Solo Law Firms and IT

by Alexa Drago on June 17, 2016

Responsive-Web-Design435

By Guest Blogger: Will Gosnell

Starting or maintaining your solo practice comes with numerous worries; will you make enough to survive? Will my clients be comfortable with a solo practitioner? What practice areas should the firm focus on? Downtown office or home office? What IT platform should the firm leverage? How much will IT cost?

Chances are some of these questions can be easily answered or you wouldn’t be here in the first place. Others are more complex. Are you prepared to deal with all the complex issues that not only arise from practicing law but those generated from running a business? It’s okay to be overwhelmed. You learn the most when you’re out of your comfort zone.

One of the easier questions to answer is what to do about IT. You can either spend a lot of time and money purchasing servers, applications, battery backups, networking… or you can leverage the cloud. Yes, it’s truly that simple. Purchasing servers and setting up an IT infrastructure in your office is how your dad did business. Today virtually every IT related component of your business can be setup without having any physical equipment to worry about or own (minus, of course, your mobile phone, computer and any other devices). From the phones, to your backup systems the cloud is where you gain the most reliability, flexibility and ROI for your business.  Some interesting cloud facts from Silicon Angle (a leading IT industry publication) before we dive into IT specifics for law firms:

  • 60% of companies outsource IT or plan to this year
  • 82% of companies saved money moving to the cloud
  • 80% of cloud adopters saw improvements in IT after adoption

Phones: Cloud based phone systems are as easy to install as plugging in a cable to the wall. Digium offers a simple setup that provides a lot of options. RingCentral is another option however they cater more to larger offices. All cloud based systems offer the user the ability to take their office phone home and plug it into to your local network and it will ring. This functionality is very useful. All Internet phone services offer call forwarding, voicemail, etc. One component to consider is bandwidth. IP telephony, telephone use over the Internet, requires a good Internet connection.  A connection speed of 16-20 mps or greater should be good for your phones, cloud applications, etc.

Computer storage or a place to install your programs:  There are so many options when it comes to cloud based computing it really depends on what you’re looking for. One of the reasons the cloud is so appealing to so many businesses is the fact you can access all of your information, documents, programs, etc from virtually anywhere with an Internet connection. You could just as easily prepare your brief from a café in Costa Rica as your office downtown.  Your applications and desktop will look the same no matter where you access it from. Combined with an easily configurable email interface working from anywhere truly becomes an option. You could realistically plug your phone into an Ethernet port, have your computer connected to Wifi and your clients and you would not know the difference. Storage is very cheap and is very reliable. GoogleDocs is a decent option for a solo firm but if you’re looking for something to handle your matters a little more elegantly there are other options. Worldox, Clio or many other applications work well in cloud and are easily configured.

Disaster recovery (DR) and business continuity (BC) are basically what the cloud was built for. The best configuration for DR and BC is to have all of your data and documents stored on multiple servers in the cloud. If one server were to fail configurations are easily made so another server immediately and automatically comes on-line with the same data, docs and applications. Most of the time you wouldn’t even know a failure occurred because the transition happens so fast. It’s probably the most important component of cloud computing that cannot be overlooked.

IT support: The same technology that enables users to work from virtually anywhere also offers IT companies the ability to work on and fix anything plugged into the Internet. There’s no real need to have an IT person who is on-site or who will come on-site. Have a problem with QuickBooks or Worldox? Quickly send an email to your cloud infrastructure provider and a fix will be on the way. Can’t figure out how to draw a text box with a border in Word? Send an email and you’ll be quickly sailing through your brief again.

In summary there are so many intriguing ways to leverage the cloud to conduct your business there’s no question a thorough vetting of the possibilities should happen before any IT related decisions or commitments are made. Cloud computing is reliable, cheaper than ever, scalable, secure and chalked full of options for any small to medium sized law firm. From protecting your business’ data to leveraging IP telephony the cloud was made for small businesses like yours.

 

Will Gosnell is the founder and president of Lukava, an IT services company specializing in developing and implementing software solutions for law firms and other small businesses. Will is a former CIO, CTO and software developer for multinational law firms. Will has numerous IT related certificates and a Bachelor’s Degree in Technical Journalism from CSU. You can find out more about Lukava at http://www.lukavalabs.com.

 

Save

Save

Comments on this entry are closed.

Previous post:

Next post: