Smaller law firms don’t need much technology. We’re talking about a firm anywhere between 2 and 4 people. A firm this size usually can’t stomach the security solutions that we like to throw at our medium firms, and by medium we mean 10-30 users. Good technology ain’t cheap, and as hard as it is for us to try and cut some very beneficial technologies out of the equation, it may make sense depending on the firm’s situation. Perhaps a firm is 3 users large and has no plans to expand. Perhaps the owning attorney is content with his firm size. Perhaps the firm is not technically driven and needs the very basic of technology services. Any of these situations call for lower IT bills, a simpler office setup, but in some cases lower firm security.
We often find small law firms in this situation when other IT companies are not willing to work with these small firms anymore. Perhaps they grow and these small firms simply don’t produce enough revenue to make it worth their while to support. We don’t understand this philosophy. We come into these small firms with an idea to give them the best technologies they can budget for, in order to make their IT bills very low or non-existent. With a simple setup, no one should be calling support very often. Tasks like data backups & battery shutdowns and power-ons on power loss should all be automated with minimal monitoring from our end. Maybe a small firm with little data will pay $50/month for offsite backup which includes us monitor the backup on a daily basis just to make sure it was successful. These small firms usually purchase 5 or 10hr blocks of offsite time at our reduced rate, $99/hr. They find that our block pricing is a lot easier to work with.
The Basic Tech Costs
The trick is to be open to the idea that it will cost some bucks to get you to the point where monthly IT bills are little to nothing. Just remember, your paying now to minimize IT bills in the future. Small firms need a hosted email solution, it’s the most secure, it’s always up, and it’s cheap! It’s $8/month per user. You’ll also need a central place to store data so all users have access. This can be done with the purchase of a very low end server which can be $1,900. On the other hand, you can purchase an upgraded workstation for around $850. You won’t get the superior hardware or performance in the workstation that you’ll get in the server, but it’ll due just fine if you just work with Word & PDF documents as well as Quickbooks or another networked accounting software. Both options get a 3yr hardware warranty so you can’t go wrong. You can forego a server altogether if you just have documents you need shared across each user. You can get email, document sharing & cloud storage for $50/user per year with Google. Very cheap, secure and excellent for both small and large firms. At this point the only thing that’s left is battery backups for the workstations and the server which are usually $100 – $150 each depending on how much battery runtime you want. Then you need some sorta antivirus for each workstation which usually runs $40 per license. With all these solutions, you have a secure network. You can add things to make it better, but these solutions are the best of the very basic with high security and low cost in mind.
For small firms, if you not willing to pay for the extras that really protect your firm (firewall, spam filtering, server, file and folder security) then you still have some options. Clients with a firewall never call about virus issues. Clients with no firewall may call support 2 or 3 times a year about virus issues. A firewall subscription is roughly $1000/yr depending on the options. It just depends on how secure you want to be and what your willing to spend. Make sure you know all the options before making any tech decisions, and make sure the IT person you deal with doesn’t give you a bunch of techno babel. Make sure you understand the ramifications of your tech choices, question him until you are 100% in sync. ASK QUESTIONS! The more questions answered, the less surprises there will be on your network and on your bill.