members of your firm time and the quality of the service you receive will be more important than an unrealistically low price tag.
- Find an IT partner that is familiar with providing services for law firms. They have the ability to provide the field-specific services that your team needs.
Compared to conventional businesses, law firms have lofty responsibilities that demand heavy workloads and long hours. Outsourcing to a managed IT partner will eliminate the need to focus on mundane technological tasks, thereby increasing the efficiency of you and your team.