Time is money. For your law firm to remain at the top of its game amongst industry peers for the name of the game for profitability is productivity. The technology your team uses to manage day-to-day operations, if implemented properly, keeps your practice competitive, ahead of the curve, and highly productive. However, if your firm’s IT is not properly managed, it drains resources, time, and money. Technology, done right, is an efficiency catalyst. It lets you automate daily tasks, provide security, and makes your law firm more efficient, increasing billable hours while reducing lawyer frustration. Top law firms recognize that their technology infrastructure is the key to increasing billable hours and gaining a competitive advantage. Here are four top strategies forward-thinking law firms are taking advantage of to improve their productivity and billable hours with technology.
Tip #1: Reduce Downtime with an Outsourced IT Support Team
Outsourcing the hosting and management of IT services helps law firms become more productive. For today’s law firms, technology is deeply integrated into the day-to-day functions and business processes. The effect of this means that any IT downtime has a major effect on law firms’ productivity.
This integration of technology, and the speed it enables raises expectations in level, speed, and flexibility of service delivery. If there is downtime, it is critical for law firms to recover as quickly as possible. No matter the size of a law firm, downtime is very expensive, which can be detrimental to its bottom line.
In fact, 98% of organizations report that the average cost for an hour of downtime is $100,000. In many situations, downtime is unavoidable, and it is part of running a business. However, when it comes to IT, downtime can be avoided or, at the very least, minimized. To avoid the risk and diminish the amount of downtime, law firms are outsourcing their IT.
Having an entire team of skilled IT staff who specialize in law firms guarantees that IT issues will be resolved quickly and efficiently. Law firms who have a generic managed service provider are at a serious disadvantage because of their limited skills, capabilities and long-term focus and experience on how law firms operate. They lack definite expertise with handling shifting technical demands of law firms and the specialized software knowledge.
Utilizing a technology consultant that is law firm centric opens the law firm to an entire team of IT experts while offering access to the latest technology and solutions, specific to law firms. This extensive knowledge, paired with an entire team of knowledgeable technical staff provides less downtime and increased profitability.
Tip #2: Proactively Implement a Cybersecurity Plan
In today’s security landscape, it is no longer “if” there will be a cybersecurity breach but “when.” A lack of planning and proactive care significantly increases a law firm’s risk of cyberattacks. According to the American Bar Association, one in four law firms will experience a cybersecurity breach. When things go wrong, it is important to already have a plan in place to respond, reducing the damage and downtime a cybersecurity breach will cause.
Depending on the type of breach, a law firm could be down and without its data for several days, resulting in hundreds of lost billable hours. In 2020, the average cost of a cybersecurity breach for small to medium size businesses was $2.64 million. Having a security plan to quickly contain the damage and get a law firm back up and running is crucial. Work with a legal focused IT consultant that specializes in security response plans to create a custom security plan for your firm, test it, and train your employees on how to respond to a security breach to reduce the cost and severity of business interruption when a breach occurs.
Tip #3: Use Microsoft Teams for a Productive Workflow
One major cause of lost billable hours for law firms is scattered data and communication. In the age of collaboration technology, and a remote workforce, competitive law firms are taking advantage to create a more efficient workflow to manage data and internal/external communication. For example, Microsoft Teams is quickly becoming the legal industry’s choice for productive communication and collaboration.
Client communication is a full-time job in itself. It is difficult to manage and keep track of the numerous channels and forms of communication, which causes billable hours to slip away. Microsoft Teams allows law firms to keep everything they need in one place, empowering them to complete transactional tasks and communication much faster. No more waiting for emails or searching for scattered documents and data. Attorneys are easily and efficiently able to respond to their clients from one platform, easily storing and sharing information wherever they are. Ask your IT consultant today to assist your firm in setting up productive workflows in Microsoft Teams to increase efficiency and save billable hours.
Tip #4: Transition to the Cloud
Many law firms are transitioning to the Cloud to improve efficiency. Cloud technology gives law firms web and mobility options to manage law firm, client, and matter data and measure employee performance anywhere, anytime, and on any device. The Cloud also provides law firms with the flexibility to scale up or down with ease so your firm can adapt to the changing times without additional cost. Another cost-saving benefit of the cloud is there is no upfront hardware cost and there is an extended life-cycle. On premise servers have to be replaced but the cloud will run continuously. Law firms are finding there is less downtime by switching to the cloud and they are also saving time as they no longer have to monitor servers. More and more law firms are transitioning to the cloud to increase their efficiency and security, consequently increasing their billable hours.
Forward-thinking law firms are already using these technologies to increase their billable hours. Implementing these four strategies will help your law firm succeed in the modern era and give your law firm a competitive edge. Being prepared for an emergency, centralizing your communication and data, and transitioning to the cloud are all effective ways to improve productivity and increase billable hours. Technology can either be an advantage or a liability for your law firm. Law firms that do not adapt and embrace this will be left suffering from reduced profitability and an inability to act swiftly in the ever-changing world we live in. The sooner you utilize technology, the sooner you will reap the benefits of efficiency to increase your firm’s profitability.