Michael Glasser Shares How He Has Become The #1 Specialized IT Firm For New York Law Firms By Helping Firms Fortify Their Security, Maximize Their Efficiency And Increase Billable Hours.
Tell me how Glasser Tech came to be the premier IT firm for New York Law Firms?
When I was 18 years old, I took a part-time job after school as a stock clerk in a computer retail store called Programs Unlimited based in New York. My job was to unbox inventory, stack the shelves, clean up and basically do whatever was necessary to keep the store running. If all the sales reps were busy, I would step in to try and help clients as needed.
One day, a client walked in – an attorney – who desperately needed help with a new software program he had bought to keep track of client matters and billable hours. That program was Timeslips. He handed it to me and said, “Can you figure out how this works and then set it up for me?”
I wasn’t a tech, but a young, too-stupid-to-know-I-couldn’t kid who immediately said, “Yes!” to the opportunity. I took the program home that night, loaded it up on a PC and started teaching myself how it works. Back then, the store actually billed my time out at $25 an hour to this poor guy – something that would NEVER fly in today’s IT world. But back then, everything was new and there were very few “experts” in anything computer related. We were all just trying to figure things out.
Fortunately, I was sharp enough to not only figure it out, but truly help him track and get paid for billable hours, giving him more than his money’s worth. Turns out I was so good at making the software work, that I immediately signed up for a class to become certified in how to use Timeslips. That one client was so happy that he referred me to a few of his colleges, also attorneys, so I could do the same for them. The sales reps in the store started directing all legal clients to me – and before I knew it, I was the de facto expert on Timeslips software and everything legal.
After working in the computer industry for several years, I started Glasser Tech – an IT firm that works exclusively with law firms to not only help them with law firm business applications, but also implement IT solutions that enable them to be as productive as possible and as secure as possible.
Today, we serve over 200 law firms in the New York metropolitan area, and we are growing. We are extremely focused on not only protecting our clients from cybercrime, data loss and downtime, but also setting up and supporting time, billing, and practice management applications to maximize our clients profitability.
Why do Law Firms choose Glasser Tech over other IT companies?
The number one reason law firms work with us is because we have a deep understanding of how law firms operate, and we deliver IT solutions that go far beyond simply getting their PCs to “work.” We know how law firms function, how they serve and bill their clients, how they get paid, the problems they run into and the frustrations they face – and we come to the table with actual solutions that solve those problems. No other IT firm in our area has the same level of knowledge, expertise, and experience as we do because most IT firms are generalists, not specialists.
We pay attention to the intricacies of a law firm, such as the software utilization, billing and practice management. Our long, specialized history in the industry has provided us with an education on law firms themselves. We understand the details that keep them afloat. We understand the differences between the business of law versus the practice of law. We understand that when lawyers make a request, they need immediate service.
A seemingly “small” problem — even something as simple as a printing issue — can impact their bottom line in a significant way if not handled immediately, which is why we never put our clients in a queue like other IT firms do, and have a hyper responsive help desk that is always at the ready to resolve problems like these in minutes rather than hours.
I heard you helped a law firm “find” over $1 million in receivables that were hidden; how did you do that?
Because our goal is to make a firm more profitable, we look at more than just if a program is working or if a laptop is functional.
For example, when a client came to us to help resolve a billing issue, we dug a little deeper than the functionality and found over $1 million in receivables that had been purposely hidden in the firm by a disgruntled employee. Additionally, the process for collecting those receipts was hidden by the billing person, who is no longer employed there. This would be a dire situation for any company, but we were able to use our expertise to bring it to light and help the client develop a tangible system of checks and balances that could prevent this from ever happening again. We even recovered some of the money.
We also help clients with documentation and data processing to streamline operational processes to ensure important steps (like billing and collecting money) aren’t overlooked. Naturally, this adds to their bottom line and ensures they get the maximum profit for their hard work.
What IT-related changes and opportunities do law firms face in the coming years?
The biggest opportunity we see for law firms is to move to secure, cloud-based solutions that provide enormous flexibility in allowing them to work from anywhere whether it be from their home, the court room, while commuting. Let’s face it – attorneys work around the clock to meet deadlines and need to be as productive as possible to maximize their earnings. That’s what modern cloud-based solutions can provide: productivity, speed of communication, automation and reporting.
Right now, we’re seeing incredible breakthroughs in applications and technology that can truly transform the productivity and profitability of a practice; but most don’t even know about what’s possible because their current IT person or company is only focused on keeping their computers, e-mail and servers working, and nobody is talking to them about how to use technology to facilitate business goals. That’s why so many law firms use our services. We’re not just going to sell you a bunch of PCs, servers, software and “stuff” and set it up. We look at how your law practice operates – how you work, how you communicate, how you collaborate, how you bill and serve your clients – and then bring IT solutions that help you work more productively.
Why is cybersecurity such a pressing concern for law firms, and does it seem to be growing?
This is another technological challenge we often face. Protecting data is something I call CODB: Cost Of Doing Business. As a law firm, protecting data is non-negotiable — you absolutely must have systems in place to protect your data and your client’s data. Cybersecurity is an especially concerning topic when a law firm fails to fully understand its importance. In addition, as increased risks continue to rise, there will be more state and federal regulations to comply with.
Years ago, hackers were literally just kids on computers, and there was no organization to it. That isn’t the case anymore. Cybercrime is a criminal organization led by masterminds, and I would venture to say it is a multibillion-dollar industry. That leads us to ask, “Who is the big target?” The obvious answer is principalities and big companies, but businesses of all sizes are also targets, due to the treasure trove of data they possess.
Law firms have tremendous stores of client information, including full names, social security numbers, and financial information. Hackers want to access that data, regardless of the purpose. They may sell it on the dark web, hold it for ransom, or steal credentials or money for themselves. A hacker can even access a law firm’s email system and start requesting money transfers through different transactions.
These unscrupulous techniques aren’t going away. Hackers are going to be continually attacking law firms, the “honeypots” of data. That is why we must be diligent in installing and monitoring protection against these criminals.
We should also be aware of the policies, procedures, and new laws that are constantly being updated and pushed in relation to technology. The NY SHIELD Act is already impacting law firms significantly in what they must do for protection. This act requires all firms to have protections in place or the attorney general of the state of New York will come down on them with fines up to $250,000.
Our goal is to take the steps necessary to ensure our clients are aware of these new regulations and help them comply. We recognize that attorneys must understand that they aren’t just practicing law anymore. They need to have a technological understanding of their firm’s protections and risks.
As a result, it comes down to us to educate lawyers on the policies and procedures they need to have in place, and the CODB for lawyers.
IT and technology are constantly changing. How does your team stay abreast of the changing technology landscape and new threats?
We are continuously learning, testing and researching new technologies. Our team is required to invest at least 15 hours a month into continuing education. We even have quarterly goals for our techs to learn new technologies, and correlate them to improved business processes, security and profitability for our clients. Everyone on our team is involved in that process, and it keeps us fresh and engaged in improvements, thus allowing us to better serve our clients.
Technology is so rapidly evolving that without routine education you become stale. We see that often when we interview new candidates for employment. We’re picky because many people just don’t have that motivation to learn. We want people who are eager to learn.
I’m also part of a peer group where I have weekly and quarterly meetings with like-minded IT experts around the country. This group allows me to stay abreast of technology changes, and I’m then knowledgeable when seeking out ways to improve our business and security posture. Our goal is to be constantly improving and evolving so that we can help our clients do the same.
What continues to drive you and your success after so many years in IT?
I truly love what I do, and I have a driven passion and determination to bring the utmost value to our clients through the services we offer. That drive pushes me forward every day and it inspired one of our core values—“We Help.” It’s simple, yet profound, and it is the heart of who we are as a company. Everything we do is about helping our clients succeed and helping each other succeed. “We help” means that we look beyond technical issues to see the big picture of how one computer, one employee can impact the success and profitability of a law firm. Glasser Tech is more than an IT firm. We see our relationship with clients as an innovative partnership, and we are here to help law firms succeed.