Migrating to the Cloud Helps Boutique Law Firm Compete with the Big Guys

The Woodhouse Law Firm, LLC might be a boutique practice right now, but that doesn’t mean it operates like one. In fact, being able to compete with the big guys is part of the reason Sam Woodhouse decided to step up his firm’s IT game and turn to MIS Solutions for comprehensive IT support.

In looking for an IT provider, Woodhouse knew there were three boxes that needed to be checked: it needed to be dependable, highly qualified and cost-efficient. He knew that having an IT partner that met all three criteria was going to be the key to competing with larger firms in metro Atlanta.

Before stepping out on his own in 2007, Woodhouse was a shareholder and the Managing Partner of the Atlanta office of a full-service global law firm with more than 500 attorneys in 21 offices. Today The Woodhouse Law Firm specializes in helping its clients in business litigation, commercial arbitrations, commercial recovery litigation, contract law, data protection and privacy law and local counsel assistance. It represents several Fortune 500 companies, middle market companies, government entities and high-net-worth individuals.

Having a reliable technology environment, he said, is especially critical for smaller firms to succeed in the highly competitive legal market in Atlanta. So when he started his law practice he relied on his IT provider to configure and install his server and computers. Fast forward to 2014. Seven years after installation, that same server was still in use and not only over-utilized, but it was four years out of date meaning that support had expired in 2010 leaving his network, and ultimately his business, vulnerable to serious issues such as system failure and security breaches.

In addition to the aged equipment, Woodhouse was being nickeled and dimed by his provider. The level of service he was receiving from his IT provider had deteriorated while the costs had skyrocketed – with very little to show for it. There was no offsite backup and remote desk support was not offered which meant every single issue that popped up required a costly onsite call, even if it was something as simple as removing a user from the network. “Back then, I used backup tapes which had to be changed out every day,” said Woodhouse. “Aside from the inconvenience, if I forgot to change the tapes it triggered a ‘system error’ so the IT company had to open a ticket for which I was billed. The costs were astronomical.”

Because of the high, unpredictable expense of having the technician come onsite to try to fix the same problems over and over, Woodhouse was forced to put off requesting IT support until critical issues interfered with his ability to conduct business. Only then would he ask for support to solve the critical issue along with all the other smaller issues that had popped up over time but weren’t urgent. All in all, his firm was running on a reactive – not proactive – network.

Enough is Enough

That reactive approach resulted in Woodhouse getting a bill one month for a mind-boggling $5,600. Apparently, one computer in his office had been infected with a virus. Long story short, after the technician spent an entire day trying to remove the virus to no avail, he took the computer back to his shop and continued to try and debug the machine. So 15 hours of labor translated to $5,600 in charges. “I literally could have bought several new computers for that!” said Woodhouse, adding that the downtime was also costly.

That was when he said, “enough is enough,” and Woodhouse contacted MIS Solutions. Like many Managing Partners, he just wanted his IT systems to work and be secure. He looked to MIS Solutions to not only help him repair his unstable technology environment, but also to advise him on the best solutions to make his firm more productive while saving money and making his monthly IT bills predictable.

A thorough evaluation of the law firm’s network revealed that the previous IT company’s lack of proactive network management had left Woodhouse’s entire system in a critical mess. It appeared that most issues had been held together with Band-Aids and the root causes of their problems were never addressed. The MIS team found a number of issues that were disasters waiting to happen. First and foremost was the age of the server.

A migration to the cloud was recommended which would eliminate the need to purchase a new, expensive server and would also do away with the aggravation of manually backing up the system each day. Woodhouse opted to move his firm’s network to MIS’s private Greenlight Cloud which “works perfectly,” he said. “I no longer need a server and, more importantly, MIS can respond to problems immediately which is critical. I no longer have to wait hours or even days before my issues are fixed.” Remote support of his entire system means all issues, both big and small, are addressed within minutes instead of days, thus lowering his monthly IT bill and allowing him to focus more on his clients – not IT. “Lawyers have so much to deal with on a daily basis, so we don’t want to have to worry about an IT issue. We just need it to work. That’s very important, particularly for fast-paced legal firms.”

Greenlight Cloud Offers Flexibility and Security

MIS’s Greenlight Cloud solution coupled with a new VoIP phone system gave Woodhouse and the other attorneys in his practice the flexibility to work from anywhere, which is a factor in his ability to compete with larger firms. Whether he’s at his firm’s office downtown, at his home office or at the courthouse, Woodhouse is able to access all of his files securely and respond to his clients’ needs in a timely fashion.

MIS’s layered security approach, along with its proactive monitoring and maintenance, puts Woodhouse’s mind at ease knowing that his client’s confidential information is safe. Attorneys these days fall under heavy scrutiny when it comes to protecting client data, he explained. “Lawyers want to know that their system is secure and it’s going to work,” he said. “We want to know that our email is secure and that we have measures in place to protect our clients. So moving to the cloud immediately increased our productivity and greatly reduced the ‘headache factor.’”

There Are No Surprises with Monthly Fixed-Rate Plans

Another feature of MIS Solutions’ services that also helped eliminate a major frustration and uncertainty was its fixed-rate monthly service plans. Knowing exactly what he is being billed each month took the “gotcha” out of IT expenses. “I like that you provide a written quote for any equipment or projects beyond my normal service plan so I know exactly what to expect,” he said, adding that budgeting for IT is much simpler now.

Providing a stable IT environment, bringing predictability to monthly IT expenditures and quickly responding to every issue checked all the boxes for Woodhouse. But what he really appreciates is how “MIS not only meets my IT needs, but they keep in mind my overall business needs” by continually looking for ways to help his business run more efficiently. “You really are a one-stop shop,” he said. “So if anything goes wrong with my internet, my phone system, my IT, I know you guys are there to handle it. And knowing you are IT experts helps me, as a boutique firm, be able to compete with the large firms.”

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