Legal professionals have knowledge and expertise in the law, but not necessarily with technology or IT. Modern law firms rely on technology to run efficiently and securely, which is why many rely on the assistance of an IT team.
But not every firm has the resources for an in-house IT specialist or team. Outsourcing with managed IT service providers can fill the gap and optimize your technology to suit your firm’s needs – from accessibility to security to tech stack – to take it to the next level.
What Are Managed IT Services for Law Firms?
Managed IT services are information technology services outsourced to a third-party company. This allows law firms to operate more securely and frees staff to focus on work specific to the law firm’s business and cases.
In addition, most legal professionals are skilled in just that – the law. Managed IT provides expert technology services without the need for in-house staff. With this technical expertise, managed IT providers assist firms in leveraging the latest technology for smoother and more efficient operations and offer skilled expertise in cybersecurity and compliance.
Why Firms Need Managed IT Services
In a law firm, the IT department manages and maintains the firm’s computer system and networks and provides ongoing technical support. Managed IT services are outsourced to a team of experts – rather than hiring and maintaining an in-house professional or team.
There are several benefits to having an expert managed IT provider, including:
Staying Current with the Latest Technology
Managed IT service providers are technology experts. Some providers offer IT services specific to the needs of law firms and the legal industry, so they understand the unique requirements and compliance issues. They can help with security, workflows and efficiency, digital transformation, and more.
Once a new system is installed, managed IT providers offer training and support for staff to ensure the technology is maximized. This helps your law firm hit the ground running with minimal hassle or downtime.
Maintaining and Upgrading Hardware
The pandemic created a “new normal” for virtually every industry, including law firms. More and more lawyers and legal staff are working hybrid or remotely – minimizing the time spent in a physical office. With this in mind, maintaining and upgrading hardware is a high priority to keep remote workers functioning.
Managed IT providers are crucial for hardware maintenance and upgrades. They monitor the firm’s system to ensure they’re functioning efficiently and address any issues that come up. Providers can handle virtually all tasks related to hardware, including updates, cleaning, and repairs.
If staff members have issues with the technology, managed IT providers can offer technical support. In the event of a breach or natural disaster, they can assist with the recovery process to get your firm up and running.
Keeping Information Secure
Data security is a major concern for every business, but this is especially true of law firms. Both law firm data and client data is sensitive and high-value for hackers. In fact, the American Bar Association (ABA) reports that 27% of law firms have experienced a security breach at some point.
Managed IT service providers are data security experts. They can manage your risk exposure, train staff to create a solid cybersecurity culture, and equip your firm with tools to prevent attacks like data encryption.
How to Hire Managed IT Services for Your Firm
Hiring managed IT services for your firm can be a strategic decision to ensure your law firm’s technology needs are met. Here’s how:
Assess Your Firm’s IT Needs and Objectives
Before you can vet providers, you have to assess what your law firm needs. Identify the areas that are the highest priority, including cybersecurity, cloud services, network infrastructure, or software support. Consider both short- and long-term IT goals and align them with your business objectives.
Research Potential Service Providers
Research the managed IT service providers on the market, particularly ones that specialize in the legal industry. You should also ask colleagues in your network and read reviews and testimonials to understand what each provider does well – and not so well – to narrow your choices.
Evaluate Potential Providers
There’s a lot to consider when evaluating providers, including the expertise, value-added services, industry certifications, experience and reputation, flexibility, and security protocols. Remember, a provider that has a lot of features may seem impressive, but that’s not as important as finding the right fit for your law firm.
Conduct Interviews and Sign Up for Demos or Free Trials
Narrow your list of providers by conducting interviews and trying the services firsthand. Pay close attention to the services offered, pricing structures, service level agreements, and any additional terms and conditions. This outlines expectations for both parties to ensure you’re making the right decision.
Review Service Level Agreements and Contracts
Before you finalize your decision, review the service level agreements and contracts to evaluate the agreed-upon services, performance, response times, and any penalties for non-compliance. Pay attention to the contract terms, including confidentiality, termination clauses, and contract duration.
Qualities to Look for in a Managed IT Service Provider
There are plenty of managed IT service providers available, but they’re not all created equal. It’s important to work with a provider who has experience with law firms, especially if your practice area is highly regulated like personal injury law with HIPAA.
Another important consideration – especially if you have or are considering cloud-based law practice management software – is working with a provider with experience. If your provider or your firm works with outdated tools, there’s a limit to the benefits for your firm.
With the growing threat of data breaches for law firms, a managed IT service provider with a robust security posture is key. Your provider should prioritize proactive security measures to minimize your risk of a breach, and if one occurs, address it quickly to mitigate the damage.
How Law Practice Management Software Supports Law Firm IT Departments
As mentioned, your managed IT service provider can only do so much. You need the latest technology to get the most out of your business relationship.
Legal practice management software like PracticePanther is a key component of maximizing efficiency and security at your law firm. With features like automatic updates and cloud-based solutions, PracticePanther supports IT management and operations.
On its own, PracticePanther offers a centralized platform with security built in, including ABA- and IOLTA-compliant features and 256-bit military-grade encryption to ensure confidential information is safeguarded. There are additional security features to minimize the risk to your law firm, including two-factor authentication and customizable security settings to restrict access to a need-to-know basis.
PracticePanther integrates with some of the best platforms for law firms, including WealthCounsel, Gmail, Box, Google Drive, QuickBooks, and Outlook. Communication, legal case management, client billing, and more are all integrated and standardized with automated workflows that keep your entire firm on the same page – including your managed services like IT.
Final Thoughts on Managed IT Services for Law Firms
Managed IT service providers allow your firm to increase productivity, efficiency, and security by outsourcing expertise to skilled professionals. You have help to deploy new technology, maximize your current legal technology, shore up security, and address any issues as they arise. It’s important to vet providers carefully to find the perfect match for your firm, however, and set them up for success with the latest in legal practice management technology.
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