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10 Best Practices for Law Firm IT Management

After Presenting at the Association of Legal Administrators (Central PA ALA) Panel: “10 Best Practices” in Human Resources, Marketing, IT and Collections yesterday, Nick Paulukow wanted to make sure the information he spoke about would be available to anyone who was interested.

After Presenting at the Association of Legal Administrators (Central PA ALA) Panel: “10 Best Practices” in Human Resources, Marketing, IT and Collections yesterday, Nick Paulukow wanted to make sure the information he spoke about would be available to anyone who was interested.

10 Best Practices for Law Firm IT Management

  1. Be sure that your backup data is offsite!
    1. 43% of U.S. companies experiencing data disasters never re-open, and 29% close within 2 years.
    2. It would take an estimated 19 days and $17,000.00 to hire a resource to re-enter sales and marketing data, 21 days and 19,000.00 for accounting records.
    3. Make sure your data is encrypted and secure.
    4. Flexibility – Backup all data, not just some.
    5. Performance – Powerful compression ensures you use up a lot less space and bandwidth.
    6. Usability – A backup is only as good as its ability to restore any version of the data you need.
  2. Take the time to develop  a disaster recovery plan
    1. Determine how your employees will communicate with each other and with customers.
    2. Predetermine location(s) for temporary office space.
    3. Discuss with your employees how they will continue to perform their jobs in a crisis situation, and train them on emergency tasks.
    4. Know current replacement costs associated with your critical business technologies.
    5. Have a succession plan in place for key personnel.
    6. Make sure that your insurance policy includes replacement hardware, software, and data entry.
  3. Have a current and accurate network diagram
    1. Visual representation of your network speeds understanding and education, even for non-technical staff.
    2. Detailed record keeping is key in any organization. In the event of any disaster (theft, natural disaster, etc.) a diagram will aid asset inventorying.
    3. Budget and IT planning will be easier and smoother when your network diagram shows exactly what you have in your office, and can speed the decision to replace or update existing equipment.
    4. Information on your networked equipment speeds up time IT staff spends troubleshooting issues. With all of the information at their fingertips, they spend less time researching.
  4. Have a password policy for all users
    1. Educate your users on keeping their password secure and protected.
    2. Set your network system to require password changes on a consistent basis with the inability to reuse passwords.
    3. Consider implementing account lockout policy.
    4. DO NOT write your password down and keep it at your desk.
    5. NEVER share your password.
  5. Manage your smartphones properly.  If a device is connected to your network it must be password protected
    1. Set a password on all devices that are connected to the company network.
    2. Setup remote kill on all devices. If stolen, the phone can be remotely accessed and all critical data can be deleted before it gets into the wrong hands.
    3. Make Bluetooth hidden or non-discoverable.
    4. Start planning for single console Mobile Device Management (MDM) software to control your devices, instead of having multiple devices and versions.
  6. Be aware of issues with remote access
    1. Maintain control – You should make sure you can monitor devices very closely while in standalone/offline mode and when connected to the network.
    2. Don’t go simple – Managers often will select remote-access technologies on the basis of simplicity and convenience. This can open the door to many threats.
    3. Assess risk – You should be conscious about having the ability to verify each device and end user entering the corporate IT environment.
    4. Educate employees – Do not take for granted password policy and educate employees at all levels about the risks and benefits of secure remote access.
    5. Never save your password for the remote access client.
  7. Understand the options and pros and cons of cloud computing in the legal industry
    1. Know where your data resides – Is it a public cloud, private cloud, or a hybrid solution?
    2. Review the costs of cloud solutions vs. on premise solutions.
    3. Understand the terms and conditions of the provider – Who controls the data?
    4. 100% dependence on Internet connectivity.
    5. Legal software providers typically do not offer cloud based solutions – Why? Too much liability involved lost or unsecure data.
  8. Plan and budget properly for your IT needs – Technology does not become “classic,” – it becomes obsolete.
    1. Understand what you have with an up to date asset inventory.
    2. Create and develop a replacement program.
    3. Determine your monthly and annual costs.
    4. Understand your renewal dates for software and hardware.
    5. Determine a training budget for staff to keep IT costs lower with strong education.
    6. Cap your IT costs by working with a managed service program provider.
    7. Understand the replacement costs of your hardware and software.
  9. Review  your method of managing your onsite IT person
    1. Who manages the IT department?  This person needs to understand the key components of the IT department and be empowered to ask questions of all IT personnel.
    2. Understand what needs to happen if you terminate your IT staff member and what is required to lock them out. Require updated documentation quarterly showing account information for providers and password information.
    3. Do not feel that you are held hostage by your internal staff member. Set boundaries and require documentation. Know the network password, understand vendor contacts, and request a network diagram.
    4. Have an outside provider who understands the network and setup in case of transition of the internal staff member.
  10. Take advantage of the benefits of social media
    1. See positive ROI and attract new business .
    2. 57% of companies with a blog have gained at least one new customer from their blog, while an astounding 92% of companies who blog multiple times a day have received at least one lead.
    3. 77% of Business-to-Consumer companies have received at least one new customer from Facebook.
    4. 62% of companies using LinkedIn have gained one or more customers through the network.
    5. The cost to manage your Facebook and blog software is minimal after it is setup. It only requires a small amount of time.
    6. Check out http://hootsuite.com/ for a way to manage your social media.