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Inadequate IT protection to severely impact law firms

Proper IT safeguards are no longer a nice-to-have, but an essential part of ensuring the longevity of law firm success.

user iconEmma Musgrave 20 November 2023 SME Law
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Speaking on a recent episode of The Lawyers Weekly Show, CT Group director James Hey shared how the law firm market needs to evolve in how they approach IT in order to safeguard their data.

First and foremost, Mr Hey said it’s vital to have someone dedicated in the firm responsible for engaging an IT consultant on best practice approaches.

“Obviously, there’s going to be different nuances with every IT provider and their processes and deployment within a firm and their processes. I think that forms part of the initial consultation before you onboard,” Mr Hey said.


“… I think if you’ve set out the right framework from the beginning, what you’re going to see is that that will change, and it will be adapted to suit both parties. However, having that agreement before you start is imperative to making sure that relationship lasts long term.”

Some partners might struggle to understand the significance of having proper IT measures in place, something Mr Hey urges firms to rectify as quickly as possible.

“You’ve got some firms that are in a position that, depending on the partnership and the structure, they’re not willing to change or they don’t want change. That side of the argument is that they’re also unaware of what changes need to be implemented,” he said.

“Then you’ve got the other side, which I think from a partnership perspective (and we see this a lot in market, especially when you start talking [about] some of the larger firms that have multiple generations of partnership managing the firm), you’ve got different direction from multiple partners, and those directions can be conflicting. And the discussions internally start becoming more confus[ing] and decision making starts getting harder.

“So [there are] two sides of it. I think from a smaller firm perspective, the reluctance to change is [lack of] awareness, and from a larger firm’s perspective, it’s [the] agreement from the partnership of what that direction is going to be.”

The flow-on impact of not having a clear direction on IT matters has the potential to wreak havoc – with some firms already experiencing this after falling victim to cyber breaches recently.

The flow-on impacts, especially from an IT support perspective, means that if there’s not an agreement, and there’s not, a certain framework set up, you could be finding yourselves in a position that you don’t get the right support, which means billable hours drop. It means your staff are on the phone to IT too often. It means that you’re not able to identify a core problem and resolve it quickly,” Mr Hey said.

“… Everyone’s aware that calling IT and not getting a resolution quickly is frustrating. Not everyone discusses the impact of what that looks like. And I think, when systems go down, it’s one thing being able to respond and have systems up and running and have them up and running quickly is another.

“So I think from that approach, billable hours can be heavily affected from just ongoing every day [IT issues]. It could be a [forgotten] password, it could be the set-up of a printer, set-up of a new staff member – anything like that could impact hours and billable hours.

“Whereas if you talk about a hacking event, you’re going down a very different path, and there [have] been some recent events in the last few months that [have] seen certain firms down for days, and that in and of itself obviously impacts skill level hours. So, it’s really how to mitigate that, but also how to make it more streamlined and ensure that the firm’s focusing on what its core business is, which is practising law.”

NB: This transcript has been edited slightly for publishing purposes. You can listen to the full episode here: