Before you read any further, sit back and remember what it was like to manage a law firm 20 years ago. Documents were mostly paper-based, meetings were scheduled via phone calls, and billable hours were tracked manually. Today, everything is different.
Most of what makes a firm successful now relies on some form of information technology. Client paperwork usually takes a digital form, appointments are arranged via email, and billing is handled by some type of software solution. New technologies have solved countless pain points for those in the legal industry, but taking advantage of them requires a set of skills that most lawyers aren’t familiar with.
That’s why legal practice management solutions like PCLaw have become so popular. Over the years, PCLaw has outgrown its focus on accounting to become a more comprehensive software solution for growing, retaining, and managing clients in all stages of your process.
How has PCLaw evolved?
A few years ago, PCLaw relied on something called C-Tree to store and manage a firm’s data. C-Tree got the job done, but it couldn’t match the security and reliability offered by database frameworks from larger vendors. To overcome these limitations, LexisNexis moved PCLaw to Microsoft’s SQL Server.
The details of that transition aren’t necessary for non-IT personnel to understand, but the benefits are a different story. SQL Server enjoys full-fledged support from one of the largest software developers in the world (Microsoft), which has made it possible for LexisNexis to add features to PCLaw such as case management, dynamic analytics, and improved data security. That’s all well and good, but it does mean you need to have Microsoft’s SQL Server to enjoy these benefits.
What does moving to SQL mean for you?
Unfortunately, SQL Server is capable of so much that Microsoft recommends running it on a standalone server. But we can assure you that’s not as bad as it sounds. For starters, by dedicating an entire server (or virtual server) to handling PCLaw queries, billing tasks, contact management, practice analytics, and other functions will run swiftly and smoothly and support more lawyers or support staff are working with the program at one time. That wasn’t the case when everything ran on C-Tree.
Another thing the previous database framework lacked was adequate support from the IT community. Whoever is managing your SQL Server can get help directly from Microsoft or one of the countless third-party technicians who is certified in this specific platform. If you decide to hire a managed IT services provider (MSP) or outsourced technician to support your PCLaw solution, you have two options: running it from an on-site solution or hosting it in the cloud.
PCLaw on-site vs. hosted in the cloud
If you prefer an on-site server for handling PCLaw queries, you’ll need server hardware with enough storage space and processing power to get the job done. After configuring the server and installing the program, a technician or MSP will need to support it.
Cloud functionality isn’t baked directly into PCLaw functionality, but being based on SQL software means that a qualified MSP can host it in the cloud to improve reliability and simplify support. You’d pay a flat monthly fee to host PCLaw on an MSP’s cloud server, which would be accessible via the internet and be supported around the clock. Going this route means you avoid paying for new hardware and future server upgrades. Cloud environments are typically built with a lot more redundancy and higher class of equipment than on-premise server equipment, resulting in higher uptime and performance.
How to host almost any software in the cloud
Virtual desktops let you remotely connect to apps and programs that weren’t built specifically for cloud connections. Essentially, an MSP sets up a virtual Windows desktop in its cloud just for you, complete with whatever software your practice needs, and makes it available over the internet. You click on an icon on your office computer or personal laptop and are presented with this virtual desktop complete with all of your business applications and data.
Interested? You can learn more about Vertex’s managed cloud services by downloading our free eBook today! Alternatively, you can speak with someone on our team by calling 416-860-7555 or emailing our CEO at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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