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Small Law Firm Tech Concerns

Small Law Firm Tech Concerns

By Tom Lambotte | April 7, 2021

The annual Thomson Reuters assessment which covers the state of U.S. small law firms packs a lot of insightful data. The most recent, the “2020 State of US Small Law Firms,” delves deep into the challenges facing small law firms, and the actions they are taking (or not taking) to resolve them.

The results are not surprising, but are very insightful.

With close to two decades consulting for small practices all over the country, I’ve tracked legal technology through constant evolution…but the attorney complaint I most often encounter never seems to change:

The best thing about running a law firm is the “law”, the worst part is overseeing a “firm”.

You survived 7 years of higher education, aced the LSAT, passed the bar, mastered LEXIS, and can Shepardize in your sleep…you’ve polished your briefing, have a knack with the fine print, are good with your clients, and have grown comfortable in front of the bench – but never considered that being a lawyer would require you to be an office manager and IT expert.

Source: 2020 Thomas Reuters State of U.S. Small Law Firms

The good news is that you don’t have to be. 

By leveraging technology to handle administrative duties while outsourcing tech-related responsibilities, small firms can free up attorney time just like the big ones without incurring the cost of retaining internal departments.

Common Problems

If you’re willing to leverage technology to combat internal inefficiencies and get back to practicing law…but are intimidated by tech’s increasing complexity, then you are not alone: the 2020 survey identified these concerns among the foremost issues facing firms with 30-or-less attorneys.

Worse yet: amongst the respondents willing to upgrade IT systems to win back time for cases and clients, less than 1/3 had implemented any such plan.

Sadder still: these results mirrored previous annual reports, illustrating the problem’s intractable nature.

I call it the New Year’s Resolution Syndrome: you’ve openly identified a problem and have a desire to address it along with a general plan…but without help, expertise or an accessible starting point, all those good intentions fall to the wayside — pushed back again ‘til calendar’s end.

It’s like wanting to lose weight without a real diet, a gym membership, a buddy, or know-how…then settling back into bad snacking habits.

Let’s break that cycle!

Logical Solution

Whether you’re a solo practitioner or a growing small firm, enlisting a legal technology partner is a turnkey solution that lets you focus on what you do best.

It’s not just about eliminating IT headaches, but automating administrative tasks (from document generation, execution, and management to tracking time, billing, and payments), enabling better internal communication, and streamlining client relations…converting hours previously spent bumbling into ones that are billable!

A reliable end-to-end service provider will optimize your physical network and integrate it with a tailored suite of software, then prepare your team to get the most out of your new system and remain on-call to trouble-shoot, upgrade, and keep everything safe.

Think of it as getting a nutritionist, a trainer, and a chef to help you shape-up come January. Even better – they’re all the same entity, one that stays out-of-your way while getting the job done at a single reasonable flat-rate. Dead weight and wasted time don’t stand a chance this year!

Technology, like the law, is a specialized field best-left to knowledgeable experts. Just as you’d counsel any defendant against representing themselves, no attorney should be the architect of their own tech solutions: you’ll each end up with a fool as a client.

Find a consultant familiar with all available hardware, software, and security measures who can personalize an integrated system for your firm, and finally make good on that resolution.

Practical Steps

The blueprint for every law firm’s technology contains certain common elements (network infrastructure, office equipment, software platforms, security measures), but designing an optimal configuration depends upon several custom factors.

The size of your firm (how big you are now, how big you want to be), field of practice, client class, staff sophistication, physical space, budget, and personal preferences are all factors that will shape your system and dictate which of the countless permutations are best suited to your workflow. 

That’s where 15 years researching, testing, and refining real-world best practices becomes invaluable: we’ve already reviewed and vetted all available systems, installed and integrated them across an array of environments, and even designed our own solutions where market versions proved imperfect. That’s our Proven Process™.

We work with you to determine whether you need a local server (rarely the case these days) or want to migrate fully to the cloud, choose the best network hardware and security solutions, select equipment that’s economic/efficient/ergonomic, and review your requirements across seven core types of legal software to assess whether you’d be best served by separate programs, a single firm management suite, or some combination.

We’ll design the plan to improve the stability and security of your technology, then build an implementation timeline to make this a reality.

And services don’t end there.

Our TotalCare package assigns system administrators to keep your software updated, your data backed-up, and your devices proactively monitored for memory issues and security flaws, while our Apple-certified tech support team is always on-call to answer questions and solve problems: we support people not just machines.

All of this is included in our flat monthly fee – no strings attached or asterisks involved. Many providers promote “flat-fee” pricing, but add hourly billing for additional services (project work, new setups, office moves, after-hours support, etc.). With us, EVERYTHING’S included – along with project work – no reason to delay assistance or worry about fluctuating billing.

In fact, you should reach out today.

Grow Your Business, Shrink Your Headaches

Technology services are an invaluable piece of the modern practice of law, but don’t fall within an attorney’s training, nor constitute billable work.

Small firms often rely on patchwork systems, generic software, and the limited “expertise” of someone on staff to maintain their IT infrastructure…all of which ultimately drain resources, waste hours, and inhibit the ability to grow.

Surveys show that firms recognize this inefficiency, want to improve, and are willing to invest in leveraging technology…but don’t know where to start.

We do. Check out our new 21 Question I.T. Provider Checklist to find out what you should be looking for.

Let us bring our strategic experience to your network, software, security and maintenance, allowing your staff to unleash dormant potential, reclaim billable hours, and grow your client base along with profits.

Resolutions don’t have to wait for the New Year, but they can always mark a new beginning.

  • April 7, 2021

About the Author

Tom Lambotte is a legal technology expert, author and the CEO of GlobalMac IT. He helps Mac-using lawyers with super simple technology, security and efficiency strategies that work. He’s on a mission to help attorneys using Apple computers reduce their security risk and get more out of their technology. Get his free 33 Stupid Simple Mac Tips and score some quick wins to boost your productivity.