Law firm technology is your business infrastructure. With up-to-date, well integrated systems, workflow is seamless, your team can find what they want quickly and easily and deadlines are rarely an issue because reminders and alerts are in place. Law firm technology is a necessary investment. An article about The American Bar Association 2015 Legal Technology Survey Report offers interesting perspectives on law firm technology. One conclusion, that large firms are more likely than solos or small firm members to say they actively budget for technology expenditures, was not a big surprise. But a word of caution: small firms have less room for the inevitable problems that arise as a result of outdated technology.
The closing paragraph in the Tech Report is not a flattering observation about lawyers and technology. Authors Laura Calloway and Dave Bilinsky say that lawyers are “busy practicing law and often refuse or neglect to plan and budget for technology purchases, and many other things, until circumstances force them to.”
We have a slightly different perspective. Many IMS clients are pro-active about their technology and understand the importance it plays in the success of their law practice. This is probably because clients who work with us understand the importance of investing in their practices, including technology as well as marketing.
However, we also know that some of our clients still have not updated their websites to responsive design and are losing ground to competing estate planning law firms whose websites are mobile-friendly.
If you are one of those law firms that waits until something breaks to fix it, we suggest revising your policy. This may help change your approach. Do a review, or have your CPA do a review, of the last five years of your practice’s annual spend on technology. Make a separate category for the cost of emergency repairs, and especially include the difference if you paid more for an emergency repair (service fees that were higher than for a regular tech call) or to ship parts from a vendor on a rush basis. Determine how much you spend every year overall and the cost of emergencies that are the direct result of old technology. If you can, note if time was lost, i.e., if the phones were out for a day and clients could not reach you.
Granted, some of the repairs or services will be for technology that is not old. But if you find that you are spending a fair amount of money and losing productive time because of broken down systems, you may want to take a more proactive approach to your infrastructure.