Second only to you and your brain, your computer is the most important tool in your profession. Depending on your area of expertise, you can spend up to 90% of your time working on it: reading, typing, sending emails and generally managing matters.
Ensuring you have the most appropriately suited equipment is therefore essential. Yet choosing a computer or tablet for your law firm isn’t necessarily as easy as it might seem.
At Boab IT, we are often asked for our advice on the most appropriate computers for the legal sector. Typically, lawyers don’t require overly powerful machines, so it’s usually about finding hardware that gets results, without unnecessary cost overheads.
If you work in the legal sector and are looking to upgrade your computer, here are six important questions to ask yourself:
1. Do you want a Mac or a PC?
This is an important consideration, especially if you’re purchasing a collection of new hardware. Whichever option you choose, it’s wise to be consistent across your firm.
Ensure that the software you are intending on running in your practice is available in the platform you are choosing. Most tools for law firms run better on the Microsoft platform than they do on Mac. Virtualising Windows on your Apple computer doesn’t always provide the same performance or level of integration you may expect.
2. Do you want to work with laptops, tablets or desktops?
This is a very personal choice and has to do with the way you practice. Do you work often from home? Are you often on the go?
Thanks to the cloud, you have more freedom and flexibility than ever before regarding your choice of computer for law firm use.
If you never work from anywhere else rather than your office, a desktop is probably the ideal choice. However, a laptop is a good option if you work from home as they collapse and are easy to transport around the house.
The Microsoft Surface Book, for instance, is a fantastic laptop with a long battery life. You can also order this laptop (for a monthly fee) via the Boab IT Portal.
If you are on your feet a great deal, a tablet may be the best option, as it’s light and as powerful as any desktop. Nothing beats the comfort and practicality of being able to take and access your information in your briefcase and just read it anywhere. The Microsoft Surface Pro 4, for instance, is a robust device with a whole range of exciting features. You can also order this device via the Boab IT Portal.
3. How much budget do you have?
Just as you wouldn’t buy a cheap, uncomfortable pair of shoes that are likely to cause you pain every day, the same rationale should apply to your choice of computer.
A slow computer will end up costing you time and money and may give you endless frustration that will end up affecting your work. Choose equipment that is right for you, without overspending or cutting corners.
4. Custom-made or out of the box?
When it comes to choosing a computer for your legal practice, different law firms have different needs. As well as seeking the advice of friends and family, it’s important to ask your IT consultant which is the best solution for you.
The main point to consider is that generic or ‘white-box’ computers, whilst cheap, usually end up costing more in the long run. They are generally made up of retail parts which are superseded every 6-12 months, and a replacement may not be available in the event they fail. This means you may end up having to replace a lot more than just one failed computer part. All of this equates to downtime when your staff can’t work, and support costs from your IT consultant.
5. What level of support do you require?
While you can approach your technology with an independent spirit, managing all of the research, purchase and installation on your own, the reality is that your clients still need to be serviced.
By investing in a managed cloud solution, you take support out of the equation, as it simply happens automatically. It’s also far more economical to have someone else providing support rather than detracting from your billable hours and customer service. When choosing a support provider, do your research, and appoint one before you necessarily need them, so you don’t have to waste your precious time in the middle of a crisis.
Also, be aware that unless you have signed up for fixed managed services, your provider may charge you a call out fee on top of their minimum charge per visit, not to mention parking and travel time, so you should also consider this when calculating costs.
6. What supplementary gadgets do you need?
If you’re upgrading your computer, it’s worth evaluating your other office equipment and determining if it should be replaced at the same time. You may receive substantial discounts from your supplier if you are purchasing multiple options at once.
Other equipment could include:
- A quality scanner – as a legal firm, you do a greater deal of scanning. Forget about the small home scanner toys you can buy anywhere. You need a powerful and fast device to meet your needs (preferably, make sure it scans both sides of the paper at the same time). Today, quality scanners can send your documents directly into a matter whilst also allocating a cost recovery amount, so take advantage of these features and save even more
- A digital fax – this can be a great way of sending and receiving information rather than renting a phone line. While not technically a device/gadget, it will enable you to send and receive faxes digitally, significantly reducing the amount of paper passing through your office. Ensuring all your documentation is accessible from all your devices helps your people work faster and more effectively. You can also do some clever things with your digital fax, including indexing the text, or even attaching it to a matter based on the caller ID.
- A second computer screen – having two computer screens can result in an instant jump in productivity. It enables you to respond to emails on one screen while dedicating the second to reading documents or reviewing a matter.
Trust Boab IT for your IT support
The Boab IT portal offers you a fast, convenient and easy way to manage your law firm’s IT needs. Talk to us about how you can get started, and how we can help you choose hardware and devices that are right for your business.
Give us a call on 1800 659 765 or visit www.boabit.com.