How to Find the Right Law Firm IT Provider
Technology changes fast. Legal technology often changes even faster. Not only is managing law firm IT challenging, doing so requires skillsets from both the “general IT” category as well as the “legal technology” category—a combination that’s hard to come by.
In the general IT school of knowledge and expertise, you have networks, servers, hardware, software, security, email… and more. In the legal technology area of expertise you have legal case management software, document management software, eDiscovery, dictation… and so on.
So how does a small practice manage law firm IT? Should they try to do it in-house? Hire a local IT person? Ask a colleague what they do?
In this post, we’ll try to help answer this question by providing 5 practical things your law firm can do when evaluating or searching for a law firm IT provider.
Let’s get started.
1. Exclusively Legal-Focused
When looking for a law firm IT consultant or provider, look for a company (or person) that is solely devoted to the legal industry. Knowing how to setup a server or computer network is one thing (and, by the way, something every basic IT professional should know). Knowing the difference between practice management vs. document management software, or how to deploy and manage that high-maintenance eDiscovery is another thing entirely.
2. Certified in the Software Your Law Firm Uses
Our next best practice tip for choosing the right law firm IT provider is to look for a provider with certifications (or at least tons of experience) working with and supporting the software your law firm relies on every day. At the risk of being repetitive on point #1 above—being a good IT person alone isn’t enough.
I cannot tell you how many law firms have groused to me that their IT consultant, while otherwise capable, takes a shrug and “not my area of expertise” attitude towards the nuances of their legal software.
Make a list of the software your law firm relies on and ask the law firm IT company specifically if they have certification for those applications. If you’re not sure where to start, the most common software applications used by law firms include:
- Time Matters
- Timeslips with QuickBooks
Equally important as knowing how to install, manage and support each legal practice management or document management application in your firm is understanding how they will all work together.
Some legal case management applications integrate well with Microsoft Office, but only specific versions. Some document management systems (DMS) can talk directly to your practice management app… but must be setup just right.
Knowing these nuances requires a lot of experience and requires a true legal technology expert.