The End of the Year is Coming – What Equipment Should I Buy?

Now is the time of year when your firm can evaluate their equipment and make purchases that will benefit your firm into the New Year. What will give you the most bang for your buck? Here are some suggestions:

  1. Multiple Monitors – What is better than one monitor? Two monitors! Studies have proven that productivity increases 33% with an addition of a second monitor. Invest in multiple monitors for both staff and attorneys and see your productivity skyrocket. Don’t go overboard with three or more monitors, those same studies show a productivity decrease after two.
  2. Upgrade Cell Phones and Tablets – Purchase a new 4G phone or tablet to replace older equipment. The faster internet speed alone makes it worth the upgrade; not to mention the other bells and whistles like great cameras and finger print readers.
  3. Replace Windows XP computers – A deadline is approaching for firms that are still using Windows XP. On April 8, 2014, Microsoft will end support for Windows XP making it a prime target for hackers. By replacing your computers before the end of the year, your firm will be ready well before April.
  4. Replace older servers – The same deadline for Windows XP machines above impacts Windows 2003 Small Business Servers (SBS). If your firm has an older server, replace it now before the hackers attack.
  5. Improve Equipment for Trial – If your firm uses equipment for trials and mediations, consider upgrading your equipment. Replace older projectors with flat screen TVs, mobile stands, tablets, wireless routers and Apple TVs to hook everything together. Don’t forget the software including presentation software like Trial Director or TrialPad for the iPad.
  6. Software upgrades – Now is the time to consider upgrading if your firm purchases software. The trend is toward software subscriptions, but software purchases still might be right for your firm. Don’t forget to consider software for backups and virus protection when you are deciding what to buy.
  7. Replace/Upgrade printers -If your printer has been giving you fits during the year, consider replacing it with a new higher end printer or multi-functional. The kicker for printers is always the toner cost, so research before you buy. Newer models will be more efficient with toner and if you can buy more than one of the same printer, you can avoid having to maintain different toner cartridges. Do you need color? Maybe, but remember it is significantly more expensive than black and white.
  8. Purchase a new phone system – It may be a little late in the year to begin the process for purchasing a phone system, but it is certainly a good investment. If your phone system is older and you cannot afford to spend $10,000 on a server-based VOIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol) system, a hosted VOIP system could be implemented and the phone hardware purchased before the end of the year.
  9. Replacing aging infrastructure equipment – If your hardware inventory shows that your infrastructure equipment (including switches, routers (wireless too), firewalls and UPSs) is aging, consider replacing some or all of the equipment for better, stronger, faster equipment – Anyone get that $6 Million Dollar Man reference? Just checking.
  10. Pre-Paid training blocks – Many off-site training facilities sell pre-paid training blocks that are good for a year. If your firm has training on their schedule for 2014 (and they should) buy the training block at a discount and benefit in the coming year.
  11. ScanSnap scanners – The new desktop ScanSnap scanners (model iX500) are wireless and still include a license of Adobe Acrobat Standard. If your New Year’s resolution includes a paperless office, buy a Fujisu ScanSnap scanner now and start the process before 2014 rolls around.
  12. New trends in Your Practice Area – Are there any new trends in your practice area that will require specific software and hardware needs in the New Year?  Real Estate attorneys should take note of upcoming regulations from the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau in 2014. Will your practice be impacted? Check out your local practice area listservs to be prepared for what is on the horizon.

Law firms can take advantage of tax benefits by spending money at the end of 2013, and with a little bit of planning, you can be ahead of the curve in the coming year. But, don’t think of it as spending money on equipment, think of it as investing in the future of your firm.

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