The notoriously traditional legal profession is becoming as tech and data-savvy as the rest of the world.
Gone are the days when law firms were without websites, let alone advanced cloud-based systems and processes. As the business of law moves from a labour-intensive delivery system to one aided by digitisation and advanced technologies, having a proactive IT partner who understands the industry is essential.
Now the smart law firms are realising how sophisticated systems and strategy can save them time and make them money.
Here are 5 key considerations regarding IT services and support as they relate to the legal industry.
Getting IT right from the beginning
Law firms must consider not only what they need from their systems immediately, but also what may be required later on as the industry continues to shape-shift. Incorporating a certain level of built-in ‘future flexibility’ in your IT design is advisable.
Although an initial IT roll-out can be costly, reparations will be more expensive in the long run if IT architecture is not set up properly from the outset. Implementing Tier 1 hardware from trusted manufacturers with guaranteed response times will mitigate hardware failure. InfoTech Solutions recommends Cisco and Hewlett Packard products.
Of vital importance is understanding as much as possible about the ‘why?’ behind your organisation’s IT design. Legal clients also need to be aware of the inherent risks in any IT design proposed (no system is without risk) and willing to accept them.
Prioritising system security
The nature of the data handled by legal professionals is governed by strict confidentiality regulations.
As with the medical industry, the importance of security cannot be overstated in the legal field. Proactive IT services and support can facilitate this.
With all IT systems now connected to the internet and the rise of advanced viruses (Trojans, malware and ransomware, for example), protecting the integrity of records is of constant concern.
Ironically, the most effective forms of protection are the ones least used, including:
- a strong and enforced password policy
- staff training on what to look out for
- what not to open on your email
- general vigilance
- high-quality security appliances and back-up methodology
It is wise to complete a risk analysis, including:
- how long clients can afford for their IT system to be down
- how much per hour downtime will cost
- how much data they can afford to lose in the event of a disaster
- what back-up systems they have in place for equipment\internet failure.
Integrating with other systems
With the emergence of Cloud technologies, integration with multiple systems to manage data is vital.
Questions to ask include: do your systems integrate with other systems? Are there alternative technologies you could use to increase productivity, mobilise your workforce or make data more secure/readily accessible?
Having superior back-up systems
This is the most important way to protect data from disaster. Not only is back-up essential in any business, it must be monitored and regularly tested like everything else. Checks should include ‘full restore tests’ in line with the client’s risk analysis.
As with everything, accountability is key. Someone should be responsible for these back-up systems and if they are away, someone else must know what to do.
The omniscient role of the Cloud
The Cloud can assist with everything mentioned above – from ‘software as a service’ integration platforms, to providing back-up and disaster recovery mechanisms. These capabilities allow a business to keep running in the event of a disaster, moving back-ups to the Cloud hourly if required and providing a replacement system to work from if the main servers are down. The cost-effective Cloud eliminates the need for on-site servers and provides users with workspaces directly from a secure centre.
In short, the Cloud provides equipment and redundancy that is normally prohibitively expensive to buy outright and install onsite because it is a ‘monthly subscription’ rather than a capital cost.
Often misunderstood and viewed with suspicion, in our experience the Cloud is ideal for many legal service providers – but the wrong advice can also be costly in the long term.
InfoTech Solutions looks after IT strategy and managed services for many clients in the legal industry.
For advice on IT services and support for your firm, call (07) 3390 8833.