Steps that you can take to cut your technology expenses while still allowing your firm to grow and prosper.
By Andres Hernandez, Technology Consultant
In today’s world, technology plays a huge role in how law firms do business. You need a web presence so potential clients even know you exist. You need computers for, well, everything. You need IT to ensure all of that precious technology keeps running smoothly and to maintain security and confidentiality.
Unfortunately, the cost of all of this technology can become prohibitively expensive, especially for small and mid-size firms. But what can you do? You need it to remain a viable business, right?
While your firm won’t last long if you move backwards, technologically speaking, to save money, there is something you can do to cut costs – move forward. Below are 4 steps that you can take to cut your technology expenses while still allowing your firm to grow and prosper.
Stick to a (Reasonable) Upgrade Plan
Sometimes it seems like technological changes and improvements are happening every day. If you’re a gadget person, you may feel tempted to upgrade to the newest, fastest, fanciest equipment the second it comes out. You just must have it. Alternatively, if all the tech-speak out there sounds like a lot of mumbo jumbo to you, it can be easy to convince yourself that you need the newest equipment so you’re not left behind.
Don’t fall for it. If you’re able to comfortably handle your work on your current computer, for example, you probably don’t need a new one. The same is true for most new versions of software. Keep in mind that this isn’t an argument for not upgrading – you just shouldn’t do it for the sake of getting shiny new gadgets. Focus on areas where you need the most improvement and go from there.
Use Cloud-Based Practice Management Software
Think about a typical in-office computer network and what’s needed to keep it running smoothly and meet a firm’s needs. You have to purchase servers where all of your digital documentation and information lives. You have to pay an IT expert (or possibly even a department). You have to shell out for whatever security measures that expert recommends. You have to upgrade software when it becomes obsolete. And you need space for those servers and IT professionals.
When you use a cloud service, all of those costs fall under the blanket of one bill each month. You pay a service fee that covers the use of their servers for your information, security that is better than anything most small to mid-size firms can afford on their own, IT professionals they employ, and included automatic software upgrades.
On top of this, when your work is on the cloud, it means that you can access it anywhere and anytime, from any device that you want.
We’ve all been hearing this for years, but incredibly few firms have actually done it yet. If you’re in that majority, think about this: using paper is incredibly expensive. Not only do you have to account for the cost of the paper itself, but also printers (and printer maintenance), toner, and office space (because all of those old printed documents have to go somewhere).
By going completely digital, you cut all of those costs out of your budget – and may even make your office more organized.
Try Google Scholar for Research
Costly pay services Westlaw and LexisNexis are still the biggest players in online legal research, but they aren’t your only option. Cheaper services have popped up to compete with them, such as CaseMaker and Fastcase. But if you really want to save money on legal research, one exciting upstart is Google Scholar. It’s completely free, and according to this helpful guide, includes the following legal research information:
“Currently, Google Scholar allows you to search and read published opinions of U.S. state appellate and Supreme Court cases since 1950, U.S. federal district, appellate, tax and bankruptcy courts since 1923 and U.S. Supreme Court cases since 1791. In addition, it includes citations for cases cited by indexed opinions or journal articles which allows you to find influential cases (usually older or international) which are not yet online or publicly available.”
These are just a few steps you can take to bring your technology costs down.
Andres is the co-founder of Wingman Legal Tech, which is a technology consulting firm that specializes in law firm technology. Their technology solutions are designed for simplicity and efficiency.