Lawyers receive a broad education in the law and legal principles—but this doesn’t mean they’re IT experts. Technology plays a critical role in the successful running of a law firm. Therefore, it’s vital that firms have a great IT team who can manage their technological demands, safeguard data security, and ensure ongoing compliance.
Many firms opt to have an in-house specialist. This can be a great way to ensure someone’s always on hand to help. However, even if your firm has an in-house IT specialist, you may benefit from consulting external experts. Managed IT services providers will ensure your operations are fully up-to-speed and can optimize your IT systems for your firm’s specific needs.
So, what do you need to know about managed IT services for law firms?
This blog outlines the benefits of managed IT services for law firms, highlights the questions you should ask before hiring a team, and explains where practice management software fits into the picture.
What is the role of the IT department in a law office?
A law firm’s IT department manages and maintains the firm's computer systems (hardware and software) and networks. They provide ongoing technical support to employees and ensure the security and compliance of the firm's data and systems.
Why law firms need managed IT services
Leveraging managed IT services allows law firm employees to focus on their day jobs while outsourcing their technological requirements to a team of experts. Let’s dive into the range of benefits that this approach provides law firms.
Staying up to date with the latest technology
Managed IT service providers are technological experts. Some even specialize in providing IT services for law firms—so they know exactly what firms need to perform at their best. They can help advise your firm on which technology you need to grow, increase efficiency, or become more secure. Indeed, they may also provide customized recommendations based on your existing hardware infrastructure or software stack.
Of course, providing advice is just the first step. When the time comes to install and maintain these new systems, managed IT service providers take the hassle off law firms’ plates. Many will also provide the training and support your employees need to understand new tools, upgrades, and ways of working. This support is invaluable—even your most technology-averse colleagues will be able to hit the ground running with minimal fuss or delay.
Maintaining and upgrading your hardware
Our 2022 Legal Trends Report found that office use is declining among law firms. Lawyers spent an average of 14 days in the office back in 2019. As of July 2022, this figure was down to 13 days. Non-lawyers, meanwhile, spent 16 days in the office in 2019 but currently spend an average of 12 days.
These figures clearly show that office use is decreasing—but it’s certainly not disappearing entirely. 56% of firms are still “Office-only”, 26% “Office-mostly”, and 10% “Hybrid”. Therefore, maintaining and upgrading your hardware must still be a priority for law firms.
Managed IT providers play a crucial role in supporting firms with hardware maintenance and upgrades. They monitor the firm’s systems to ensure all tools are functioning properly and efficiently, and alert law firms if any issues need to be addressed. They can perform regular maintenance tasks on the hardware, such as cleaning, updating software, and replacing worn or damaged parts. If a tool experiences issues or fails completely, IT providers will troubleshoot the issue and perform repairs as needed.
Additionally, IT providers can provide technical support to law firms when they have questions or need help with their hardware. They’ll help law firms create and maintain backups of their data and systems. In the event of a disaster, they’ll handle the recovery process, ensuring minimal downtime.
Working with managed IT services providers takes the stress out of hardware maintenance. Let the experts take the reins and focus on what you do best: helping clients.
Keeping your team connected—wherever they are
The 2022 Legal Trends Report found the most significant shift in office use among the ‘Hybrid’ group. One thing’s for certain: more employees are working remotely on a regular basis. However, despite the potential benefits for both employees and firms alike, this presents certain technological difficulties.
Communication and collaboration are more challenging when working remotely. It’s harder to ensure remote workers have reliable and secure access to the company’s network and resources. This is especially true if your firm’s infrastructure was not designed to support remote access. Protecting your data and systems from cyber threats is undoubtedly more difficult when employees access them remotely. This may require using additional security measures, such as virtual private networks (VPNs) and two-factor authentication.
This is where IT providers can help.
These experts ensure the equipment hybrid teams use is properly deployed, maintained, and supported. They provide critical assistance at all stages of the chain. When new employees start, they’ll ensure they have the right tools for the job. If an IT issue occurs, they can troubleshoot and solve it remotely. They’ll even be on hand to answer any employees’ queries when working from home, such as how to navigate the two-factor authentication process.
Securing your system
Data security is paramount. Law firms store sensitive, personal, and highly valuable information about their clients. This makes them an attractive target for potential hackers. Indeed, the American Bar Association (ABA) reports that 27% of firms have experienced a security breach at some time.
Managed IT service providers are data security experts. They know the latest threats, can train your staff on how to spot (and avoid) potential cyber attacks, and will arm your firm with the tools it needs to counter would-be hackers, such as data encryption. However, this isn’t an excuse to turn a blind eye to your firm’s compliance requirements. Ensure your firm is aware of its own data security obligations. Ignorance is no excuse. For example, if you handle personal health information, then you must comply with HIPAA.
Never assume your IT service provider understands your industry’s specific compliance duties. Advise their team accordingly to avoid potentially embarrassing slip-ups. They may already be aware of what they need to know—but it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Questions to ask when hiring managed IT service providers
Thinking of hiring a managed IT service provider? Great—but don’t dive in without first asking the right questions. You must ensure they’re right for the job. Consider asking the following questions.
- Do you have any experience working with law firms? If so, what kinds of firms (practice area/size)? Are you familiar with our practice area?
Note: This is especially important for highly-regulated practice areas, such as those affected by HIPAA (like personal injury law).
- Have you ever worked with cloud-based practice management software providers?
- What managed IT services for law firms do you provide?
- What are your prices?
- Do you have a helpdesk available (and if so, for what hours)? For example, if my firm is preparing for a Monday trial over the weekend and faces a technological issue, will someone be on hand to help us?
- Do you have experience with growing organizations? Can you help us implement new technology and/or recommend new systems that might be a good fit for us?
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Managed IT services for law firms and cloud-based practice management software
Your managed IT services provider can’t do it all alone. They might be experts in their field, but if you work with outdated tools with subpar security credentials, there’s little they can do. That’s why your firm must implement the latest technology.
Take practice management software, for example. These tools store your firm’s entire data: case files, client contact information, billing details, and so on. Therefore, your practice management software provider must prioritize security above all else.
Here at Clio, we’re security-first. We apply in-transit and at-rest encryption using industry best practices (such as HTTPS and TLS). Our software is continuously monitored for potential vulnerabilities by our in-house security team, which boasts over 40 years of combined experience at world-class organizations. We’re audited and certified daily by McAfee Secure, while our hosting facilities are audited annually for security certifications (such as SOC 2 and ISO 27001).
Run into an issue or have a question? Get in touch whenever the need arises—our team is available 24/5/365. We’re known for our outstanding customer service, and have recently expanded our set of customer support services.
We’re so IT-conscious that we’ve even partnered with a host of trusted IT consultants who we recommend to all law firms. So, if you’re looking for a top-tier managed IT service provider to hit the ground running, browse through our carefully-curated list.
Conclusions on managed IT services for law firms
Outsourcing your technological requirements to a managed IT services provider allows your firm to ensure first-class operations without the hassle of doing everything yourselves. You’ll have a team of experts on-hand whenever the need arises. They’ll deploy new technology, enable stress-free remote working, monitor for potential vulnerabilities, shore up your systems, answer your staff’s questions, and even provide the necessary training.
Consider handing over your IT operations to a team of specialists. Focus on what you do best and let managed IT services providers handle the rest.
Before you hire a managed IT service provider, learn more about our list of Clio Certified Consultants—and how you and your IT service provider can work seamlessly with Clio’s award-winning customer support!
We published this blog post in January 2023. Last updated: .
Categorized in: Technology