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Birmingham Bar Association Bulletin - Fall 2014

Technology Ben Drake, President, Impact Technology Group Invisible, yet Invaluable Your fi rm doesn’t need an IT person. You need business-driven IT solutions. If your law fi rm is like most, meetings with your IT people focus on outages, hardware failures and slow-to-respond servers. Imagine a scenario in which the discussion centers less on fi xing stuff and more on achieving business goals and improving client service. How do you get from here to there? Th e answer is to manage technology in the same way you manage other business functions. Integral , not added on Twenty years ago technology was an amenity bolted onto fi rm operations to enhance effi ciency. Today, appropriate, well-managed technology is essential to operating—let alone succeeding—in the competitive legal marketplace. From housing your law library to parsing hundreds of gigs of discovery data, technology is inextricably woven into how you work. But much like the customized service you off er your clients, one size does not fi t all when it comes to legal IT. In order to substantively enhance your practice, technology needs to be precisely aligned with your culture and business goals. So what is business-driven IT? Sure, you’ll always need somebody to fi x stuff when it breaks. You need the capacity to run programs and support devices. And you need a secure repository for data. Beyond logistical requirements, you need an IT platform that is nimble and responsive to changes in your fi rm. Two or three times a year my colleagues and I sit with each of our clients. We don’t talk about technology, although that’s what we’re paid to provide. Instead, measured up? What are the likely consequences of pursuing or veering off the path? Are current software solutions and cloud platforms compatible with fi rm objectives? On top of this insight we apply technical expertise to develop a master IT plan that addresses everything from network design to application support and strategic planning. It’s less about the routers and fi rewalls, and more about the application of technical solutions to support fi rm growth. We mitigate user problems not just to “fi x” them, but also to improve productivity and profi tability. Getting into the weeds Once an IT master plan is in place, the next step is to establish the means to implement and proactively manage it. One way we do that is by assisting clients with product evaluations to identify the best software and hardware solutions. All fi rms need email solutions, network design and remote access. But what about litigation support? Document comparison and review? Electronic case management? Redlining software? Back offi ce fi nancial management? Successful IT is as individual as your fi rm. And in the same way you would never leave your clients at the courtroom door to fend for themselves, we support our legal clients through selection, installation, migration, project management It’s less about the routers and fi rewalls , and more about the application of technical solutions to support fi rm growth. we get detailed updates on where the fi rm is heading. We talk about revenue projections, client lists and the impact of new laws or encroaching competitors. As well, we review current strategies and assess their impact. How have they 12 Birmingham Bar Association


Birmingham Bar Association Bulletin - Fall 2014
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