It’s an exciting time to be a lawyer. Canadian law firms are adopting new technologies to deliver legal services more efficiently and effectively than ever before. Legal tech is evolving at an astonishing pace, and enterprising lawyers have a wide variety of tools to choose from.
With so many law firms in need of tech support, IT providers are eager to offer their solutions. But how do you know who to trust, or whether they are the right company for you?
We’ve outlined some common red flags to watch out for when researching outside IT management for your firm:
They don’t understand law firms
Lawyers have unique business needs. In order to deliver quality service and protection for your clients, you require an IT provider who is knowledgeable about the operation, priorities and culture of a thriving law practice.
According to LAWPRO, law firms are prime targets for hackers because of their valuable data: financial and medical records, M&A details and other privileged information can bring a high price on the black market or even worse, bring excellent ransom. The stakes are high and it's critical that your IT provider can execute adequate security measures for your firm and clients.
From document management to e-discovery, for many firms legal software is an important element of day-to-day operations. Something as small as slow-loading files or periodic screen crashes can disrupt workflow and cost you time, money and patience.
You have invested in your software, so don't lose out on its value with an IT provider who isn't familiar enough to provide the necessary integration, optimization and support that will keep your team productive and your practice free of technology hassles.
The solution they're offering isn’t their core business
For example, many onsite managed service providers are now offering Cloud-based solutions, but they lack the experience and infrastructure to deliver it effectively. Before you proceed, ensure the provider has experience, credible references and extensive staff training for the specific solution they are offering.
They outsource some of their services
This isn't necessarily a red flag, because the majority of small to mid-sized IT providers, especially those who offer Cloud IT, resell third-party solutions and host their data on other companies' servers. They will often outsource their help desk to another company as well, sometimes to another country.
However it's important that you are aware of their third-party arrangements, because this can translate to them having less accountability and less control over your systems and data.
Companies who own and operate their own equipment are more familiar with the system, which means less problems, and most importantly, more accountability should something go wrong.
They don’t disclose where your data is being hosted
It’s important to know where your physical servers are located – if you aren’t housing your servers on premise, where will they be? Will they be kept in a secure, climate-controlled facility, or in the trunk of someone’s car?
If the provider is Cloud-based, their data may not be stored on Canadian soil. If they host your data on servers belonging to a third party, they may not even know where it’s located, or it could be spread out among multiple servers in multiple locations.
If data is hosted in a foreign jurisdiction, you will need to assess the risks related to that jurisdiction’s privacy and security laws.
It’s also important to determine who holds custody of your data, and how easily you would be able to access it should the need arise.
They have hidden fees
It’s important to watch out for additional, hidden costs. More and more managed service providers are now using a fixed fee model to simplify IT management – ensure the costs for services such as after hours support, upgrades and maintenance are clearly outlined in the agreement.
By no means is this article comprehensive: there are countless other things to watch for when vetting a prospective technology provider. Subscribe to the LexCloud.ca blog for more useful legal IT resources, and check out our upcoming ebook, “10 Questions Every Law Firm Should Ask a Prospective IT Provider” to get you started on your journey to better IT.