IT service management

IT Service Management for Law Firms

September 4, 2017


In 2017 the biggest trend impacting the legal profession is probably still the Internet. While lawyers have been using the ‘net for legal research for years, what’s changing is that this stoic profession is finally embracing cloud models to change how they conduct business. From the decline of in-house council employment models, and outsourced “as-a-service” tools, to an increase in-off site IT service management contracts, lawyers are finally leveraging the full power of cloud-based resources to run their business.

Let’s review some of these latest tech trends impacting the legal profession.

Legal and IT Service Management Trends

The first trend to note this year is that outsourcing instead of hiring in-house council, is on the rise. Grand View Research predicts the legal process outsourcing (LPO) market will grow to $27.19 billion by 2024. LPO, as a business sector, is defined primarily by outsourcing labor to foreign countries. While call centers and other business models have outsourced labor for years, the idea that law firms can capitalize on time zone differences to provide 24/7 legal coverage for global firms, while reducing expenditures on labor, is very new.

The second trend this year is Internet security as an IT service management process. Law firms have been outsourcing other technology for years; from their copiers to phone system, it’s rare to find even the largest firm without one or more managed service contracts. The difference today is the increasing reliance on the cloud and the rising number of security incidents affecting law firms. Hackers have caught on to how valuable client data can be, which has placed a target firmly on the front door of even the smallest firm.

While small firms have been outsourcing IT service management for years, larger firms are supplementing or replacing their internal hardware and IT teams with outsourced options. That’s because IT service management comes with higher-end network monitoring tools and stronger best practice approaches that stay current with evolving industry standards.

Outsourcing IT security provides these firms with a solid business continuity approach grounded in 24/7/365 intrusion monitoring – something most firms do not currently have, even with an on-site IT team. Most professionals agree that this is a necessity, given that digital technology now allows us to access our work at any time and from any location. Thus, our computer networks should also be monitored in ways that are suitable for this all-the-time digital environment.

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The third trend to note is the increase in cloud storage and software used by law firms. Law firms are taking advantage of the scalability and security of cloud models by storing data off-site. Firms of all sizes are also taking advantage of the cloud as an option in business continuity planning. But in this area, smaller firms have actually led the charge to the cloud because smaller firm budgets necessitate the use of less-expensive digital models. Some of the cloud-based software services that we’re seeing include:

  • Time and Labor models that allow intuitive web-based invoicing for law firms. Companies like Bill4Time and Chrometa offer software designed specifically for expenses and time tracking.
  • Electronic signature software from firms like Right Signature has been around for years. Their 256-SSL encryption, on an Amazon Web Services platform, makes for a particularly secure option for law firms. DocuSign is their competitor and is equally secure.
  • Client and case software offers customizable practice management options that include everything from file storage to scheduling. Clio, LawRD, and Rocket Matter are some of the most popular cloud-options.
  • Document management is a huge part of the legal profession. DropBox has been an undisputed leader in this cloud-based outsourced software category. It is a secure way to access files from any digital device. An article in the American Bar Law Practice magazine suggests DropBox might be best for non-confidential information, “due to encryption issues.”
  • For project management, attorneys are turning to Basecamp as an easy-to-use option for collaboration on the myriad tasks associated with a case. Zoho Projects is a competitor, along with PBWorks.

What’s Next – 2018?

It’s safe to predict that IT service management for law firms will continue to increase in 2018. That’s because the Internet, now more than a decade old, has begun changing even the most traditional of industries, from CPAs to law firms.

The evolving digital landscape has even given rise to Internet-focused legal services firms like Axiom, which Beaton Capital suggests will become the largest legal services provider on the planet next year.

While we can’t fully predict what’s next for the legal profession, it’s safe to say that, as digital technology continues to evolve, so will IT service management for law firms.

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