By knowing which technology will work for you…
Running a business can be costly.
Running a law firm, equally so.
It can also be hard to understand what RAM is, let alone trying to ascertain whether you need a megabyte or a gigabyte to perform the job you want to.
Knowing what technology to invest in, what systems to use becomes a conundrum. Especially when terms seem all so interchangeable.
To add to the confusion, a legal practitioner’s job is multifaceted. You not only need to understand and apply the law, but you also need to ensure that you have the correct tools to enable you to produce the required output.
And that output has now been supercharged – not only do you need to provide the best legal advice, but you also need to do it at turbo speed, whilst ensuring that your work is all correct, your fees are accurately recorded and that your monthly invoices are less than your competitors.
It’s stiff competition out there. And you need to continuously up your game or face having another firm poach your client.
But which way do you turn to first? After all, your legal practice is also a business. And it needs to stay afloat. You need to be running optimally. Part of this is your ability to deliver services that exceed your clients’ expectations. And that – as we have already said – includes having the correct tools. For you. Having the right technology can help you stay ahead and ensure optimal growth of your practice.
We admit that it sounds a little expensive. And the next obvious thought is – where is all this money going to come from? We hear you.
As a legal tech company, we are fully aware of the costs involved in choosing – and then maintaining – computer systems. The thing is, whilst acquiring the tools of your trade (so to speak) will cost money, it should be seen as an investment in the future of your business. Because if you invest in high-quality systems, you can outperform competitors and prove to be absolutely essential to your clients.
But with so many options available on the market today, choosing wisely is key. Equally so, is choosing the right technology partner for you. Like AJS, as an example. Offering advice on the different components to suit your business is something that is usually offered by your tech partner for free. Or it is at least it is with AJS…
First, let’s chat about terminology
When one hears the words “hardware”, “technology”, “software” and “systems” they all kind of sound like the same thing, don’t they?
Which is what and why do you need to know this?
Well, firstly as a legal tech company our aim is to approach technology in a holistic way. After all, you need the one component in order to operate the other component. And both together make the entire system. Everything is linked. And we believe that businesses should approach the investment in their technology in the same way – by seeing that everything is interlinked.
We are kind of getting ahead of ourselves and it does sound a little cryptic, but bear with us.
Let’s get down to business –
What is computer hardware?
According to Arimetrics, hardware is “the physical components of a computer, such as the motherboard, processor, memory, storage drives, and other devices. It is the hardware that hosts and supports software or programs that provide instructions for the computer to complete its tasks. Hardware can also include external input/output devices such as keyboards, mice, monitors, printers, and speakers”.
The key takeaway here is the physical or tangible nature of the computer equipment.
What is computer software?
According to Britannica, computer software is “instructions that tell a computer what to do. Software comprises the entire set of programs, procedures, and routines associated with the operation of a computer system. The term was coined to differentiate these instructions from hardware—i.e., the physical components of a computer system. A set of instructions that directs a computer’s hardware to perform a task is called a program, or software program”.
The key takeaway here is that the software is what makes the hardware work. Software tells the hardware what to do. A great example is thinking of hardware as being the TV and the software as being the programme you are watching.
What is a computer system?
Techopedia defines a computer system as “a basic, complete and functional hardware and software setup with everything needed to implement computing performance”.
The key takeaway here – the system is the combination of hardware and software working together to perform a desired output. Interlinked, intertwined, and working as one interwoven thing.
What then is technology?
This one is kind of tough. Because “tech” encompasses so many things. But the closest definition we could find was from Wikipedia – funnily enough.
“Technology is the application of knowledge for achieving practical goals in a reproducible way.The word technology can also mean the products resulting from such efforts,including both tangible tools such as utensils or machines, and intangible ones such as software”.
So, when we say, “by knowing which technology will work for you”, we mean which hardware, which software, which systems – which tech – will work for you.
Again, everything is interlinked. Each component requiring the other.
The right tools for you
In this article we are going to tackle the hardware components first.
If you aren’t IT inclined, knowing which machines will be the best for you can seem like an impossible quest. How do you even begin? RAM, megabytes, gigabytes, or megabits swirling around in your head, resulting in a sort of Eton Mess effect – everything thrown together to make something that’s kind of appealing.
It looks good…. But will it taste nice?
If we break it down a little, these overwhelming concepts become a little easier to digest. So, grab a spoon and let’s dig in.
First, it’s important to understand what your modus operandi is. That is to say – are you going to be working from a physical office? Are you going to need to be mobile? Or is it perhaps a combination of the two – which is kind of where the world is now – the option to work from a desk (wherever that may be) but also to be able to work from anywhere. No desk in sight.
By simply understanding this practical component of your business – how and where you will be operating – you can start to see a far clearer picture of the physical components you will need going forward.
To do so, Computer Cures suggests you separate the must haves from the nice-to-haves by asking yourself –
Ø “Why are you buying it? How will it facilitate your business’s operations?
Ø Who is going to run and maintain it? Does it require specialist knowledge?
Ø Will it integrate with your current hardware? Will you need to buy additional hardware to take advantage of its full functionalities?”
The answer to the above questions will help you understand what is absolutely necessary to run your practice – after which you can make some informed decisions about the tools you elect to invest in.
Some of these essentials include –
Computers are kind of a no-brainer really.
Regardless of whether you are operating out of your dedicated home-office, your dining room table, or a physical office somewhere in a high rise in the CBD, some form of computer is going to be necessary. Whether it’s a desktop computer, or a laptop (which is the “go-to” option) with the possible addition of a desktop screen, these tools are absolutely essential for your business.
And – like software that is always changing and being upgraded – hardware will also need to be maintained (which is crucial) and you will also need to ensure that you are using the latest version so that you can keep up to date with the latest software. Almost like a quid pro quo. The one working seamlessly with the other.
The pain point here is – to perform at optimal levels, your tools – both hardware and software alike – will need to be at their own respective optimal levels.
If you invest in high quality equipment that has a warranty and you regularly undertake maintenance of your equipment – either through your IT department, outsourced IT services company, technology partner or even by yourself (you can use this HP guide to assist you), you will be setting up your practice for the long-term.
Almost every business in every sector is constantly on-the-go – legal practitioners included. So, having a laptop helps, but having a smartphone or tablet that can do everything from the palm of your hand (especially with AJS Mobile) is where the sweet spot lies.
Not only are mobile devices easy to carry around, but most of them are equipped with useful work applications and specifications that can perform tasks you would usually accomplish using a laptop or desktop computer.
If you consider the versatility a mobile device offers, the cost of one becomes minimal – in the long run. Android (owned by Google) and iPhones (owned by Apple) are the two main devices to choose from. Both of which are compatible with AJS Mobile (here and here).
So, pick your poison.
With the amount of data law firms deal with, a reliable network server solution is necessary. By having a dedicated server, you have the advantages of faster CPU (Central Processing Unit), high-performance memory and increased storage capacity. Dedicated servers also provide comprehensive security and backup options.
Chat to an IT service provider or technology partner who can assist you in selecting, implementing, and managing a comprehensive network solution that’s right for you.
Have you considered the cloud?
Law firms manage large amounts of data, and they need to do so in an organised, efficient, easily accessible (but always protected) manner. In fact, that’s pretty crucial nowadays. Dealing with vast amounts of information, managing many documents, and analysing huge scopes of data requires a mechanism that makes legal operations easier. Not harder.
And this is where cloud computing comes in. While the Cloud sits more in the realm of software and therefore “technology” as a whole, it’s worthwhile discussing it as an alternative to a physical server.
Ø Cloud computing is an umbrella term for anything that delivers hosted services over the internet. This includes infrastructure, storage, and software. So, for example, instead of using an in-house server, you could outsource storage or network functionalities to a third-party server.
Ø A cloud server is a virtual machine that does everything a physical server can do — except it operates in the digital realm.
Cloud storage offers the level of security a law firm needs to ensure that valuable data is not only being stored – but is being stored securely – ensuring that all clients information is protected. Whilst cloud storage can be costly, not having it forces legal practices to keep their data storage in-house, setting up servers that may require an IT department, leading to the inevitable increase in their overhead expenditure.
And that’s not the point here.
With improved security measures, cloud-based storage has become increasingly more attractive to legal professionals allowing them to fully operate remotely (and in the cloud) whilst also providing teams with more opportunities for online collaboration.
All AJS products are cloud-based which means that authorised users can access their system securely from anywhere, on almost any device – including their mobile phone.
To further this point and as set out in News24 –
“Cloud computing is a crucial tool to foster the growth of small to medium enterprises (SMEs), but they often shy away from adopting the tech solution due to the perception that it is only for large corporations. But SMEs adopting cloud computing offers huge benefits for these organisations”.
Cloud computing is not just for the large multi-partner firm. Operating from the Cloud is for any legal practitioner, including the one-person practice operating from their dining room table.
We’ll end this article off with a relevant quote from the article Getting Beyond The Tech in Legal Tech:
“Technology has also accelerated legal delivery’s transformation from a sole-source, clubby, homogenous, tradition bound, pedigree-centric, labor-intensive parochial guild into something entirely different. Practice is shrinking and delivery is expanding—in no small part because technology and business expertise are reshaping the contours of practice and identifying, then implementing, innovative delivery models. These new models operate at the intersection of law, technology, and business; promote efficiency; predict risk; gauge value; reduce cost while mitigating risk; and “right-source” resource to task”.
And that quite honestly sums up the need for the correct technology (which again includes both hardware and software) in your business. Stay ahead by staying informed – and up to date – with the tech you use toensure that you run optimally, efficiently, and securely from wherever you are. And for years to come.
It sounds like an investment to us…
If you have any questions regarding the information we have set out above or if you have any queries relating to legal tech and how you can incorporate it into your practice, get-in-touch and let’s see how we can take your software solution from good to phenomenal.
If you don’t have any software supporting your legal practice yet, it’s not a problem. We are here to help you from scratch too.
AJS – as always – has your back!