Working with a managed services provider is an excellent way for smaller to midsized law firms to get the full-spectrum IT expertise they need without bringing on IT staff and trying to build an IT department from the ground up.
The role of MSPs is to enable and enhance the work experience of lawyers and other law firm staff via technology so they can provide outstanding service to their clients as easily and consistently as possible. While legal professionals may at times feel alone in the world of technology, they can find productive allies in IT MSPs with deep experience and history in the legal industry.
Partnering with an MSP is not simply outsourcing your information technology services. While the forms of engagement – from short-term, project-based contracts to fully managed IT strategy, service, and support – can vary considerably, partnerships with legal industry-focused MSPs offer legal professionals opportunities to cost-effectively learn, innovate and adapt without taking on the time-consuming and challenging responsibilities involved with maintaining on-staff legal technology expertise.
When your firm is ready to take its IT to the next level with help from an MSP, here are a few tips to get the most out of that new professional relationship.
1. What’s the best way to get the most out of a managed service provider?
The best way to get the most out of your partnership with a managed service provider is to select an MSP with experience in your industry. An MSP that specializes in law firm technology will have deep knowledge of how your firm operates, any local, state and federal regulations you must contend with, and what it takes to successfully run a law firm’s IT department.
Once you identify a potential MSP and are considering engaging them, share a history of your past help-desk tickets and talk through your issues with previous MSPs, if you had them. Share any plans for your near future, such as office lease duration, moves, acquisitions and resource-intensive projects.
2. What makes this approach so effective?
An MSP with previous law firm experience already knows a great deal about what you need to operate efficiently and effectively. By reviewing your history with other services and software, MSPs gain specific knowledge of past pain points or deficiencies that may need immediate or long-term attention.
Further, an MSP with law firm experience will be able to recommend solutions others use that you may not be aware of. For instance, many law firms rely on specific software that allows them to archive email and documents, associate them with specific cases, store them securely to maintain attorney/client privilege, and destroy them after a specific amount of time. Some larger firms need a very robust software solution for this functionality, and some smaller firms want a simpler solution.
3. What’s the most important attribute to look for in an MSP?
Every law firm should look for consistency in its MSP. A stable team of experienced professionals who have been in the industry long-term and are familiar with law firms can apply their previous knowledge to your business challenges, more deeply understand the particular needs of your firm, and be there for you on a moment’s notice if problems arise.
Once you’ve identified your final candidates, ask for references from other law firms. Make sure their expectations are being met.
4. What makes this attribute so important?
Your company should not be the guinea pig for an MSP that is trying to break into the legal market. An MSP who lacks specific industry knowledge will likely fall well-short of your expectations.
We have found that a consistent, stable, and long-term team is more engaged with our MSP clients and more committed to them. They get to know clients personally and professionally and know the industry, the technology, and how to provide exceptional client service.
5. What’s the best way to negotiate a contract?
There are two important things to remember when negotiating contracts with MSPs.
First, there’s always room for negotiation on implementation. Remember that the MSP wants your recurring business and revenue.
Second, make sure there is language in the contract about meeting annually to evaluate the partnership’s success and discuss adjustments in costs, fees, and services when necessary. A good experience requires some give and take on both sides of the partnership.