Top 5 IT Considerations When Starting Your New Law Firm

New firm

We’ve recently had the pleasure of helping several law firms and consulting firms split off from one entity to form a new, growing entity of their own.

While there are many technology problems we love to solve for our clients, being the team to design, build, standardize, secure, and support a network from scratch is a particularly rewarding experience. With these projects fresh in our minds, we wanted to compile best practices to share with anyone who is pursuing a similar venture.

If you’re an attorney branching out to start your own practice, there are a handful of factors that will have a major influence on when and how you’re able to launch your new firm. We’ll walk you through some of the most important considerations to work through from an IT perspective below.

1 – Expectations

What are your employees expecting when it comes to your technology systems?

If some or all of your people are coming from large firms with a highly functional and well organized document management system and strict data privacy policies and lightning-fast machines with at least two extra monitors, they will not be as productive without those same resources.

If some or all of your people are coming from small firms without many security measures (e.g. multifactor authentication, controlled file sharing), or if they were allowed to work around firm-sanctioned technology if they wanted to, it will take them some (non-billable) time to come up to speed with a more sophisticated setup.

2 – Data

If you’re starting off with data from other sources (be it one other firm or each individual attorney), where does it reside now and how are you migrating it over to your new firm? Who will be responsible for carrying out that migration and how long will it take?

If there is a high volume of data to transfer, are some files or matters needed more urgently than others? Can you isolate and prioritize those items so your team can work while the remaining bulk of data is handled? Then, how are you going to organize and secure and back up this data to minimize the risk of loss or breach?

3 – Security

This step involves assessing both your own risk tolerance and that of your clients.

Almost all law firms take their confidentiality obligations seriously and make efforts to implement baseline security measures. But some firms will find themselves almost completely obstructed from growing if they are not able to assure sensitive clients through formal audits that they have taken advanced, documented, fully evident steps to keep their data safe.

Think through where you fall on the spectrum and plan your security strategy around that placement from the start.

4 – Timeline              

Timing is often tricky when it comes to launching a new firm; in many cases you’ll have very precise dates dictating when you can announce and kick off operations. And spinning up an entirely new system is not a quick endeavor. To get your firm fully up and running you’ll need to first:

  • Vet and select your technology partner
  • Select, design, and implement core line of business applications
  • Migrate data, licensing, and accounts as needed
  • Implement management software and security measures
  • Develop and document IT policies and procedures including workstation setup
  • Configure your technology environment, software, and integrations
  • Purchase, set up, and disseminate equipment to attorneys and staff
  • Train your team on any new or unfamiliar technologies

If you have a launch date set, make this known to IT providers as soon as you start the vetting process so all parties are prepared to work backward from that deadline and get your firm fully operational for your clients.

5 – Onboarding

Finally, look ahead to when you will be adding more attorneys and staff to your ranks. There’s plenty that goes into creating a smooth and effective experience for employees on the technology side, which we’ve outlined in detail in this article of ours.

Need help?

Planning to start up your own practice and in need of a reliable partner to bring your vision to reality? We can help.

More Insights