By the very nature of their business, attorneys generate data that is very sensitive. As a law firm, you carry a tremendous responsibility to guard that data. These days, technology enables you to store and access information very easily and it also allows you to retrieve it at a moment's notice from remote locations via a variety of different devices. Unfortunately, this convenience can pose a serious challenge to the security of that data. In particular, two security concerns are a breach of data by an unauthorized third party, and the accidental release by authorized users due to human error or carelessness. Of course, it goes without saying that any data breach means considerable liability and a damaged professional reputation. You need efficient IT management that can protect your data and defend your systems against cyber attacks. But who in-house is technically proficient to manage the systems to ensure you're protected 24/7 against all the latest hackers and viruses? Managed IT service companies, known as MSPs, are professionals who can provide solutions for these challenges. Let's look at some of factors that create risks for small- to medium-sized law firms.
- Accessibility: With digital storage, and the decrease in paper storage, legal professionals can now easily gain access to necessary information remotely using a variety of different devices. All of this 24/7 access boosts productivity but it creates new risks that didn't exist when paper files were on-site in locked cabinets. How do you support this remote access without opening up new doors for a data breach?
- Growing threats: As cyber criminals constantly devise new ways to hack into systems, your network firewalls have to be updated constantly. No technology, hardware or software can be installed and then forgotten. New viruses and software bugs prompt the need to develop new security patches that have to be installed quickly to keep ahead of with growing s. Staying ahead is a constant battle.
- Multiple locations: As the firm grows so does the IT infrastructure. Even small- to medium-sized law firms may have multiple offices. That means they now have a bigger IT network that becomes more difficult to manage and secure.
- Reliance on technology: With this increasing reliance on technology, your risk of serious business disruption grows if you have any kind of technology failure. Failure can arrive as a data breach, a virus, failed hardware or software, power outage or natural disaster. That means plans for disaster recovery developed by an IT team are very important.
- Limits of in-house support: For most small- to medium-sized firms, there are neither the resources nor the on-going need to have a fully trained support staff available 24/7. You may only have one or two people in this role. As a result, in-house staff may not be able to keep abreast of all the updates and regulatory changes all on their own. Finally, there is one additional limit to in-house support—your own time. You have to supervise them, and its unlikely you have either the background or desire to do that effectively.
- Lack of IT management expertise: Law firms specialize in practicing law. They are not IT specialists. Managing partners remain primarily legal professionals. Their background is not in the management of a technical staff.
Addressing issues: Now we can look for solutions to address the issues discussed above. When it comes to IT management, law firms should have three major goals.
- Data security: Managed IT services can ensure the security of your data because they keep up with new technologies. They will update their software applications as the updates become available. That allows them to meet new challenges posed by cyber criminals.
- Business continuity: Business continuity is very significant for the survival of a business. When your business is disrupted, your fixed costs don't stop, and neither do the demands of your clients. MSPs are full time professionals whose resources you can call on 24/7. They can also develop continuity and recovery plans to protect your business and defend against downtime and outages.
- Cost effectiveness: Like any other business, you are always looking to keep your cost of doing business under control. Since IT is an integral part of your business and you can't do without it, you need to address ways to manage it with the most efficient use of resources. Outsourcing some or all of your IT management can provide resources and availability that is just not possible with an in-house staff. MSPs can provide 24/7 monitoring, technology upgrades, and the depth of expertise and staffing that isn't feasible in the business model of a small- to medium sized business.
In conclusion, we have discussed important aspects of your business and six major issues that present IT management difficulties. You also know which goals you should keep in mind when having your IT networks managed. Managed Services Providers (MSPs) have a business model to help you meet those goals with a long term plan for data security and business continuity.