As a law firm, you need your IT to be reliable, secure, and properly designed to support your business goals. For most law firms, it is cost-prohibitive to have all the competencies you need to design, manage, and support a modern IT system in-house. Many firms partner with an outside managed service provider (MSP) for some or all of their IT needs. Here are seven essential questions to ask when interviewing MSPs.
Do You Provide the Services We Need?
Some MSPs are full-service providers who can essentially function as your firm’s IT department. Others specialize in one or a few services, such as cybersecurity or software. Choose an MSP that offers the depth and breadth of services to match your firm’s IT needs today and into the future. Check that the provider has experience working with law firms and is well-versed in industry-specific software, security needs, and compliance regulations.
Will You Serve as a Strategic Partner with Our Firm?
An effective MSP will serve as a strategic partner with your firm, assigning a dedicated client manager who will function as your virtual CTO. Your CTO will take the time to understand your firm’s needs and goals and work closely with you to plan, implement, evaluate, and continuously improve technology solutions to support your strategic objectives.
Can We Work Securely?
Given the confidential nature of client communications, law firms have heightened security needs, and security is a crucial factor in any IT decision. Working with a good IT provider will generally result in better security than you could achieve in-house. This is because you will gain access to an entire team of specialists with various areas of expertise rather than being limited to one or two IT professionals who handle all security areas. Further, good MSPs make it their business to keep up to date on the latest technical developments and security practices. Look for a provider that offers multi-layered security with a strong emphasis on defensive measures, including anti-virus, anti-malware, secure DNS, patch updates, 24x7x365 security monitoring, security audits, a strong password policy with multi-factor authentication (MFA), and security training for your staff.
Is Support Available When We Need It?
Reliable IT is crucial to providing superior service to clients, who in today’s world expect their attorneys to be available around the clock. Inquire if the IT provider offers an accessible helpdesk and whether it is available after hours. How fast are the provider’s response times for business critical issues and emergencies? If you require it, is on-site assistance an option? Look for a provider with a team of engineers with various specializations who can efficiently resolve the full spectrum of IT issues. In addition to day-to-day support and troubleshooting, look for a provider that offers proactive maintenance and servicing of your systems and equipment. Through 24x7x365 monitoring, a good managed IT partner can pinpoint a problem in its early stages and fix it before it causes disruption and downtime.
Is Your IT Scalable?
As your firm’s IT needs evolve, you want your system to be nimble enough to evolve with you. Will the provider allow you to easily scale up and down the services you use? Look for a provider that offers month-to-month service terms rather than locking you into a long-term contract. You don’t want to be stuck paying for extra services you no longer need.
Do Your IT Solutions Support Remote/Hybrid Workplaces?
With flexible workplaces here to stay, attorneys and staff must be able to securely access their applications, files, and data whether they are working at the office, at home, or on the go. Remote or hybrid operations require appropriately designed technology solutions. The wrong technology will be slow and clunky and may lack functionality – and productivity and client service will suffer. The transformational shift to flexible workplaces caused by the pandemic accelerated the adoption of cloud-based solutions, such as Software as a Service (SaaS) and Desktop as a Service (DaaS), among law firms.
With SaaS, users access individual software applications, such as Microsoft 365 or Google Docs, over the internet via a web browser or mobile app. Each application is in its own cloud, operated by a SaaS provider. DaaS, a more advanced solution, moves all of a firm’s desktops, servers, applications, and files to a secure, private cloud. Windows desktops are streamed over the internet, and users can securely access their applications and files, including shared files, from any device. Lawyers can work on a file on one device in the office and then pick up exactly where they left off on another device at home. All connections take place in the cloud provider’s secure environment, allowing for security that stretches beyond the firm’s walls to wherever employees are working. The cloud provider handles software updates and upgrades, backup and recovery, and technical support.
Do You Provide Backup/Business Continuity Services?
Many IT providers offer backup and business continuity services, which are crucial in the event your premises and/or technology becomes unusable due to a natural disaster or other emergency. When you work on the cloud, all files and data are backed up automatically and can seamlessly be accessed from any location. A reputable provider will operate from multiple data centers, which have built-in redundancies to safeguard against the possibility of a natural disaster or emergency at one of the provider’s own facilities. Inquire if your provider’s data centers are enterprise N+1 level facilities with multiple layers of security, including biometric access controls and military-grade encryption, to ensure top-of-the-line security. Further, check that all facilities are third-party audited and that they meet all the standards required by the legal industry and your clients’ industries.
Tabush Group is a leading provider of Managed IT Services and Desktop as a Service (DaaS), with a concentration in serving small to midsized law firms. To learn more about how our state-of-the-art IT solutions can make your firm’s operations more efficient and secure, contact us.