Law Firm IT Is a Pain in the Ass – Here’s What to Do About It

Dealing with Law Firm IT – The Right Way

Law firm IT is a pain in the ass. We’re not being crude, we’re being honest. Keeping your firm’s computers and servers up and running; installing, updating, and maintaining software; and proper data and document security are just a few of the law firm IT components you need to stay on top of to keep the machine moving.

And you didn’t go to law school to become an IT manager. So, to help you navigate the complicated, often frustrating world of law firm IT, we’ve put together this list of 5 best practices to help you improve your law firm IT experience. In fact, I wouldn’t call them best practices, but rather rules your firm should abide by, or risk problems like:

  • Downtime and halted productivity
  • Data loss
  • Software slowdowns and bugs
  • Data security breaches.

So here are 5 rules you should always follow when it comes to managing law firm IT.

Let’s get started.

Rule #1: Don’t Be Reactive

When it comes to managing law firm IT, possibly the first, most important rule is to be proactive rather than reactive. This may be advice you’ve heard again and again—but in today’s day and age, there are still so many law firms that don’t practice this.

Avoid reactive, break-fix law firm IT management (something we call: “plug-and-pray.”)

  • Do you only call your IT consultant when something is wrong?
  • Does your IT consultant/company remotely monitor your systems, but rarely sets foot into your office?
  • Do you spend as little as possible on IT and technology?

If so: Stop it. You’re doing your employees, your clients and yourself a huge disservice. You don’t need to take a Cadillac approach to law firm IT management, but you do need to be proactive about it. See Rule #4, below, for an overview of how to be properly proactive when managing your firm’s technology.


Rule #2: Don’t Hang on to Old Equipment

Warranties on servers, computers, and workstations exist for a reason. While it’s not really a guarantee that things will go wrong after it expires, it can give you insight into what you can expect once a certain amount of time passes. Maintaining and repairing existing servers, computers, and workstations longer Than their warranty may seem like a good idea, but it can (and almost always will) cost your law firm more money in the long run. It’s another form of break-fix, reactive law firm IT management, and it simply not worth the risk.

As a rule of thumb, you should recycle equipment, especially servers, every 3 to five years. Any more is taking significant risks.

Rule #3: Keep Your Software Current

Similar to keeping your hardware current, you need to keep your software current; especially your critical law firm software. This includes:

  • Productivity Software (Microsoft Office Suite)
  • Practice Management / Billing Software
  • Document Management Software

I’m not saying you need to jump on every new update or release of your practice management software the day it comes out. But you should keep your software reasonably current, either using the latest version or one version back. At a bare minimum, make sure you’re at least on a version that the publisher still supports.

I’ve seen many law firms hesitate to spend money on their main application’s annual maintenance plan or support agreement… only to lose countless hours of their employee’s time dealing with bugs, outages, slowdowns and other problems.


Rule #4: Adopt Managed IT

It’s important for every law firm, regardless of practice area, size, or location to proactively address their IT. And the term for this is adopting Managed IT.

Managed IT is the combination of proactive and preventative care for your core IT infrastructure (server, switches, firewalls, etc.) and streamlined support for your firm’s employees when they need it (IE: an IT Help Desk). In general, IT consultants and consulting companies fall into two categories:

  • Hourly / Time & Material / Consultants (EG: “Call me when it breaks,”), and
  • Managed IT Providers, often Called MSP’s (EG: “I’ll keep it form breaking.”)
  • Routine, onsite preventative care, performed by an IT professional (usually monthly).
  • 24 x 7 x 365 server/network monitoring (catching problems before they occur or grow)
  • As-needed IT Help Desk support – the only part of an IT care plan that’s reactive by design.

For most small and midsize law firms, a capable Managed IT Provider will provide:

“But, I’m a small law firm.”

Rule #5: Consider a Private Cloud

Law firm IT problems are a certainty, even with new, under-warranty servers, up-to-date software and capable Managed IT providers. And even with all the right elements in place, your IT management/support costs are difficult to predict.

Enter a Private Cloud.

A Private Cloud is a fully-managed, fully-hosted IT platform that will provide hosting for your critical software, your filesystem (files and folders) as well as your email and other systems. A Private cloud serves as a single, central system where all of your firm’s technology lives and is maintained and is the alternative to the cycle of buying servers, repairing, replacing, and repeating.

For many law firms, a Private Cloud liberates the firm from having to think about, deal with and pay for law firm IT challenges.


With the right private cloud company, that company will be intrinsically knowledgeable about the software your firm relies on. They’ll know how to install it, support it, optimize it and keep it running at peak performance. (Have you ever had an IT consultant give you that deer-in-the-headlights look when you present a problem within your legal software?)

The cloud service provider is responsible for all backups, maintenance, updates, and cybersecurity. Your firm simply logs in (from anywhere, anytime on any device), and get to work.

And everything just works.

Closing the Loop

So there you have it. Now you know (or perhaps have been reminded that):

  1. Law firm IT is a pain in the ass, but
  2. The best way to approach it is to be proactive in managing your law firm IT, and that
  3. You should keep your hardware and software up-to-date, and that
  4. A Private Cloud may be the best easy-button to accomplish all of these goals.

What do you think? Irks you the most about managing law firm IT? What solutions have you found? Leave your thoughts and feedback in the comments below.

Onward and upward.

Epilogue: Better in the Cloud

When it comes to managing law firm IT, life is often better in the cloud. A law-firm-centric private cloud will host your legal applications, documents and data, and includes support for your firm’s technology and team.

Learn About Private Cloud for Law Firms