Small law firms depend on technology to keep things running smoothly.
If your email system goes down, and you aren’t getting important client communications or e-filing notices from court, that’s a serious problem.
If your computer gets infected with a virus and you can’t access your files, it’s a disaster.
If you decide to upgrade your document management system or make a key change to your email system, you’ll probably need guidance from someone who understands digital technologies as well as you understand the legal system.
So how do you find the best technology consultant to help keep your law firm’s computers running smoothly (or fix them when they go on the fritz)?
First of all, be patient and sensible. Don’t just hire the first technology consultant you stumble upon. There are lots of them available, and you should select from among several options. And, in considering the various options, focus on following seven questions…
Here are 7 keys to finding solid help from legal technology consultants.
1. Do they work mainly with lawyers?
There are lots of technology consultants and random geeks out there, but you need one that is best suited for your law firm.
That means finding a consultant that understands that you probably use a client-matter based filing system.
They’ll also understand the heightened ethics requirements that lawyers have to meet. And, they know that privacy and security are of paramount importance as well.
So you want to find a tech consultant who specializes in helping lawyers, particularly ones in small firms like yours.
2. Do they have a good website?
If their website is lame then the odds are they’re not adept at keeping up with important technology changes.
Ideally, the website will have a nice picture of them (and maybe their assistants).
The site will explain clearly (in plain English) what they do to help small firm lawyers, and which products they primarily represent (and, therefore, have a financial allegiance to).
Does the site look good on a mobile device? If not, then cross that candidate off your list.
3. What’s their precise area of technology expertise?
Don’t assume that someone who is great at helping you with practice management software is also going to be great at helping you create a good website (that will help systematize your online marketing).
A website expert is not necessarily great at helping you prevent data breaches, even though your website would be the likely main point of attack.
Remember, you can hire more than one technology consultant, and you probably should depending on what kind of assistance you need.
4. Do they represent only one product in a category?
For example, in the arena of practice management software, do they represent only Clio or do they represent PC Law (or any other PMS software company) as well?
Consultants who represent more than one product in a category are less likely to steer you to a solution that’s not the best fit for you.
5. Do they embrace cloud-based products (or do they favor only server-based solutions)?
The cloud is a major force in technology, but there are still consultants who resist it (usually because they are making most of their money off of server-based products).
Sure, maybe YOU don’t want a cloud-based service, but you shouldn’t take advice from a technology consultant who is resisting cloud-technology for short-sighted personal reasons.
6. Are they systematic and methodical?
Computers are very precise machines and so you want the people who work with your computers to be systematic too.
If the consultant you’re thinking of hiring is not good at returning emails or communicates in vague ways, then take a pass.
7. Do they suggest having remote access to your system?
Assuming you’ve found a solid consultant that you trust, then you WANT them to be able to have remote access to your system.
Giving them such access will allow them to work on your system at a moment’s notice, from anywhere.
The alternative is delayed response and higher cost.
Now you have a framework for finding the best technology consultant. It’s important to be systematic in anything that involves technology, and hiring consultants is no exception.
If you want to take it to the next level check out our free 3-part mini course, which will show you how to create a law practice so smooth that it virtually runs itself.