IT Support for Law Firms

  • Nationwide IT Support.
  • Expert Legal Software and Technology Support.
  • Exclusively for Law Firms.

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Uptime Practice™ Next

A Complete IT Solution for Law Firms

Legal Software Support

Setup and support for your practice management and legal software.

Office 365

The Office 365 suite, customized to work the way your law firm does.

Cloud Storge

Simple Cloud Storage or Comprehensive Document Management software.

Collaboration Tools

Remote meeting and communication tools to keep your firm working together.

Security & Compliance

Multi-Factor Authentication, Email Encryption, Compliant Backups, Desktop Protection.

IT Support

IT Help Desk: Support for your Desktops, Laptops, Printers, Network & more.

The Complete Guide to IT Support for Law Firms

Every business out there uses some form of technology to complete daily activities. Your law firm is no exception. To ensure your tech is efficient, secure, and available when needed, you require IT support. After all, you’re a busy attorney—not a tech guru.

Modern law firms that use technology have very specific needs when it comes to IT support. For example, you require support that’s knowledgeable in your practice management software. While a generalist IT provider may be able to support the basic elements of IT such as troubleshooting computer problems, your law firm needs more.

How do you find the right IT support provider for your law firm? What should you be looking for? This guide will answer these questions and more so you can choose a vendor with confidence.

Note: We’ll be using the terms “MSP,” “IT support provider,” and “IT vendor” interchangeably throughout this guide. For purposes of this article, we’ll consider all three to mean the same.

Why You Need Dedicated Law Firm IT Support for Your Firm

Firm owners have a breadth of experience in a wide range of areas. After all, you’re an attorney and a business owner. If you’re a solo attorney or the owner of a small firm, you may even be the project manager, the HR director, and the customer service team, all rolled into one.

Yet, you should never be your own IT support provider. Technology is the backbone of your firm and it requires focus. You need a dedicated team solely responsible for keeping your critical systems up and running, so you can best serve your clients.

What’s more, your time outside of client work is best served refining and growing your law practice. 

IT support providers do so much more than troubleshooting an internet that won’t connect and a mouse that refuses to cooperate. They keep your firm productive, ensure you’re able to scale your tech as your firm grows, protect your systems from security mishaps, and (with the right IT partner) ensure your firm gets the most from its technology investment.  

In-House IT vs Outsourced Law Firm IT Support

The traditional method of obtaining IT support was to hire an in-house team of IT professionals. This isn’t cost-effective for smaller firms, however. While hiring in-house specialists might be great for large firms, there are other options for smaller ones.

Managed service providers (MSPs) are third-party teams that deliver IT support to your firm. Traditionally, they remotely manage your law firm’s on-premise servers and provide IT help desk services.  And–because on-premise IT infrastructures requires hands-on administration, MSP’s typically provide boots-on-the-ground services, either as-needed or on a regular schedule.

Here are a few of the many benefits to choosing an MSP (Law Firm IT Support team) over an in-house team:

  • Lower costs: There’s no need to vet, hire, and train IT professionals for your firm. Plus, the more progressive MSPs come with a set payment structure, so you always know what to budget for each month or year.
  • Easier access to qualified support: MSPs offer professionals with experience in every tech niche. This means you’ll have access to qualified support, regardless of your tech needs.
  • Fast response: MSPs are dedicated solely to your IT which can improve response times when issues occur.
  • Single point of contact: If you or your team need help, you’ll know exactly who to call. The MSP will then take over, so you can get back to work.

What to Look for in a Law Firm IT Support Provider

Law Firms Are Different

If there’s one insight we want you to glean from this guide, it’s this: Law firms are different. They’re special. Your firm uses specialized tech tools and software for client, practice, and document management. The IT vendor you choose should understand these needs and your differences for the best results.

We have the opportunity to speak to many law firms and attorneys who work with local IT companies. And we’ve witnessed a recurring theme across many law firms.

Here’s the problem.

Generalist law firm IT support providers are all too eager to support the “vanilla” elements of your law firm’s technology (desktops, laptops, Office 365, Exchange, virus protection), but shy away from taking any accountability or providing support for your firm’s legal software.  

Time and time again, we see this phenomenon occur in the form of:

  • Finger-pointing between your MSP/IT consultant and your software provider
  • A “hands-off” approach towards supporting your legal software (on the part of your law firm IT support provider)
  • A lack of central accountability for overall technology support
  • Multiple different teams/resources to contact when technology problem arise.

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Let’s dive into these attributes in detail, so you know exactly what to look for in your new IT partner.

Legal Software Software Expertise

Perhaps one of the most important things you should look for is technical and law-specific software expertise. After all, your IT vendor should know the tech tools they’re working with and how to use them effectively.

There are plenty of basic competencies your vendor should have. For example, your IT provider should be able to:

  • Install and configure hardware, software, and networks
  • Plan and perform system maintenance
  • Develop user accounts
  • Upgrade OS and migrate data
  • Diagnose and eliminate hardware or software problems
  • Coordinate directly with your legal software publisher when addressing updates and issues (so you don’t have to).

Beyond both basic and complex IT know-how, your vendor should also have experience with a wide range of law-specific software. When we say experience, we mean they should be able to help you set up, use, troubleshoot, and improve your use of these tools. 

Law-specific software your vendor should know includes:

Scalability

As your firm grows and evolves, so will your technology needs. For example, you’ll need more hardware, additional users, more file storage, and other components. The vendor you choose should be able to scale along with you to best support your business.

The day may also come where you need to evaluate or implement new legal software (practice management, document management, and/or accounting software).

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Your IT support provider should also be able to give you advice on changes you can make to your tech stack that will enable growth. Don’t hire a vendor that’s simply a tech repair business. Instead, hire someone you can trust to deliver expert, industry-specific advice on using tech to build your business.

Proactive IT Management

The best way to ensure your systems are always ready for work when you are is to be proactive, eliminating potential IT issues before they occur. Proactive law firm IT support and management is the process of monitoring your systems to identify and solve potential problems. 

Great vendors will be proactive in their management instead of reactive, which means only solving issues that have already happened. Some refer to this as the “break-fix” approach. Something breaks, you fix it, over and over again.

The best benefit of proactive IT management is the elimination of downtime resulting from tech issues. Every minute your tech tools are unavailable costs you. This can greatly impact your bottom line. By being proactive, you can prevent costly downtime and keep work running smoothly.

Remote Law Firm IT Support 

Your vendor should provide remote support capabilities. This is especially important if you are using the cloud. Some vendors may draw the line at supporting your local equipment such as your firewall or switch. These components play a critical role in how your connection to and from the cloud works.

At a minimum, your provider should offer some basic remote support of your local network in addition to the support provided for cloud components. This means your vendor can access your local network from another location via a remote desktop.

Remote support also improves response times. Through a remote desktop connection, your provider doesn’t have to send an IT specialist to your location, wasting critical time (and maybe even resulting in an additional fee for the trip). Instead, issues can be resolved almost immediately from anywhere.

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How to Find the Right Law Firm IT Support Provider

The good news is that there are many IT support providers out there. Yet, this can also be bad news. With so many vendors to choose from, how do you ensure you make the right choice? Start by taking these steps.

Important: When selecting a law firm IT support vendor, they must be the right fit for your unique firm. You know your IT needs best. Also, remember that the best IT support doesn’t have to be local. Modern technologies make remote IT support just as effective as local support.

1. Search for IT Support That Specializes in Law Firms

We’ve already talked a lot about this, but it’s so important. Law firm IT is a different thing entirely. You work with confidential client data that must be protected by tough security measures. You use software such as LexWorkplace or PCLaw that are law-specific solutions. Your firm’s technology must be compliant with ABA standards and other regulations.

And those needs are only scratching the surface. The right IT support for your firm understands these needs and more. Having a few law firms as clients isn’t enough for an IT provider to truly grasp the nature of law firm IT. Instead, the provider you choose should have extensive experience working with many law firms.

2. Ask Questions About the Vendor’s Experience & Services

During your initial search, you should come away with a list of potential vendors. Now, the deep work begins. You’ll want to start by reaching out to the individual vendors, so you can get to know their services and what they can offer your firm.

You’ll want to ask plenty of questions, so you can walk away with a good understanding of the vendor’s capabilities and offerings. Here are some questions to get you started:

  • How do you handle customer support and troubleshooting? What’s that process like?
  • When can we expect a response after submitting a ticket?
  • Do you offer an uptime guarantee?
  • Do you work with our firm’s specific legal software?
  • What security measures are in place to protect data and systems?
  • What law firms have you worked with in the past?
  • How often will you communicate with us?
  • What are some of the critical IT issues you’ve resolved quickly in the past?
  • Do you take a proactive approach to IT? Or, do you only take action when issues arise?
  • What happens in the event of an emergency or disaster?
  • What is the payment structure? When do you expect payment?
  • Will you provide all of the hardware, software, and licenses required for upgrades or migrations?
  • What frontline support do you deliver (i.e. help desk support)?
  • Does the Law firm IT support provider include/provide Office 365?

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3. Dig Into the Vendor’s Service Level Agreement (SLA)

A service level agreement (SLA) outlines what you can expect from your vendor. It lists the expectations of both parties and defines what happens when requirements aren’t met. It’s a critical document you should review for each vendor you’re considering for your firm.

The SLA will cover which services the vendor will and will not provide. It will also cover the vendor’s responsibilities as well as the IT response times and service hours you can expect.

When reviewing the SLA, consider what service limits you’re willing to allow and which ones you can’t ignore. You’ll want to ensure you’re comfortable with the SLA before moving forward as your working relationship will be built upon it. 

For example, are you comfortable with a 24-hour response time when issues arise? If not, you may need to look elsewhere.

4. Discuss the Vendor’s Cost Structure in Detail

Beyond service agreements and capabilities, you’ll also want to make sure you’re comfortable with the vendor’s cost structure. You should familiarize yourself with what’s included, what’s not, and what additional fees may exist.

How Much Will an Law Firm IT Support Vendor Cost?

MSPs typically require monthly payments much like a subscription. And some MSPs will require a monthly fee per user. Monthly costs may range from anywhere to a couple hundred or a couple thousand dollars each month, depending on your needs and the size of your firm.

It’s also possible to pay hourly for IT services. But we generally recommend against this method. By paying hourly, you’ll more than likely feel the need to complete basic IT tasks yourself to save cash. Unfortunately, this takes time away from your firm and other critical business activities.

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Questions to Ask Your Vendor Regarding Pricing

Be sure to discuss what’s not included in the monthly cost. For example, what other project fees or extended services fees are not included or covered?

You’ll also want to make sure the vendor isn’t nickel and diming you. Some MSPs will require additional fees for even basic IT functions. Things to specifically ask your vendor about include:

  • Is adding or removing a user included or do you require an extra fee?
  • What support of our local network and equipment is included in the monthly cost?
  • If the entire server or network must be upgraded or rebuilt to resolve a technical issue—is that covered or will it require an additional investment?
  • Are OS upgrades or migrations covered?

5. Request References

It’s one thing for an IT service provider to say they can handle law firm IT, but it’s another to have proof. As any good attorney would, it’s important to do your due diligence here. Ask the vendor for references from past or current law firm clients. Then, reach out to them to learn more about their experience.

Be sure to ask the firm questions about components such as customer service, response times, work quality, and security. We recommend reaching out to a few different law firms for the best input. And if the vendor is unable to give you references from legal clients, consider moving towards another vendor.

Once you have made it through these steps, you should have a single vendor that fits the bill or a shortlist of candidates to consider. We recommend allowing your team to be a part of the decision-making process. That way, everyone is comfortable moving forward.

Beware Server Proliferation (Pushed by Your IT Firm)

After working with hundreds of law firms for the past decade plus, I want to caution law firms that are being advised by a local IT firm or Managed IT provider.

If you’re like many law firm lately, you’ve moved some, if not many of your software functions to web-based/cloud based software.  For instance, perhaps you’ve moved:

  • Exchange email to Office 365
  • QuickBooks (desktop) to QuickBooks Online
  • Practice Management to Clio, LEAP or CosmoLex
  • Document Storage / Management to OneDrive or LexWorkplace

Many law firms are in some phase of transitioning each element of their firm’s technology to cloud-based tools.  And with each step, there’s one less thing your on-premise serve is needed for.

The natural progression here is that, eventually, there is no remaining need for an on-premise server.  Once you’ve moved email, your main software applications and your files/folders to the cloud, there is no longer a need for onsite servers in the first place.

But here’s the thing.

Most local IT service providers understand that no onsite servers means far less for them to manage, which directly translates to less revenue for them.  It simplify costs (a lot) less to manage a law firm that doesn’t have servers, and is using entirely cloud-based tools.

Unfortunately, this leads many local law firm IT support companies to insist:  “No, you still need a server for (XYZ reason).”  These purported reasons may include:

  • “You need  server for Active Directory / user management.”
  • “You need a server to manage DNS/DHCP.”
  • “You need a server to be your print server.”

The truth is, these few remaining utility functions can cost-effectively be moved to other cloud-based services (such as Microsoft Azure or Practice Next), truly eliminating any residual need for on-premise servers.  Unfortunately, we’ve witnessed local IT firms cling to onsite servers to keep their management fees and revenue intact.  

If you’ve moved all data, documents and apps to the cloud, make no mistake:  You no longer need onsite servers, or the ongoing cost to maintain them.

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Uptime Practice™ Next: A Complete Law Firm IT Support Platform

To make the most of your tech resources and to get access to the best law firm IT support available, we recommend moving to cloud-based tools, including cloud-based billing, case management, document management and collaboration tools.  And we recommend a single, central IT support platform to tie all of your cloud-based tools together.  

Uptime Practice™ Next is your complete law office in the cloud. It’s a suite of essential cloud-based practice management and productivity tools, including everything you need to run your law office in the cloud:

  • Cloud storage: Practice Next includes simple cloud storage or comprehensive document management software, depending on your firm’s needs. It’s the perfect way to store all of your client files and firm documents for easy access from anywhere.
  • Collaboration tools: Remote meeting and communication tools ensure your team can easily work together in the cloud. Practice Next includes Microsoft Teams plus support for Slack and Zoom.
  • Security and compliance: Practice Next includes multi-factor authentication support, encrypted email, mobile device management, ransomware protection, and more.
  • Integration with your critical apps: With Microsoft 365 included, you’ll have access to your critical law firm apps such as Word, Outlook, Excel, Exchange, and more.

Beyond the tools offered inside Uptime Practice™ Next, we provide all the tech support you need from onboarding to troubleshooting. We’ll start by analyzing your current software to map your blueprint to the cloud. Next, we’ll help you set up your practice management software and Microsoft 365.

From there, we’ll consolidate and migrate your documents and data to your new cloud storage platform and set up your collaboration tools. Once we’re done, we don’t leave you to fend for yourself. We provide ongoing support of the Practice Next suite for your entire firm.

Uptime Legal Systems supports hundreds of law firms across North America. We’ve worked with every leading piece of legal software, including those for billing and practice management, document management, and accounting. You can trust us to help you take advantage of the cloud to grow your law firm.

Learn More About Uptime Practice™ Next Today

When you need a robust, cloud-based law practice management solution and dedicated, law-specific IT support, Uptime Practice™ Next is a great choice. Learn more about law firm IT support or Uptime Practice™ Next by reaching out to us today.