In recent years, Managed Service Providers (MSP) have become an invaluable information technology system for many different and diverse industries. And as the COVID-19 pandemic has proven, off-site IT management and support provides equal and often superior response times, knowledge-pool and technical underpinnings than small/SMB firms can provide with in-house staff.
This is no truer than in the legal industry where documentation and strict schedules are more important than anything else other than the actual skills and talents of the attorneys.
But even the best lawyer is unable to effectively handle a case when they don’t have the proper technical support behind them. In today’s advanced and the evolving legal world – where even the use of artificial intelligence in legal circles is starting to become commonplace – there are many reasons why legal firms should consider the features and benefits of moving to a dedicated IT managed service provider.
Managed IT services offer a host of benefits for law firms that need hands-on and proactive IT support. An MSP can benefit your law firm in the following ways:
1. Cybercriminals are targeting Law firms of EVERY size:
Law firms are increasingly an attractive target because of the nature of their business. In the course of corporate legal and M&A work, litigation and other legal services they perform, law firms and in-house legal teams collect tons of confidential corporate information and sensitive data like tax returns. They can suffer reputational and financial losses if they are breached, especially if data is exposed. Average ransomware payouts exceed $1 million, according to a recent report from security firm CrowdStrike.
Unfortunately, law firms tend to be more vulnerable than other types of businesses. A report released in May by security firm BlueVoyant found that 15% of a global sample of thousands of law firms showed signs of compromised networks, and all firms were subject to targeted threat activity.
An October American Bar Association report found 29% of law firms reported a security breach, with more than 1 in 5 saying they weren’t sure if there had ever been a breach and 36% reporting past malware infections in their systems. Lack of use of strong security tools could be a factor. The 2020 ABA Legal Technology Survey Report, published in October, reveals that only 43% of respondents use file encryption; less than 40% use email encryption, two-factor authentication and intrusion prevention; and less than 30% use full disk encryption and intrusion detection.
Law firms have additional considerations in the event of a cyberattack that are unique to their industry — responsibilities related to ethics, legal liability and attorney-client confidentiality. Because these attacks are not new, law firms could be held liable for not taking reasonable steps to protect client data if it was impacted by a data breach. Lawyers are ethically obligated to be competent in all aspects of client representation and required to maintain confidentiality with regard to all client information and documents.
2. The Information of Constantly Changing Schedules
Legal professionals quite possibly function on the tightest and strictest timelines of any industry. Their mastery of the use of schedules, exhibits and other addendums must be overseen with incredible detail and attention. Not a minute or smallest aspect of the protocol can be lost or mismanaged.
Going between court appointments, client meetings, and office briefings means that one little change at any given point could throw their entire day’s itinerary out of order if they aren’t notified of it immediately. The tech solutions that MSPs provide make sure this kind of information gets uploaded and displayed in the proper places immediately.
3. Accessibility and Documentation
Specific paperwork, documents, and various discovery materials that are continuallybeing added to the existing files in any given case; but, are of little help if attorneys cannot instantly access them online at a moment’s notice. The ability to either pull up these items on mobile devices or even print them and have them in physical form can be the difference between a successful endeavor and a failed one.
All of this depends on reliable, fast, and secure IT services such as those specifically provided by an MSP. Here are just a few of the many critical services that these professionals provide which can help legal firms tremendously:
- Practice management
- Court and .gov website organization
- Client/Document management
These and several other services include the need for not only cloud infrastructure but also a cloud computing and storage provider. These features assist in streamlining office management and other back-end aspects of the function of a law firm and are all included with the right Managed Service Provider. They also help to increase efficiency across the board in every area of a practice which, in turn, assistsin building and maintaining your reputation, as well as maximizing profits.
4. True Technical Expertise
Do you know how to set up remote access on every laptop and company distributed mobile phones in the office?
If an employee came in one day and said that they lost their company-issued phone, would you know how to remotely wipe it so people can’t access sensitive company information?
Could you easily name 3 top-rated anti-virus programs that are also in compliance with certain industry laws?
You may know how to do some basic things on your laptop and phone, but knowing how to operate a device isn’t the same as being a tech expert.
Your job is to be an expert in law, not in technology. This is why having managed IT services can be helpful for law firms. They’ll be able to be the actual technical experts you need on staff to keep everything safe.
5. Fill Gaps
You know that you have great anti-virus software for all of your laptops, but you still don’t have reliable anti-virus software for any of your mobile phones.
Despite switching e-mail providers and finding one that employees like, there’s still a huge problem with spam and inadequate filters.
Instead of trying to find ways to fill in gaps by yourself, it’s time to find an IT service that can do it themselves.
When you’re used to doing IT internally, it can be easy to be ahead in some areas and far behind in others. If you use a managed IT service you’ll have the help you need to fill in any important gaps in service.
A managed IT service can also be a big help to any internal IT staff. They wouldn’t be taking away any jobs, they’ll be able to improve jobs and make employees even more empowered to do their work properly.
6. Improved Access to Information
Have you ever received a frantic call from an attorney before (or during) an important meeting asking about a certain file or piece of paperwork?
In the past, an intern or clerk would have to race across town to deliver important information. Now they’d have to quickly sort through files on a laptop and hope that they picked the right one.
If you had a managed IT service in this situation, there wouldn’t be any need to have a chaotic chase or go on a fact-finding mission.
Your service provider may set up remote access for your employees so they can get to files even if they aren’t at their computers. Or, they’d have a cloud network set up so that people can easily access files.
The best part of this set up is that you don’t have to worry about security issues. They’ll be able to easily set everything up, and they’ll set it up so that everything is secure.
7. Get Ahead of Regulatory Compliance Issues
HIPPA isn’t just important for medical practitioners. If you take any cases centered around medical malpractice or fraud, your law firm needs to be in compliance with HIPPA too.
HIPPA has a lot of rules around sensitive patient data. If your firm doesn’t take the right steps to comply with rules, you could be setting yourself up for legal trouble down the road.
Health care isn’t the only field that has sensitive rules around data and sharing information. There are plenty of industries that have compliance rules, and if you want to handle any cases in them, you need to make sure you’re compliant.
A trustworthy managed IT service won’t have a problem being up to date on the latest compliance laws and rules around regulation. They’ll know everything your employees need to do to ensure that important data stays safe.
8. Manage Technical Growth
When your law firm first started there may not have been a lot of technical equipment. A few stationary desktop computers, a printer or two, and a fax machine were all you needed to do work.
Now nearly every employee has a laptop that can leave the office whenever they do. They have company-issued smartphones that contain sensitive client information.
Eventually, you could find that you need to buy technology you’re not even familiar with.
As your firm grows your technology needs to grow as well. Finding a way to manage everything can get to be tricky. The right managed service can give you the guidance you need as you bring in more tech.
They can help you find sturdy laptops that can withstand being frequently moved from place to place. They can help you find a mobile provider that gives you good rates and find secure phones you won’t have to worry about.
9. Link Every Location Together
Managing the technical needs of one office may have been easy for one in-house IT specialist, but things can get tricky when you have to take other locations into account.
If you don’t use the same IT services, every location could have different rules around managing devices.
Security protocols get more difficult to manage because there’s no consistency, and that can lead to difficult situations when simple problems arise.
This is where having managed services for IT can come in handy. They’ll be able to create a cohesive plan for managing all things related to IT for every location.
10. 24/7 Help
It would be nice if IT problems only happened from 9-5, but there are going to be issues that happen around the clock.
A major server could go down during a holiday weekend. An employee that’s doing extra work over the weekend could find that they need access to important files. There could be signs of a possible data breach at 11 pm.
You never know when you’re going to need IT help, and managed services can give you the help you need whenever you need it.
There’s no need to worry about off-hours, weekends, or holidays with a managed service firm. They’ll be able to give you any kind of IT support you need around the clock.
11. Lower Operating Costs
Having multiple IT specialists on staff may seem helpful, but it isn’t very cost-effective. There are some days where they may not have any work to do, or the work that needs to be done could be easily finished by one person.
Remember, the true cost of an employee isn’t just their hourly wage. You also have to consider health insurance, benefits, and equipment costs.
Instead of hiring multiple people to do a little work, consider cutting down your staff size and relying on managed services for extra help. You can have someone in the office each day to handle small issues and work with employees, and also have round the clock help from a firm that can work on larger issues.