3 Risks Law Firms Take When They Underinvest in their Tech Stack
Updated: Feb 24
It’s no secret that the legal industry is heading towards a digital future where more functions rely heavily on software. However, underinvesting or putting off purchasing stronger software solutions can create more problems for law firms than if they had no tech stack at all. As was seen with the Southwest Airlines cancellations during the holiday season, underperforming software goes far beyond the costs of “technical debt.” It can impact the business’s reputation and viability, which costs far more than software. Whether law firms already have an IT infrastructure in place or are looking at a solution to begin building a digital backbone, they need to ensure that they are budgeting enough to invest in a solution that won’t leave them vulnerable to additional risks that could cost their firm thousands of dollars in the long-run.
In this article, we will look at the top three risks law firms take when they underinvest in their tech stack.
What are the 3 Risks Law Firms Take When They Underinvest in their Tech Stack?
The Southwest Airlines scheduling issues are a cautionary example of what can happen to law firms should they experience a software malfunction. While many might assume that customer dissatisfaction is the biggest risk, there are several other negative implications when they underinvest in an adequate software solution.
1. Complete Operational Shutdown
If a firm’s operating system gets hacked, malfunctions, or the provider goes out of business, attorneys can find themselves scrambling with lost data that is nearly impossible to retrieve. These types of shutdowns are particularly prevalent with on-premises software that are more prone to being compromised during break-ins, inconsistent maintenance, and natural disasters that can bring a legal practice to a standstill.
Not only can this create potential compliance issues, but it also limits the firm’s ability to support its clients and accept new business requests. Existing clients expect efficient and consistent services and often deal with sensitive matters that can heighten emotions. Additionally, potential clients searching for a legal professional can deal with time-sensitive issues. They will move on if a competing law firm can expedite the process.
2. Malpractice Claims & Potential Disbarment
A total firm shutdown is not the only consequence of software hacks and failed software. As confidential client data is compromised, firms are also vulnerable to malpractice claims that are expensive to defend. Malpractice lawsuits can take months, if not years, to be resolved and cost thousands of dollars to defend that law firms can’t afford to lose. Additionally, malpractice claims can lead to potential disbarment for attorneys if they do not meet their obligation to protect confidential client data.
A recent example of a data breach caused by unsecured software is security issues by the California Bar Association. Over 320,000 records were leaked to third-party websites because the bar’s case management system did not have the proper security measures to ensure that the confidential materials were being appropriately managed.
3. High Employee Turnover Rates
As the legal industry is already experiencing a skills shortage, law firms cannot afford to lose any more valuable employees. When attorneys, paralegals, bookkeepers, and support staff have to work manually or use outdated systems that create more work, they will most likely leave for a more modern firm that provides them with the software solutions they need to automate redundant tasks and get their job done efficiently and effectively.
Systems that create more work and limit employee flexibility and work-life balance do not create a healthy work environment and significantly set firm recruitment efforts back. If employee turnover is high, it creates unmanageable workloads for the staff members who stay and stunt how many new cases can be taken on to grow a firm’s profits.
Is a Cloud Platform the Right Software Solution for Law Firms?
Yes, a modern and comprehensive cloud-based provider, like the LEAP legal practice productivity solution, help law firms eliminate the risks associated with using outdated or inadequate legal software solutions. Let’s take a closer look:
Cloud software typically runs on global cloud infrastructure through companies like Amazon Web Services (AWS). These infrastructures mean that even if one server goes down, it can instantly be run on a different server in a new location so that there is no disruption in service. Additionally, cloud software does not require firms to run and manage the hardware in their offices so that users can access the software from anywhere, on any device, so they never miss a billable minute.
The right cloud solution will offer multiple layers of security and protection for the firm’s data to maintain compliance with their jurisdiction’s rules. When evaluating a software provider, ensure they offer:
User-based roles and access
Multiple levels of encryption
An all-in-one cloud solution that provides users with automation across all their workflows and remote accessibility set law firms up for success in retaining and recruiting the best legal talent. As tedious work becomes streamlined by technology, firm staff can focus on more meaningful and billable work. Additionally, they can access matters, documents, and updates from court, at home, or on the go. It gives employees the flexibility to work when and where they prefer, creating a healthy work-life balance so that legal professionals do not need to sacrifice their personal life or miss out on personal obligations to maintain their careers.
The Southwest Airlines shutdowns and California State Bar data breach remind law firms that cybersecurity and data obligations will continue to become more regulated as the industry increasingly relies on technology. If law firms fail to re-evaluate if they have made the right choice in the software they currently use or are considering, they can jeopardize the firm’s long-term viability, their staff member’s careers, and their competitive edge against other legal practices. Cloud software that offers law firms a fully-integrated, secure solution can eliminate these risks and set them up for long-term success with a solid digital backbone across all their business functions.
Schedule a demo and see how the LEAP legal practice productivity solution can help your law firm eliminate risks, ensure compliance, and increase productivity and profitability.