Many small law firms assume they are too small to stay current with technology or that technology is not as important within the legal community. These firms are the very legal groups that are getting killed in open court by law groups that utilize technology to benefit them. A small firm must provide the same evidence and e-discovery that large firms must adhere to. In many cases the small firm simply has no plan when their computers fail and there is data loss. Smaller firms cannot afford a full time IT person to manage their unique infrastructure and end up at the hands of consultants looking to sell products. When these firms do find a consultant that can help them, these consultants may know technology but have no idea what e-discovery, HIPPA or SOX compliance is or how to ensure the law firm is in compliance. One simple way a law firm can ensure compliance is to have off site backups either in the form of a tape or online storage with a datacenter. Law firms can also protect themselves by having a disaster recovery plan in writing. In this manner they can take this document to court and demonstrate they abide by it. Legal firms must also ensure that their clients whom may enjoy electronic forms of communication understand the risk and further understand the law firm’s policies on e-mail retention. By not having a policy in place, law firms run the risk of being sued, audited and even worse.
There are numerous other items that can ensure your law firm remains in compliance that this document cannot address directly. Small firms should also consider their presence on the internet. Many smaller firms do not feel a web presence is required, that word of mouth is enough. I agree that word of mouth is probably the best form of attracting new clients; the real issue is there are many clients that just simply do not know you may exist. The larger firms can afford TV and radio ads and spend aggressive amounts of money on website positioning. The interesting fact is that a small law firm can come in on the web and get noticed far faster than that of a larger firm. This is accomplished by having a concise information ridden web site. Let your future clients know how important they are to you, tell them that as a smaller firm they will be treated as an individual. Offer a blog or simple FAQ’s to your specialty. If you specialty is criminal law, write an article on the steps involved in the process and how you can help that person. These are just baby steps in a greater pool of what your firm can do to leverage technology to bring the clients to you!
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