Four Important Ways That Law Firms Can Benefit from an Expert Technology Partner
Competing in the legal services market has become an increasingly difficult affair. While the demand for legal services has stayed mostly flat since the Great Recession of 2008, an increasing number of non-traditional service providers are challenging long-held industry conventions and introducing uncertainty to an already competitive market.
A common thread behind all the changes facing the legal services market is the emergence of new and disruptive technology. According to a report from the International Legal Technology Association entitled, Legal Technology Future Horizons, 73% of respondents representing more than 440 major law firms agree that, “the capacity for rapid, IT-enabled innovation will be a critical differentiator for law firms in the future.”
But where should law firms begin? Below we’ll look at four areas where we think law firms in Ohio would be wise to focus their energies and explain how a technology partner can help them stay ahead of the technological curve.
Eliminate Data Silos to Increase Law Firm Efficiency
Many line-of-business applications in the legal services field, such as document management systems, billing systems, and eDiscovery systems will create “data silos” or “data stovepipes,” repositories of data that are inaccessible to other IT systems or software applications. Because data can’t move into or out of these isolated systems, data silos are known to hurt office efficiency and cause loses in productivity. The inefficiency they cause can be particularly serious in law firms that are still reliant on paper records or have a poorly implemented hybrid digital-paper system.
A technology services firm with a deep understanding of the legal services field can help you integrate these disparate systems and get them working together in greater harmony. Streamlining the workflows in your office with better coordination saves your firm time, money, and can increase employee morale.
Increase Workforce Mobility for a More Productive Staff
Law firms across the country are embracing mobile technology and allowing for more flexible work arrangements. According to the American Bar Association’s 2017 TECHREPORT, nearly 100% of lawyers have used some sort of mobile computing tools to perform a portion of their professional duties.
As a key part of your technology strategy, you’ll want to ensure that your attorneys are ready to succeed in this era of increased mobility. This means implementing an enterprise mobility management (EMM) strategy to ensure that smartphones, tablets, and laptops are synchronized and secure. Good EMM will enable your lawyers and staff to access and edit briefs, client records, billing information, and other documents from outside the office without compromising the security of your firm.
A sound EMM strategy might also translate into happier, more productive lawyers. According to a research report by leading technology research firm IDG, organizations that implement EMM to support employee mobility report a 50% increase in productivity and a 39% boost in employee morale.
Instead of saddling your in-house staff with the management of your mobile devices, enlist an IT services partner to help with the management of your mobile devices. This will help your internal IT staff focus on more strategic tasks and goal and can save your firm up to 47% per device, based on information from Total Employee Mobility, a report by enterprise mobility expert Runzheimer.
Plan for Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery
Business continuity planning means having a comprehensive strategy to mitigate any IT service disruption, from the loss of a single hard-drive to a natural disaster, or any other failure that would disable your entire network and threaten your law firm’s success.
The American Bar Association (ABA) has been advising law firms back up their data to an off-site location for over a decade, but that should be just one small part of a larger recovery or continuity strategy. Real preparedness means assessing risk, developing a thorough plan to address those risks, then testing and updating that business continuity plan on a regular basis to ensure its continued efficacy as new technologies become available.
Because of the specialized expertise and tools required to perform these tasks well, disaster recovery and business continuity are among the IT services that law firms most frequently outsource to a technology partner. This leads to not only greater peace of mind, but cost savings as well. According to the Computer Economics IT Outsourcing Statistics, 92% of organizations that outsource disaster recovery to an external provider have equal or lower costs when compared to running these services internally.
Greater Cybersecurity Vigilance
The threat of a cyberattack has been growing steadily over the last decade, and legal services providers are a primary target for criminals. Based on the collected data of nearly 50 billion cybersecurity events, IT security firm TruShield has identified the legal industry as the second most targeted sector for cybercrime, after finance.
Developing a robust cybersecurity strategy for your law firm should start with a holistic appraisal of all the hardware and software assets in the firm. Who needs access to those assts, and from where? What are your network’s weakest links, and what can you do to close them? Once you’ve answered these basic question, you should begin implementing multi-layered information access controls, file encryption, an incident response system, enterprise-grade anti-virus software, and other appropriate security measures.
Keeping up with the latest cybersecurity tools and best practices is a full-time job. For law firms that don’t have the resources to hire their own cybersecurity professional, outsourcing cybersecurity needs to a trusted provider allows for easy access to those resources. Having this expertise close at hand will be especially important as the cybersecurity job market continues to tighten, and more jobs in the field go unfilled, a phenomenon you can read more about here.
Astute Technology Management – A Partner to Law Firms Big and Small
Hiring and managing in-house IT staff is a complex and time-consuming job. The difficulty and cost of maintaining a full-staffed IT department means that many law firms are better served by enlisting the help of a technology services partner that understands the changes happening within the legal services field and has the expertise to help your firm navigate those changes.
Astute Technology Management helps law firms around central Ohio maintain every aspect of network technology, including cybersecurity, disaster recovery, enterprise mobility management, compliance concerns, strategic planning, and any of the other myriad tasks that you would ask an IT professional to handle. Not only do we help our legal services clients get more done and worry less, but we do it for a flat monthly fee that helps them prevent cost over-runs and budget with greater confidence.
If your law firm is looking for a true technology partner to help differentiate yourself and walk into the future with greater confidence, contact us any time to speak with one of our experts. We’re always happy to help legal services firms better understand technology and find a solution to the IT problems they face.