A Case Study

Are you having trouble staying up-to-date with technology? If so, you’re not alone. The continuing evolution of software and hardware can be more than a busy law firm can manage.  Add to this the new mobile devices, servers and firewalls, and you are probably questioning how often you really need to upgrade.

What Can Happen If We Don’t Upgrade?

Upgrades are necessary to not only support your operations and processes but to integrate properly with legal practice management solutions. And, most importantly, if you don’t upgrade, you could be jeopardizing the reliability and security of your IT. Downtime could hamper your success and data breaches negatively affect your good reputation.

Here’s a case study that shows how important it is to keep your computers and servers up-to-date:

IT Problems:

Mullen & Bizzarro, P.A. is a law firm in Fort Lauderdale with 10 employees.  They’ve been practicing specialties of real estate, business transactions, wills and trusts, and probate for over 20 years. They also owns an affiliated title insurance agency that handles real estate and loan closings.  The legal practice needed an upgrade of their IT system to ensure reliability and security. They had been experiencing issues integrating software systems and programs with their Microsoft platform.

New Solutions Were Required:

Vertical IT provided Mullen & Bizzarro new Dell computers and updated their IT infrastructure with a Datto server, SonicWall firewall, Webroot security and a Remote Management & Monitoring solution to detect and block security threats and resolve reliability issues.

Joseph Mullen explains:

” Vertical IT had, many years ago (10 years or so), acquired the book of business of an IT specialist with whom we had our first IT relationship.  The transition to Vertical IT was seamless and flawless and the services exceptional so we maintained the relationship with Vertical IT over these many years. We had been experiencing issues integrating some of our software systems and programs with our Microsoft platform. Vertical IT resolved each and every issue that we had… Now, as a result, our ability to manage multiple accounts efficiently has had a huge positive impact with our clients and referring sources which enables our business to grow and to maintain profitability… Since day one, Paul and his staff have exceeded our expectations and have kept our operation technologically relevant, notwithstanding that much of our hardware is dated. They have always anticipated our needs and have kept our operations efficient and functional. I often recommend their services to other law firms and title agencies in the area.”

When Should We Upgrade Our Operating Systems?

The pressure to update both hardware and software comes whenever a new operating system (OS) version is released. According to Spiceworks, 40% of companies planned to roll out Windows 10 within the first year of its release. And an additional 33% expected to do so within two years.

This is especially important when the old operating system will no longer be supported (which is the case with Windows 7 in January 2020). Without support from Microsoft, your computers will be vulnerable to security breaches:

  • Your computers could be infected by malware,
  • Your antivirus won’t be updated,
  • Your online banking transaction protection may expire, and
  • Your financial data could be exposed to theft. 

The general rule of thumb is that you should operate an OS version no older than two versions prior to the latest update. Right now, the latest Windows OS is 10, so if you’re running Windows 7, it’s time to upgrade.  For Macintosh users, the latest version is Mac OS Mojave. Before this it was High Sierra and Sierra.  So, if you are running Sierra, it’s time to think about upgrading.

When Should We Upgrade Our Productivity Software?

The most significant warning sign is when your IT operations are becoming increasingly inefficient, time-consuming and costly. Your software operations should be seamless.  When you start to notice changes in performance, it’s probably time to upgrade.

The software that you use each day for things like creating documents, spreadsheets and presentations (such as Microsoft Office) can generally go longer without updates than your legal practice management solution.  Updates to these typically contain new features and functionality without significant changes.

However, you must ensure that the version you’re using will integrate properly with your operating system. The new OS versions typically limit the versions of software that can be used. So, it’s a good idea to use versions that are no older than the previous three (Office 2019, 2016, 2013).   

The really good news is that with today’s cloud solutions you don’t need to worry about manually upgrading. With solutions like Microsoft Office 365, your monthly subscription covers all of your upgrades and they’ll be handled automatically.  Our advice is to stay up-to-date by moving to the Cloud

When Is It Necessary To Upgrade Business Management Software?

Unlike productivity software, it’s vital that you keep your legal practice management programs up-to-date.  These are software solutions Clio, PCLaw and Lexis Advance.  They will typically have regular updates every 1-2 years. It’s essential that you upgrade these when they’re released. However, to ensure that you are always using the most up-to-date version you should run their cloud software or SaaS (Software-as-a-Service) versions. This way you won’t have to worry about manually updating them as this will be managed automatically by the software company.  

Do We Need To Upgrade Our Security Software?

All of your paid security should automatically update. But keep in mind this will only occur if you are still paying for the subscription. Unfortunately, some lawyers get so busy that they forget to do this. When they do, infections and breaches occur. Be sure that your IT system is protected from the latest malware, spam, spyware, and security threats. And, keep in mind that security software alone isn’t enough today to combat today’s sophisticated cyber threats.  This is where your IT provider is your best resource. They can design and implement a customized protection program for your law firm.  

What Happens If We Use Outdated IT Solutions?

If you continue to run extremely outdated software, you’ll probably know this as you and your staff will experience major operating issues. You could also expose your legal practice to security issues where your clients’ confidential data could be exposed and stolen.  This just isn’t worth the money you’d save not updating. You’ll be risking your good reputation and the existence of your law firm if you continue to us outdated IT solutions.

When Should We Replace Our PCs?

If your computers (including your laptops) are experiencing any of the following issues, it may be time to replace them:

  • They run slowly.
  • They make strange noises.
  • You keep getting error messages.
  • They won’t run the latest software.
  • They are very old (still running Windows 95, 98 or ME) or are more than 4 years old.
  • They cost you more to fix than purchasing new computers.
  • You’ve run out of storage space for programs, documents and more.

Your computers are integral to your law practice. Downtime could mean lost business and revenue, so don’t wait to replace!

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