legal IT | 30 July, 2019

How an ageing IT platform impacts law firm performance

Since the birth of the digital era, the rapid rate of technological change has laid down a number of significant challenges to the legal industry.

Firstly, there’s the challenge to keep up to date with the legal and legislative changes that come with an ever-evolving technology landscape. Then, there’s the question of how to leverage emerging technologies to offer a better service, and grow the firm as a result.

Fundamentally though, there’s also the challenge of keeping your IT infrastructure up to date, in order to keep your business running in smooth, efficient fashion for both your clients and your staff.

Often, it’s this challenge which slips off the radar, with 69% of IT professionals confessing they find it difficult to balance planning for the future with maintaining day-to-day efficiency.

This distracted focus, often coupled with a lack of resources, means that many law firms persist with outdated IT systems far longer than they should - and it’s only a matter of time before the problems start to stack up. 

Indeed, relying on outdated technology can have serious consequences - and while IT upgrades can be costly, the costs of standing still can be far greater.

In this blog, we’ll identify the pitfalls of persisting with ageing IT platforms, and show how failure to upgrade could be the ultimate false economy.


Counting the cost of system downtime

Such is the importance of today’s IT and business systems, the old phrase ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ may finally have to be retired.

In fact, waiting for your IT systems to crash and fail before taking action is just about the worst approach you can take - leaving you counting the cost of incapacitated staff as well as the bill for remediation.

Those costs quickly mount up, with business research experts, Gartner, once estimating that network downtime can cost big businesses more than £4,000 per minute.

Even prior to outright failure, any systems that are slowing down or creaking under pressure will be eating into your employees’ productivity too. 

These symptoms of an ageing system shouldn’t be overlooked or accepted as the norm, they should be viewed as a catalyst for change - before a more serious and costly system crash.


Security risks that grow by the day

As a general rule, the older your IT infrastructure, the more susceptible you are to online threats. 

Older technology often has vulnerabilities which hackers can find and exploit, raising the possibility of data theft, data loss or enforced system downtime.

These risks increase further every time some of your software reaches ‘end of life’, and the supplier stops releasing update patches that fix bugs and close loopholes.

The infamous ‘WannaCry’ attack, which crippled NHS computer systems is a painful example of how unsupported software can be targeted, with the virus able to spread through an unpatched Microsoft operating system.

But it’s another recent cyber attack that showcases how costly the consequences can be for law firms.

Multinational legal firm DLA Piper was hit by a ransomware attack in 2017, which wiped out systems and left employees unable to access their emails. It cost the firm an incredible 15,000 hours of extra overtime for its IT staff, plus the price of lost business - with DLA even now still trying to recoup losses from their insurer. 

Worryingly, the financial consequences of data loss or theft can be even worse. Since the advent of GDPR, punitive fines for a data breach have increased dramatically - case in point, British Airways.

The airline, who suffered an attack on their website systems and lost hundreds of thousands of passengers’ personal data, were in July 2019 handed a record fine of £183m.


Falling behind the competition

If you’re lucky, your old IT infrastructure may rumble on for years yet, never quite crashing completely, and never attracting the interest of online criminals. 

But what’s almost guaranteed is that your competitors will seize on your complacency - pushing ahead with new technology to increase productivity, streamline services and cut into your market share.

They’ll be using mobile and collaboration technology to work smarter, harnessing data to drive more insightful decision making, or adopting AI to help clients find the answers they need, faster.

Simply put, they’ll be offering a modern, digital experience that your old technology just won’t support, and that’s arguably a greater risk to your business than any downtime or data breach.

Because it’s not just clients that will decide to look elsewhere if their expectations aren’t being met, your most valuable asset (your staff) may also decide enough is enough…


Frustration in the workforce

In an age where the employee experience is recognised as a crucial element of organisational success, you should also consider the effect your outdated technology is having on your staff.

Working day in, day out with technology no longer fit for purpose is highly frustrating for your teams - potentially causing low morale and impacting productivity as users fight with the tech. 

Indeed, a recent survey by Sharp showed that 53% of employees felt they would be more productive if their office had better technology - while one in seven went as far as saying better technology would stop them from looking for other jobs.

It just goes to show the importance of IT to those who use it all day long, and that slow and tired technology results in sluggish, tired staff.



By continuing to rely on ageing IT, law firms are putting their businesses at risk - not just from costly crashes and security flaws, but from a critical failure to meet the needs of digital-savvy clients and staff.

So, while you may not feel you can afford to invest in new technology, the real question is whether you can afford to stand still, while rival firms pass you by.

If you’re seeing the telltale signs of outdated IT, but you don’t have the resource to continually update it, speak to Oosha about managing it for you. We can take away all the hassle of those tough technology decisions, and let you get on with growing your business. 

Posted by Wayne Barber

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