Common IT challenges in small legal firms, and how to overcome them

Common IT challenges in small legal firms, and how to overcome them

Enterprises are rapidly evolving because of the developments in the internet, cloud, big data, and mobile devices. The law firm is no exception. Technology enables law firms to work efficiently and save money, but it does come with a unique set of challenges.

Data or document management

Physical documents, such as printed material, DVDs or CDs, and photographs, or digital files form the backbone of a successful law practice. Organizing all this also been one of a law firm's biggest challenges, oftentimes overwhelming the efficiency of its operations.

Creating a paperless office through scanning and digitization is just the first step. Organizing all that data using folder-based filing systems like a shared file drive or an email system can still prove to be difficult. Servers clog with mounting files that are difficult to retrieve. Files become lost in the clutter, with no dependable search function apart from a staffer's memory. This system is plagued with inefficiency, partly due to non-standardized naming conventions, multiple sub-folders, and a lack of version control.

Document management systems (DMS) fix these issues by providing a centralized database for all of the digitized documents of a law firm and fast, simple, and powerful searching.

Document management, however, is a security and privacy risk for law firms. A proper DMS will also feature an audit trail of everything related to a document, keeping track of a document's life cycle, like who made changes to it and when, and who emailed it and to whom it went. And since sending email is one of the biggest security risks of any organization, a DMS can also provide secure client communications by controlling restrictions for externalizing or emailing specific documents. It will even boost security and compliance because it's equipped with advanced threat detection and encryption systems.

With a cloud-based DMS and case management system, your employees can access the records and data they need to do their jobs no matter where they are. Instead of emailing documents back and forth and creating multiple versions of a file, legal professionals can work simultaneously on a document.

Data security

This is a top challenge and priority for any IT infrastructure, especially for any enterprise entrusted with the confidentiality and privacy of its clients. Sadly, like many organizations, law firms are vulnerable to cyberattacks that endanger client trust. An ABA Legal Technology Survey found 22% of law firms were hacked or experienced data breaches in 2017.

However, even as threats and government-mandated data security and privacy regulations continue to evolve, organizations are slow to accept that data security is now a business priority. Like many organizations across various sectors (healthcare comes to mind), law firms suffer from a lack of strong data security policies, employee security awareness, and cybersecurity countermeasures that go beyond endpoint security.

Fortunately, the best managed security services providers (MSPs) offer multi-level security designed to address some of the most important data security challenges. Their core components include round-the-clock monitoring, email protection, security awareness training, data encryption, security help desk, vulnerability scanning, logging, and monthly security reports — an all-around multi-level security approach to addressing evolving threats and vulnerabilities.

Backup and disaster recovery

Every organization runs the risk of losing critical data if it is not prepared for disasters. For law firms, it goes beyond managing business continuity or protecting the business from downtime. They must protect their clients’ data from natural disasters, system failure, and data breaches.

This is where an MSP with the expertise in data backup and disaster recovery planning comes in. As they depend heavily on reliable access to digital documents such as case files, court transcripts, legal briefs, and client correspondence, law firms must partner with an expert that can protect that data and allow them to focus on litigation, not on IT problems.

An MSP can back up data regularly from a secure remote data center. It can also help your firm establish a disaster recovery strategy that includes annual testing, data backup encryption, quick recovery through hardware and system recovery solutions, and proactive monitoring and network security that addresses issues and vulnerabilities before they can become disasters.

A law firm should be able to focus on what it does best — helping clients — and not worry about data issues. The best solution to meet these challenges is to partner with an MSP like NetQuest. NetQuest understands your law firm’s challenges and tailors solutions to meet them head-on. Call us today to find out more.

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