Sadie Parkinson

Marketing Manager

Best approaches and things to consider

Law firms process a lot of sensitive data when fulfilling their legal and admin duties, and managing all of that data securely is something that simply doesn’t get taught about on the average law degree. With technology changing much faster than the law does, many law professionals get a bit overwhelmed when it comes to digital law management. Fret not, we are going to show you some of the best choices you can make and approaches you can take when carefully embedding more technology into your law firm. 

It’s important to embrace the technological side and accept that IT support for law firms is a necessary component of growth and development. Investment in great systems and processes can protect you and support your high standards for the long run.  So, first of all, we are going to be looking at the technological foundations of your business…

 

Choosing the Right System and Software

Mac vs PC

Whether your law firm chooses Apple or Windows devices will underpin almost every IT decision made after this point. Macs and PCs offer a lot of the same functions at the user level, but when you look under the hood, they are quite different. 

Now, Macs are typically aimed at forward-thinking progressives who do a lot of independent work and are often on the move. They are missing a lot of key ports, such as HDMI and USB, and require a lot of adapters in order to meet the same functionality as a PC. Think about connecting an extra monitor or a printer – it’s much easier with a PC.

In 2021, most young people are Mac users, so consider that for the future of your firm when making your decision. There are pros and cons to each, yet it’s not impossible to run your organisation with a combination, as long as your setup is handled by professionals.

 

Cloud vs the Server

Let’s be straight, the traditional server is dying. Cloud-based technologies are here, and here to stay, mainly because they offer 24/7 access to your data in the simplest way possible. Physical servers essentially died when email, file storage, and SaaS presented a far superior method on the Cloud. 

Thanks to amazing Cloud-based tech companies, you can get a system completely tailored to your business that is affordable, secure, and easy to manage. Because everything is connected to the internet, any updates or new features are handled without the need for an individual to visit your premises and physically upgrade your server.

 

Additional Backup System vs Cloud Dependence

We love the Cloud, and your law firm should too, but that’s not where your file storage efforts should stop. You should always pursue an additional backup system instead of being dependent on Cloud services. With thousands of private and sensitive documents to protect, losing this data could seriously harm your firm’s reputation and even lose a case. Protecting client data is another way of building trust.

The Cloud should be your primary data storage method, but a backup system must be introduced and managed by a professional IT support company that has the tech, know-how, and cybersecurity experience to make your system impervious to human or system error.

 

Law Practice Management Tools vs Client Management System

Most businesses use a client management system (CMS) to keep on top of their leads, their sales, their client contact information, and much more. These systems are incredibly useful for converting leads into sales, and for generally managing the business, but they’re also useful for law firms too. We assume there are plenty of law firms out there using a general CMS, blissfully unaware that there are law practice management tools that go beyond the tools of a CMS and offer features such as:

 

  • Court deadlines
  • Online collaboration with clients
  • Time tracking and billing
  • Contact management
  • Calendar scheduling
  • Invoicing

 

Role-based Access Control vs Open system

With a role-based access control (RBAC) system, every employee has access only to the things that they are permitted to, helping to manage internal threats, whether accidental or not. These systems can track pretty much every click, all of the incoming traffic, what is looked at, edited, or deleted and basically everything that a user is doing. It’s not even worth considering an open system with the importance placed on data security and also GDPR these days (unless you’re a solo practitioner).

 

Email vs Messaging House

Some lawyers and their clients prefer to transact information via email, some on the phone, and some by fax, but in 2021, the best way to keep in regular contact with a client is through an online portal or messaging house. This offers a safe, secure, and convenient way to talk to clients, keep them updated on their cases, and give them access to the information they need. This is about customer service and client management and can tie into the law practice management software that offers ultra-modern document sharing, invoicing, and comms features.

 

Matching your IT needs to your business’ size

If your law firm is a small, family-run outfit, or just a minimalist team of professionals, it probably doesn’t make sense to try and match businesses like Kirkland & Ellis or Latham & Watkins in terms of IT management, security, and software. You have to consider your size, your budget, and what your clients require of you.

 

Small Firms or Independent Practitioners

If your firm has ten or fewer lawyers, your work is likely to be far more localised, providing services in a smaller geographical area. This means that many of the more complicated concerns of IT management for a global law firm are already negated. However, it does still mean that you will need efficient IT support for your firm, especially with file storage, management, and security, which carry the same risks as large firms. In fact, smaller law firms are most guilty when it comes to underestimating the potential damage a cyberattack can do, thinking that they are small fry and nobody would want to bother them. 

One breach can spell the end for a small law firm, so consider that when you assess your available budget for security and tech services.

 

Larger Firms

These full-service legal operations can offer hundreds or even thousands of lawyers, spread all around the world, handling different international laws and issues. Due to this globalised service network, large firms need to be able to perform without being restricted by location, which means a sturdy cloud-based system for sharing files, permitting remote access, backing up files, and more.

A large law firm can be toppled by a serious breach just as much as a small one can, further highlighting how serious it is to bring in IT experts to shore up your defences. 

 

Being aware of the biggest threats

Before we leave you, we want to let you know what the three biggest IT threats are to law firms in 2021:

  1. Employees using their own devices instead of the official hardware provided by the firm. This is hugely risky when it comes to private client information management, but can be done properly with the right tech support
  2. A lack of training and education makes a company vulnerable. If your teams don’t know what the threats are, how to prevent them, or even the best personal security measures, there is a big issue there. We can offer IT support to law firms that will raise the general level of knowledge in your organisation
  3. Failing to modernise cybersecurity is something that causes issues far too often. Cyber Attackers are evolving rapidly, and your defences need to match their efforts. Sensitive data is their goal, and your law firm needs to stop an attacker from getting near it. Firewalls and anti-virus might not be enough

Do you have any more questions about IT support for law firms and the best approaches and things to consider? Reach out to us by email at: [email protected]

 

Published: 13th September 2021