Technology was the top tactic for improving efficiency in the 2014 Law Firms in Transition flash survey by Altman Weil. Sixty-percent of law firms reported using technology – to improve efficiencies and reduce costs. While that particular study is aimed a large law firms, there’s little doubt small law has much to gain from technology as well.
For many small law firms, there are two choices – hire a certified independent consultant for help – or do-it-yourself. In either case, it never hurts to read up on some of the basics which brings us to this week’s Friday Share: IT Basics & Best Practices for Small Law Firms by Atlanta-based Network 1 Consulting.
It’s worth noting that that Network 1 defines small law as a firm employing between 5 and 55 attorneys. We’ve pulled out some of the best practices and present them in bulleted format below the presentation. The presentation itself is 47 slides however it is a quick read:
8 Best Practices for Small Law IT
The following best practices stood out for us and look like sound advice:
1. Server upgrades. Consider refreshing or upgrading physical servers every 3-5 years.
2. Warranties. When buying servers, obtain a 24×7 onsite warranty.
3. More than one. Maintain at least two servers and an external storage area network to provide redundancy in the event a component fails.
4. Schedule patches. Establish a monthly schedule, ideally outside of normal working hours, to update and install software patches.
5. Backup power. An “uninterruptable power supply” provides a few extra minutes of power in the event of an electrical outage in order to properly shutdown a server rather than having it cut off cold.
6. Separate guest WiFi. If a firm offers a “guest network” via WiFi for clients and law firm visitors, establish a network that is separated from the firm’s network.
7. Hardware firewall. Firewalls are intended to keep prying eyes off your network. Sometimes a firewall can be software, but Network 1 recommends having a hardware firewall – a physical device that’s designed to protect businesses.
8. Don’t skimp. The phrase “don’t skimp” is repeated several times in the presentation – and it echoes advice we hear from our own law firm clients:
…one of the biggest mistakes small law firms can make is skimping on technology that helps them to do their jobs better.
Finally if all of this makes one’s head hurt, then perhaps we’ve identified one reason for increased interest in cloud-based technology for law firms.
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