Why Big Law Firms Need to Modernize Their Approach to IT

Anyone who’s ever gone for a fine dining experience knows it’s not all about the food. Sure, the chef may be the hottest in town with his or her three-Michelin-star restaurant, but the appeal is everything that comes with being there. It’s about servers in white tuxes, a sommelier recommending the perfect wine, and the overall impression that you are being treated to an elite experience.

I tend to think about the fine dining experience whenever I see how IT departments operate within major law firms. The IT departments there often provide a “high touch, white glove” service. By this I mean, like fine dining, it is an all-the-bells-and-whistles elite service. Let me give you an example.

I had a lawyer tell me about a recent meeting where he walked into a downtown law firm board room to find three IT personnel wearing white coats, very professional-looking. They were there to set up the lawyer’s PC to the projector and make sure the connections were there for when it was time to start the meeting. While this certainly ensured a quick and effective start to the meeting, to me, spending all that money on IT resources to have them stand quietly in the back of the room seems like an inefficient use of the firm’s finances.

However, this tends to be typical in the legal vertical. Other industries are taking advantage of outsourcing arrangements and embracing the latest advancements in technology to revolutionize the way they do business. Retail, for example, is using cloud technology to develop advanced customer analytics that help them increase business significantly. Law firms, on the other hand, tend to want to keep everything in house.

I understand that this all comes down to trust. When you have a single meeting that will determine the outcome of a pending billion-dollar deal, you don’t want to leave anything to chance. But as the world around us continues to transform, holding fast to the old way of doing things will become counter-productive in the long run. Here are just a couple of reasons why.

Younger clients want a 21st century touch

The legal industry need only look to the insurance industry as a cautionary tale. Insurance companies were loath to change the way they operated. So as the old giants stayed the course, newer upstart operations started offering options that only became possible after big data became so readily available. Things like UBI (user-based-insurance) where drivers pay rates based on actual driving performance and paying with crypto-currencies are things that appeal to millennial clients. This is key because as of 2018, the millennial generation has the largest purchasing power of any generation in the market.

In the legal vertical, smaller, more agile law firms that enable lawyers to become more mobile, work from anywhere, and deal with younger clients in the manner they prefer, could soon run laps around the stagnant old-guard. And in order to embrace this new way of doing things, it’s going to mean moving from old-school hard servers to a cloud-based approach.

Outsourcing can do more than just save money

Law firms tend to view dealings with the IT department as purely transactional. When something breaks or doesn’t work, you call the IT people and they come and fix it. However, if instead they developed a more trusting and collaborative relationship with IT experts inside and outside their offices, they would reap the benefits in several different ways.

Outside consultation can provide expertise to help an organization figure out how to become more agile. It isn’t one-size-fits-all, but an experienced provider can find the model that will allow for the ability to easily scale up and scale down as required. I’ve seen legal firms try to implement solutions in a DIY fashion often leading to confusion and chaos. Had they worked with a partner with experience, the chances of success would most likely have been higher.

The right partner can save time, hassle and money – allowing experienced professionals to look at fundamentals such as imaging, re-imaging and reconfiguring PCs. Tasks that are practiced with streamlined process for a pro, but that require re-allocation of highly skilled internal resources who may only do this work occasionally if done internally. For firms willing to be bolder, advanced solutions that take workloads from hard servers and moving them to cloud-enabled solutions and storage could have an incredible impact on the whole organization. There are so many ways to make day-to-day operations leaner and more efficient in a 21st century landscape – but it requires a team.

The bottom line – organizations like ours have done it before, many times. And we’ve got it down to a science. We work with legal and accounting firms to manage those elements of our business where they have the experience we do not. But technology? We do this every single day and have the expertise, experience and insight that comes from years of helping companies looking to advance their business.

Ultimately, law firms will need to evolve or get left behind. As the next generation looks to find work at a law firm or hire a law firm, high touch & white glove may not be enough to win them over. We’d love to be the ones they call. Because we know we can help.

Interested in starting the conversation and developing your next steps? Feel free to drop me a line. I’d be more than happy to share my thoughts and experiences.

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