Like most IT professionals, Mike Studeny’s job can be described as putting out fires. What form those fires take, though, is different every day.
Studeny is the information services user support specialist for the Denver office of BakerHostetler. In plain terms, he’s a technologist who assists the firm’s local lawyers with just about any technology need they have and also assists the larger firm in implementation of large-scale solutions. He helped tackle tech problems when the firm moved its Denver office to its current location and used that expertise to help relocate or remodel other offices as well.
Studeny said his job evolves as technology does. “There have been different times where the job title was a little bit more specific, but anymore, I just say I’m more a ‘technologist,’” he said. “It’s anything from someone bringing in a new phone or laptop to connect remotely to any of our systems up through in-person desk-side support, whether it’s hardware-based or a question on software. … If there was one little label I could put on a job, I’d probably be bored at that point.”
Studeny has been working at BakerHostetler for seven years, but his career has involved working in tech since high school. He previously consulted for municipalities and police departments in the Denver metro area. And even though he has a range of experiences, he said lawyers work completely differently from workers in other sectors. The technology might not be different, but he said the pace and urgency of the work is different and provided its own learning curve when he first joined the law firm.
“You have to be on top of the game. No one’s going to wait around for you to say, ‘Well, let me Google this for you,’” he said. “There are some pretty pertinent deals going down … you’ve got a judge, you got other people, there are so many people in there intertwined with the law field. You just want to make sure that our part is nice, creased and ready and ready to go.”
He said he saw the difference in pace early on, and adjusted to it, but his efforts often involve first slowing down to understand and address a problem before catching back up to that quick pace. He formerly did consulting under the name Zen IT, and even though he’s now full-time at BakerHostetler, he still takes its tagline to heart: Breathe, and IT will be O.K.
“I think that’s part of what’s in my toolbox, is to kind of try to just cut off the pace for just a second, figure out what we want to do, and then put something in plan to catch back up to that pace,” Studeny said.
As a law firm technologist, Studeny sees the interest in law firms to adopt technology tools to stay competitive. He said a core part of his job is working with the firm across offices to test new technology before it gets deployed. In the past few years, the firm rolled out a cloud-based file management system. That demonstrated one of the other challenges of working in a law firm environment.
Because attorneys handle sensitive data for clients across a range of industries, they must also comply with regulations across industries. That might be HIPAA for health care clients or industry standard consumer protection standards for corporate clients.
“There’s a hand-in-hand of trying to make sure that the innovations are blending into the workflow,” Studeny said. “We’re not going to be able to have different levels of security through the different practices, so for the one solution for all of our clients, it’s pretty, pretty tight.”
Security is just one aspect of the physical buildout of an office as well. Studeny worked with the firm in solving all of the hardware issues that were involved in setting up its new office.
Opening a new office involves more than just making sure everyone has a phone line and internet access. Studeny said he worked with the office manager and project management in Cleveland but for the office’s tech, he was the “boots on the ground” support.
That involved things ranging from making sure offices have the right number of outlets and ports, working with others for wiring for A/V for conference rooms and even figuring out how the doors will lock for the right level of security and access. He referred to the interconnectedness of project details — such as having woodworkers come to remove ceiling panels to give access to workers to wire a conference room for internet access — as “buckshot.”
The office did, obviously, come together, and Studeny’s experience through the Denver office’s relocation paid off for the firm: He has since been the “boots on the ground” again for the firm’s Houston and L.A. offices as well.
Despite the range of tasks his work might include, he credited the firm’s large network of support staff across its offices to solve problems.
He might see a new problem every day, but that’s what keeps the job fresh, he said. And the firmwide administrative and engineering teams or similar IT staff in other offices might have the answer to the puzzle he’s solving.
— Tony Flesor