Technology is a business enabler. Probably the most important technology as a business enabler in a law firm are lawyer laptops. Lawyers live or die off their laptops. According to the ILTA 2021 Tech Survey, laptops were one of the top answers out of all the technologies companies have delivered in the last two years, generating the most positive response from lawyers.
It should come as no surprise, then, that the percentage of lawyers using laptops as desktops is high – at a median of 95%. Laptops are dominating the neighborhood – so much so that the technology provided by the company is seen as one of the key assets in attracting new hires.
But laptop sourcing is not “one and done”: supply chain issues exist, technology becomes obsolete, new versions are released, firm cycles cash flow, partnerships grow, retire, attorney preferences change, new employees want new and different devices while the competition for talent becomes the hottest ever.
Because of this complexity, without the right strategy, firms are vulnerable to negative consequences: overpayment, holding onto technology beyond its useful life, failing to keep their attorneys productive and happy with the tools of their craft. It’s time to think about how a smart financial strategy can optimize the technology of companies.
The power of productivity and the billable hour
First, let’s get one thing straight: lawyers want cutting-edge technology so they can increase productivity and optimize billable hours. Each efficiency gain gives attorneys the opportunity to focus on high-value activities and increase billable work, period. Lawyers are not slowed down by inefficient technology that is supposed to enable their productivity.
During their onboarding, new hires and lateral partners want to know that their technology, and especially their laptops, is a seamless extension of their ambition and motivation, and not an impediment to meeting their clients’ goals and fixed billable requirements.
At the same time, the partners want to keep costs low and PPP high. This is a challenge when overhead costs increase – including spending on technology. In fact, tech spending is one of the biggest year-over-year increases in spending over the past two years, according to Thomson Reuters’ Law Firm Financial Index.
So let’s dive into this smart financial strategy that helps companies ensure they aren’t overpaying for their technology.
Strategy that makes it work: Lease laptops to optimize technology and reduce costs
Leasing is a smart financial strategy that helps the company align finances with technology needs and business goals. Leasing allows companies to downsize their technology by leveraging aggressive residuals that allow them to pay less. This alone is a tangible and powerful benefit.
However, leasing also helps companies optimize their technology through a range of soft financial benefits that are particularly well-suited to law firm operations. For example, paying cash to equip a firm’s attorneys with the necessary technology makes a big hit for PPP in that particular year and may unfairly affect some partners who may be retiring or who have just become partners.
If the company rents the laptops, the company only pays part of the total cost over the term. In these scenarios, Leasing can offer customized agreements tailored to partners’ distribution preferences to accommodate retirees or newcomers or other circumstances.
Most importantly, laptop leasing comes with an upgrade cycle that ensures your attorneys are equipped with the most up-to-date equipment to ensure your attorneys are productive, efficient and secure while accommodating device and platform preferences. With a refresh cycle, companies don’t encourage bad behavior like sticking with technology beyond its useful life – which brings us to the next important point of today’s technology: security.
The rise of cybercrime and obsolete equipment
CIOs and CISOs also want their firm’s attorneys to be equipped with the latest laptops – this time for security reasons. We all now know that law firms are prime targets for the theft of sensitive client information, but with more attorneys working remotely, law firms are more vulnerable than ever. In 2021, the threat volume from malicious attacks increased by 64% and the average cost of a data breach increased by a full 10%.
Technology is designed to become obsolete – three years is the approximate productive lifespan of a laptop. (Look up Moore’s Law by Intel founder Gordon Moore). Running new software on older hardware often doesn’t work because the software outperforms the hardware and causes bugs or doesn’t run at all – including cybersecurity software and Microsoft. Legacy devices leave businesses vulnerable in an increasingly challenging cyber landscape.
For business reasons, lawyers are not allowed to operate outdated laptops that may not run cybersecurity software properly.
Leasing companies’ fleet of laptops help businesses double down on security by ensuring the business is freed from obsolete equipment, while adding a layer of extra security and accountability through asset management. With asset management enabled by leasing, businesses know where their laptops are at all times, even remote devices, loner laptops and more. In a hybrid world, security starts with knowing the location and disposition of your assets – and wealth management does just that.
Law firms must face a future of increasing digitization where technology becomes increasingly important, and that starts with laptops. Leasing intelligently helps businesses reduce the cost of acquiring laptops while providing a number of strategic benefits that impact the entire organization, from attorneys to partners to CISOs and COOS. It’s just a smart financial strategy that pays dividends across the organization.
Mike Henderson is the Lead Client Impact Executive at CoreTech. He brings over two decades of capital knowledge and dedicated experience in the high-tech corporate leasing industry.
Whitney Jones (Morris) is a Client Impact Executive at CoreTech. She has nearly a decade of experience and a proven passion for technology and device finance in the legal industry.
Bill Pitcairn is the Client Impact Executive at CoreTech. He has an outstanding track record in the finance industry, leading all facets of sales functions with a focus on strategic planning and revenue growth.