As a partner or manager at a law firm, you’re always seeking ways to improve your services and client relations. After reading up on what managed IT services providers (MSPs) can do better than in-house IT staff, you’re interested in partnering with one. But you’re not entirely sure if you need to do so at this point.
If your office is experiencing any of the following signs, then your law firm needs managed IT services right away.
Telltale Sign 1: Your staff spend a lot of time on tedious or non-billable tasks
For many law firms, time is money — maximizing face time with clients and working on cases efficiently are the keys to increasing their bottom line. But if your team is constantly bogged down by administrative tasks like managing records, reconciling bank statements, and fixing IT issues, they may not be as productive as they can be.
An MSP provides IT solutions to minimize manual tasks and streamline operations. They can help your law firm automate repetitive and time-consuming processes, as well as optimize hardware and software performance so your network is always running efficiently.
For instance, an MSP can simplify your business processes with QuickBooks, which is an all-in-one solution for accounting, time tracking, payroll management, and invoicing. Or they can set you up with Microsoft Dynamics 365 to help you streamline all aspects of client engagement. With these processes sped up, you and your staff have time to accomplish more billable activities.
Telltale Sign 2: Your law firm is heavily dependent on paper-centric and/or office-based processes
If there’s anything the COVID-19 pandemic has taught us, it’s the importance of digital transformation. To survive today and in the future, businesses must be able to operate outside a traditional office setup. And if your law firm is still heavily dependent on paper-centric and/or office-based processes, it’s high time you invest in digital solutions.
Thanks to technologies like the internet and the cloud, it has become simpler than ever to perform various business functions and earn revenue wherever you or your staff may be. And an MSP can easily provide you with the tools you need for remote work.
Cloud storage services like Microsoft OneDrive and Google Drive, for instance, make it easy for teams to access up-to-date company records in shared folders. Meanwhile, cloud-based productivity suites like Microsoft 365 and Google’s G Suite allow multiple users to collaborate on the same file simultaneously. This means you won't have to email a document back and forth just to get everyone's input.
What's more, messaging and voice and video calling apps enable you to stay connected with your team, partners, and clients. You can even conduct virtual meetings using video conferencing apps like Microsoft Teams and Google Meet. In fact, some state court judges have conducted court hearings online.
Further reading: 6 Tips To Make ‘Work From Home’ Arrangements A Success
An MSP can also guide you in answering the question, “What technology do law firms use?” There is an abundance of IT solutions out there, but among the most essential tools that law firms must invest in are the following:
- Case management solution – stores and summarizes all case information (e.g., contacts, documents, calendar events, notes, and billings) in a single dashboard
- Document management program – organizes documents, images, and audio and video files according to custom categories, folders, authors, and dates
- Contact management application – keeps a record of contacts as well as conversations across emails, phone calls, and in-person meetings with clients and other third parties
- Task management software – allows users to manage to-do lists and track progress of tasks
- Time tracking and billing software – records time spent on specific tasks for a case and simplifies the creation, approval, sending, and collection of bills
Telltale Sign 3: Your law firm only has basic security solutions in place to safeguard your clients’ data
A high level of trust and reliability are necessary for a law firm to be successful, which is why it’s very important that they do all they can to protect client data. For example, they must secure client banking information, healthcare records, key intellectual property, and government secrets. Law firms must have the proper safeguards in place to protect their organization and their clients from data breaches.
But doing so can be challenging. If you are handling highly valuable and sensitive information, then your firm is a hot target for cybercrime. And if any of the data you possess is leaked or breached, both you and your client may suffer devastating financial and reputational damage.
Partnering with an MSP guarantees enhanced cybersecurity. They work round the clock and employ advanced technologies to constantly monitor and manage your network. They also help you implement information security best practices, including using strong password protection, regulating and auditing access, encrypting data, and more.
In addition, an MSP can review and improve your security protocols and procedures related to remote access of corporate resources. This includes requiring all lawyers and staff to use a vetted virtual private network when connecting to the internet, and to encrypt their documents in zip files whenever exchanging sensitive information.
And if your staff are using their personal devices and home Wi-Fi connections for work, an MSP can secure their setups with a mobile device management or an advanced endpoint detection and response solution. The former is used to keep track of and manage all the devices connected to your network, while the latter is for monitoring endpoints and detecting threats and suspicious activities.
Further reading: 5 Wireless Network Security Threats You Should Be Aware Of
Telltale Sign 4: Your law firm does not have a backup of your files
Law firms rely heavily on data for all aspects of their operations: case work, time and expense tracking, billing, and more. Losing information in any of these areas can cause huge disruptions. Imagine losing all of your client records because of a computer failure. You may not be able to provide proper legal advice if you are running blind on a client’s case history.
As such, it’s essential to implement a comprehensive data backup and disaster recovery strategy. Having up-to-date backups will allow you to quickly recover your firm’s archive in the event of data loss. At the same time, knowing exactly what to do or how to react to a particular disaster event will allow you to easily bounce back and carry out operations without losing clients or revenue.
You can leverage the expertise and experience of an MSP to avoid business disruptions and potential downtime after an unforeseen event. They can help minimize the risks of data loss with regular backup, preventive maintenance, infrastructure monitoring, staff training, and security assessments.
Telltale Sign 5: Your law firm has difficulty handling information from clients in highly regulated industries
There are several government regulations to ensure data protection and privacy that affect professional services. Healthcare providers, for instance, deal with patient health data and confidential information that are heavily regulated under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996.
Meanwhile, public accountants and auditors are subject to the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002, and financial institutions must comply with the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act. For law firms that juggle mountains of data across various industries, it’s of the utmost importance to observe these data handling guidelines.
But understanding regulatory compliance can be tricky, especially since regulations are constantly evolving. Fortunately, partnering with a top-tier MSP ensures that your technology investments and practices always meet compliance requirements. They have the technical expertise needed to ensure that your IT environment complies with various standards and regulations.
An MSP can implement security protocols that protect sensitive data from the latest cyberthreats, as well as conduct technology assessments and security gap analyses to provide industry-specific solutions. What’s more, they can test and audit your systems regularly. Therefore, working side by side with an MSP greatly reduces the possibility of incurring noncompliance fines and penalties.
Not all MSPs are the same. Make sure you partner with one that specializes in IT support for law firms, like Integrated Computer Services. We have extensive experience managing the technology infrastructure of law offices in Florida. Get your FREE consultation today.