While there are some technology must-haves that span across businesses, certain industries have unique IT requirements. Check out our recommendations for the technology that will keep your legal office secure, productive, mobile, and generating revenue!
EMAIL MANAGEMENT AND ARCHIVING
A good majority of modern communication happens over email. Especially in law offices, it's important to retain and be able to retrieve email conversations as needed. Our favorite email solution is Microsoft Outlook, but there are plenty of great email options out there if you prefer something different. We prefer Outlook/Office 365 because of its robust security and customization options, solid support, and integration with other popular tools.
If you want to up your inbox game, you may also consider extras like Unroll.me - this free tool lets you mass unsubscribe from newsletters and junk you don't read or want clogging up your work inbox.
IFTTT (short for "If This Then That") is another awesome email and productivity tool. IFTTT helps you automate tasks both in your email and various other applications. Some examples are getting a text message when a certain person sends you an email, scheduling reminders tomorrow for emails you star today, or automatically sending email attachments into Dropbox.
DOCUMENT DIGITIZATION AND MANAGEMENT
Gone are the days of entire rooms filled with file cabinets and thousands of paper documents! Attorneys are required to keep client and case records for many years. Those documents have to be stored somewhere, and these days more people are keeping them in the cloud for its cost-savings and ease of use.
Some document storage and management solutions optimize for better search and retrieval, so you'll easily be able to find that one file from many years ago with just a few keywords.
Some tools you may look into for document storage and management are PracticePanther, AbacusLaw, and Lexbe (which all offer more management tools besides just storage); Dropbox is our favorite for simple cloud storage.
PRACTICE MANAGEMENT SOFTWARE
Most modern lawyers are using one of the many practice management solutions available today to simplify and streamline their business. These can manage everything from internal and client communications to billing and time tracking, and keep it all in one place.
IMAGE-BASED, AUTOMATED DATA BACKUP (BOTH ON- AND OFF-SITE)
Instead of only backing up files, image-based backup creates a copy of your entire operating system and all its data including the system state and application configurations. It's like a snapshot of your entire computer system. If you ever need to return to a backup, this will ensure it's restored back to exactly how it was.
In addition to having backups, it's recommended to store them both on- and off-site, for example both at your location internally and in cloud storage. If something ever happens to the backups stored at your business, for example damage from a fire, flood, theft, or infection, you'll have these off-site backups as a fail safe. As our CEO likes to say about backups, "two is one, one is none".
We also recommend going a step further and setting up a disaster recovery plan. This is just what it sounds like - in the event of a disaster like a data breach, flood, etc., this is a detailed guide for how you'll get up and running again as fast as possible. Your data backups come into play here, but you'll also need to have an action plan for everything else that goes into recovering your business in an emergency situation.
MOBILITY AND DEVICE MANAGEMENT
Attorneys are frequently in and out of the office, making it super important to have good mobile capabilities. When set up correctly, you can have access to all your files and data right from your mobile phone via the cloud.
Mobile device management can and should be implemented across any company-provided phones as well. "Mobile device management (MDM) is a type of security software used by an IT department to monitor, manage and secure employees' mobile devices that are deployed across multiple mobile service providers and across multiple mobile operating systems being used in the organization." (Webopedia)
You can centrally monitor and manage security and data needs from one area - a useful example is in the event a company phone is lost or stolen, it can be remotely wiped of data.
VoIP has been an amazing tool for businesses. Instead of being beholden to your desk for phone calls, you can use VoIP services to forward calls from your company phone to your cell, check office voicemails from any device, and take calls from your computer.
In cohesion with all of the above, we feel a robust, multi-faceted security plan is the most important element for the modern business. The most successful company with great clients, culture, profitability, and growth can be absolutely crippled in just hours if they're hit by a cyberattack or data breach.
We find that a lot of people have the attitude of "it hasn't happened to me yet, so I'm not going to worry about it". PLEASE take your security seriously. Ransomware, breaches, phishing, and attacks are on the rise, and criminals know that smaller firms especially tend to have less security resources, making them easy targets.
Many companies also believe that installing any old off-the-shelf antivirus is all they need. There is no silver bullet when it comes to security - you have to protect multiple layers and use products designed specifically for businesses.
Consumer antivirus software generally only covers your basic devices like desktops, laptops, tablets, and phones, and runs separately on each one. Business antivirus, however, is run centrally from your business' server and protects it as well. An IT admin can monitor and control the protection on each device from one place, and protection is far more robust than in consumer-grade antivirus. In this area, you certainly get what you pay for.
It's so easy to prevent a disaster situation from ever happening in the first place with a solid security and backup plan. If you haven't put something into place yet, do it ASAP. It's never too late.