If there’s one thing every law firm needs right now, it’s a robust, scalable IT infrastructure. However, a recent survey by the American Bar Association revealed that almost 44 percent of small law firms fail to budget for IT, despite over 60 percent of respondents acknowledging that IT is a pressing concern.
These statistics suggest that although law firms want to budget for technology, they don’t know-how. With that in mind, here’s why you need a law firm IT budget, and what steps you can take to get it right.
Why your law firm needs an IT budget
A law firm IT budget is critical to your firm’s success. Here’s why.
A recent report showed that nearly 70 percent of law firms who budget for technology and actively embrace IT are seeing higher profits.
With an IT budget, you’ll ensure that you have money available to spend when you need it, whether it’s for staff training or repairs. You can manage and mitigate financial risk, spot problems early, and plan for the year ahead. It’s important to keep in mind that it typically costs between $150-$175 per user.
The most efficient firms know that their lawyers need up-to-date software and hardware to deliver the best client results. With an IT budget, you can upgrade your equipment as and when required.
What happens if you don’t set an IT budget
If you don’t set a law firm IT budget, here are three things that can happen.
When you don’t have an IT budget, you’ll miss out on vital software upgrades, and you might struggle to afford IT repairs when disaster strikes. Downtime leads to wasted resources and productivity.
Downtime doesn’t just cost money – it costs clients. If your communication systems go down frequently, clients lose faith and they’ll go elsewhere.
Crucially, an IT budget lets you invest in your clients and your long-term success.
Yes, your IT budget affects your employees. If your systems are slow or breaking down all the time, employees lose morale and they may even leave your firm.
How to determine the right IT budget for your firm
Determining a law firm IT budget requires careful consideration. Here’s how to get started.
Decide what you need
Decide what your IT goals are and be realistic about how much you can afford to spend on IT. It’s a good idea to make an inventory of your existing infrastructure.
Prioritize your budget
Your clients – and what they need from you – determine your IT budget. Prioritize your budget based on what programs you need and how you’re expected to serve your clients.
Consider your compliance obligations
Every law firm must consider their compliance obligations, which includes data protection and client confidentiality. If your clients operate in heavily regulated industries such as healthcare or finance, your IT budget may be higher as a result.
Seek expert advice
It’s not easy planning an IT budget, and you might be too busy to even think about it. That’s why it’s so important to seek expert help. IT specialists can assess your IT needs and help you decide how to allocate your budget.
IT support when you need it most
With the right IT budget, you can build a more efficient, successful, and ultimately more profitable law firm. For more information on setting a law firm IT budget, and for further compliance advice, contact us today.