Proactive Care vs. Reactive Action
I’ll make a virtual bet with you that you can reduce the stress in your law practice and put out fires in your personal life all by using the following strategy for your technology.
Most people don’t and it will cost you in the long run.
If you’re an entrepreneurial-minded attorney and you want to reduce the amount of technology-related stress in your life in the next 12 months, this information will be vital.
Now, it is very likely that you’re not experiencing major ongoing technological pain and stress right now.
If that’s the case, I can bet you either fall in one of two categories – yes there are only two. You are either doing proactive care with your technology or taking re-active reactions. There is no in-between.
If you are in the latter, you are most likely in the stage before the major pain shows itself. Can you get by without exercising at all for 20 years and eating cheeseburgers and Doritos every day?
Sure, but the day will come when you will pay.
Let’s take this health analogy a bit further.
What is the real purpose of staying healthy? To do our best to avoid the most common health concerns.
If you’re not healthy, you won’t be able to be there with your family, play with your kids, and at the end of a long workday, you’ll be a worthless couch potato.
We all know we should eat well, exercise daily, get enough sleep, and have a proper balance between working and living.
Sadly, everyone is aware of the health situation our entire country is in and that the majority ignores the fact that they should be proactive and simply hope nothing happens.
By not taking care of yourself year after year after year, you are simply increasing the odds that something major will happen.
It’s not a matter of IF but simply WHEN.
And when that day comes, you will pay dearly, perhaps with your life, if not, with lots and lots of time, money, and energy to reverse the long-term effects of negligence.
And so it is with your technology.
The price of negligence and being reactive always end up being far greater than being proactive.
I’d like to share a few true stories that I hope will serve as a wake-up call, helping you realize whether you are in danger of being in a reactive position with your IT or not.
If you are currently just applying some duct-tape fixes here and there and hoping everything is fine and secretly thinking you are saving money because you don’t have an IT bill, I hope you’ll realize this is very a risky approach.
Our first example is a 12 user law firm in New York City who found me at a presentation I gave at the ABA Techshow in 2015.
We migrated them over from Windows to Macs. They had one outsourced IT guy, and they told me they “had some varying views about how good he is.” They also thought he had their network secure and their backups in place.
From their perspective, part of the problem is that it was just one guy. Many issues would end up running over several days.
The final straw came just before I met them at the ABA Techshow when they were hit with the Cryptolocker ransomware virus.
It turns out, their backups he had set up had failed a while back and only half of their files were backed up.
They ended up having to pay the ransomware to get their data back and fortunately they were able to. Otherwise, a tremendous amount of data would have been lost worth hundreds of thousands of dollars to the firm.
This is a perfect example of a firm using an hourly IT guy only when things go south.
We see this a lot.
The problem is that the hourly IT guy is often treated like a plumber.
When do most people call the plumber? Only when they have to.
So most firms who just use an hourly guy will have someone in-house who knows enough about technology (enough to be dangerous, that is).
This person takes care of most things and does their best. This usually involves a lot of duct-tape fixes, using technological zip-ties and hours spent Googling to get things to work.
Or they just call in the hourly IT guy to set things up initially then leave it, hoping it doesn’t break.
This is the equivalent as buying a used car, having a trusted mechanic look it over and fix anything wrong, then never doing anything to it until it breaks down!
Stupid, right? Yes, but many of you reading this are managing your firm’s technology with this exact approach.
The next example is a solo attorney with a part-time assistant.
She had taken care of everything completely on her own for 3 years and was sick and tired of sinking hours into trying to fix issues since her practice was booming and she had very little time to deal with these things.
She realized she needed help and reached out to us. Sadly, our relationship ended in less than 30 days.
We had made an exception to our 10-user minimum policy and brought her on board because I could tell there was enough pain to warrant our services and she was happy to pay our fee to get everything addressed.
However, we are not hourly guys, who come in and simply put out fires.
We have a very methodical approach. I believe strongly that prescription without diagnosis is malpractice. This means our first 30 days consist of an in-depth diagnostic process, where we get a complete sense of how everything is setup. We look at the network, security, email, backups, case management system, file management system, mobile device management, and more.
Once we complete this, we prioritize the highest pain points and biggest opportunities and start addressing them one by one.
Our service is a true flat-rate, so there’s not a separate quote for each thing we recommend doing.
This provides the freedom to do what is best for our client and tackle project by project, without being constantly impeded by an hourly rate.
You’re probably wondering what went wrong and why did the relationship end? She expected all of the issues that had developed over 3 years to be resolved overnight.
Now, if you’re 100 pounds overweight and decide you want to run a marathon in 2 weeks…well, that’s just not gonna happen.
It takes time, proper preparation, then you can start working on things step by step.
Our approach is not instant or overnight, but long term, we peel back all of the layers and stabilize things, then make them more and more reliable and once the biggest pain points have been addressed, we begin to focus on improvements in productivity.
This approach allows us to deliver an experience to our client that most would never dream of.
This proactive approach is completely different from a reactive approach and allows you to leverage technology in ways that doing the bare minimum will simply never allow.
Final example here.
A client we signed with a 15 employee law firm was quite tech-savvy. He even had a stint working at Apple while studying law and was the first to introduce Macs into the firm.
Bit by bit the rest of the firm switched over and they are were all on Macs. He had done a good job of taking care of the technology needs of the firm, but all this was forcing him to be both an IT Guy and an attorney.
Obviously, the role of attorney brought in much more in revenue than being the IT guy.
A couple of days before we discussed our services, there had been storms and power outages. When he came in on Monday, the router had reset itself, losing the server’s IP address and no one in the firm was able to access any company files or do any work for 4 hours, while he dug and dug trying to get this fixed.
The previous “savings” the firm was benefiting from by having him manage the technology was lost in a matter of hours.
What does it cost the firm when you have 15 people unable to work?
And this was right after the Thanksgiving break, so people had a LOT of work to get working on.
He was extremely excited at the prospect of being able to spend more time practicing law and removing the responsibility of managing the network and into the hands of a firm that spends 100% of its time supporting Mac-based law firms.
I challenge you to take a cold hard look at how you are approaching technology within your firm.
You are either in one of two buckets; Proactive or Reactive.
There is no in-between.
Is there an IT company proactively managing all of your technology, so that you can sleep soundly at night, knowing that security updates, backups, servers, etc. are being monitored proactively?
Do you have an advisor that can keep your law firm on the cutting edge and make the best use of the technology available to your firm, so that technology can be used as a profit-boosting leverage point?
Now, if you are in the reactive bucket, make a decision to get out of it.
You want to look for an IT provider that is not a one-man shop. You want a firm that provides something called Managed Services.
If you’re a Mac-based law firm, we’re your best option, hands down.
If you’re on PCs and sick of the blue screen of death, or of having a computer constantly on the repair bench, or dealing with viruses, maybe now’s the time to switch to Macs, so give us a call.
If you’re staying on PCs but not sure where to find a good Managed Service Provider, feel free to reach out to me via email. I belong to a nation-wide network of the best Managed Service Providers and can most likely make an introduction to a company in your area.
How much risk are you willing to tolerate and do you want to wait until your firm’s network suffers a heart attack to realize you need to be proactive?