Creating an IT Budget for Law Firms

The Importance of Creating IT Budget for Law Firms

When it comes to information technology, it’s hard to think of a business that couldn’t use some help. IT is a specialized field that requires intensive training to master. Since most professionals have spent years honing their own craft, it’s no surprise that IT is not their forte.

Unfortunately, so much of the business world revolves around IT operations these days, and this is particularly true of law firms. Not only do they create a vast amount of data that must be stored and organized, but they have serious legal and ethical concerns surrounding the security of that data.

For these and other reasons, it is extremely important that law firms address IT concerns, and this means creating a dedicated budget for in-house or third-party IT support, or both. Businesses that balk at paying for the services of IT experts should know that there could be very serious consequences of failing to implement proper support systems. Why is it so important for law firms to create a sensible IT and Technology budget?

Legal Concerns
Law firms are more aware than most of the legal ramifications of failing to properly protect data, which is why you’d think they’d be the first to jump on the IT support services bandwagon. Companies may be beholden to privacy laws at the federal, state, and even local level, not to mention industry standards for protection of data that could be even more strict.

Law firms have both legal and ethical obligations to protect the privacy of their clients and the confidential data entrusted to them. Dedicated in-house and outsourced IT services are an essential component of meeting government and other regulations where privacy is concerned, and law firms that fail to properly protect data could face not only the wrath of dissatisfied clients, but also penalties and other legal repercussions.

Financial Concerns

First, we’ll talk about budget. Business standard for IT budgets is typically between three and seven percent of overall revenue. That is a very subjective number with many variables and is often dependent upon the industry they are in. For example, “trades-based” businesses (i.e., auto mechanic, plumber, etc.) may not need as much technology and would fall on the lower end of spectrum, whilst law firms and other technology-heavy industries (i.e., healthcare and financial) would be on the higher end at seven percent or above.

The below graph is a snapshot representation of IT spending as a percent of revenue specific to the healthcare industry:

Let’s take the budget conversation a step further and discuss the whys of budgeting for IT. There are two very good reasons for law firms to set aside budget specifically for IT support services when it comes to finances: efficiency and long-term savings. True, IT services for law firms will cost money, but proper implementation could end up saving law firms a ton in the long run.

First, there is efficiency to consider. Proper IT support services deliver the expertise that means IT systems will always be up to date and running efficiently. Monitoring, maintenance, backups, and disaster recovery plans will limit downtime, to the benefit of staff and clients. Cloud services, software solutions, and 24/7 IT support ensure that operations run smoothly so that staff members don’t have to deal with hiccups and delays.

When operations are streamlined and everything is running smoothly, law firms will enjoy the greatest efficiency and performance. This not only reduces waste, saving money, but it also maximizes profitability. In addition, law firms will enjoy untold savings related to preventive efforts.

Consider the potential financial consequences of a breach. Whether hackers steal data, corrupt it, or hold files for ransom, a breach could cause serious harm to operations. With proper backups and a recovery plan in place, the immediate impact of such occurrences (downtime, loss of data) could be minimized.

However, there are still the long-term repercussions to consider, possibly including government penalties for failure to meet privacy laws, loss of clients, loss of employees, loss of revenue, and loss of reputation, just for example. These are potential outcomes that should concern any business, and a team of IT professionals is the best defense.

With expert IT support solutions from a reliable provider like CTI Technology, law firms can get the IT services needed to rest easy. The only question is why any law firm that relies heavily on modern information technologies would fail to budget for crucial IT services in this day and age.

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