Ask an attorney about their most critical communication tools and they’ll mention email and their cell phone. Throw in a document management system and many firms’ core technologies look quite similar.
What’s a firm to do to get a competitive edge? Many look to optimize their attorney productivity, billable hours, geographic expansion, and client relations by using Microsoft Office 365 and Skype for Business and now Microsoft Teams.
With Unified Communications, attorneys spend less time leaving and checking voicemail and less time chasing down internal expertise, especially between offices. “Physical distance has been overcome,” said Jen Rous, CIO at Whiteford Taylor Preston. We still use email but are moving lots of conversations into IM chats.” At Epstein Becker Green, “We see attorneys using multiple Multiparty IMs while on calls” for behind-the-scenes strategy said Prem Rajendran. “When traveling between offices, presence is important because assistants can see a partner is available and they can transfer calls” instead of having calls roll to voicemail.
With less time chasing internal resources, attorneys can spend more time acquiring and billing clients. Attorneys can collaborate from their iPhones, iPads and Android devices. “Our attorneys can access Skype for Business with direct access,” said Rous. “No VPN is necessary, it just works.” Lync/Skype can integrate into Thompson Elite and others for time tracking purposes. “We’re a Microsoft shop, so we integrated presence in our portals and applications as well,” said Rajendran.
Offices (brick and mortar or virtual) can be spun up quickly, getting revenue. “Our executive board meetings include a remote partner who can join via Lync from their summer home and conference with other members in a board room on a Polycom room system.”
Customer satisfaction can increase because they get answers, and results, more quickly. “When an attorney is on a call with a client, they can check and see the presence of colleagues who’ve worked with that client before,” said Rajendran. “They can then add them into the call to help.”
Culture and Organizational Change Management: While the benefits of such new tools can be impressive, users must be equipped and motivated to use them. Epstein Becker Green’s approach was to initially offer the tools as an option, to improve upon (not replace) the current communication system. “Users have embraced presence and click-to-call whole-heartedly,” said Prem Rajendran, “because we offered it as an optional feature set and didn’t force them to change.” Through Enabling’s 1500+ UC projects, we’ve been sure to focus on people and process, not just technology.
“I didn’t want to be in the Telecommunications business and I certainly did not want to move back to a PBX. We wouldn’t have the flexibility that we have now with Skype for Business.”
Veronica Morton CIO at Beckett and Lee
One of the ways where we help law firms improve productivity while easing their administrative burden is with Microsoft’s Matter Center for Office 365. It’s an application that Microsoft developed for their own legal department to boost productivity for legal professionals.
It’s unique in that Microsoft is creating the core foundation but then making the code available via GitHub for others in the open source community to improve and customize. The backend is secure, with Office 365 and its security capabilities that are configurable by each firm.
My team at Enabling helps law firms make the most out of the Microsoft cloud without compromising security.
The main business driver for the switch to a new communications system was to replace an aging Avaya PBX.
The costs to manage the old PBX were getting exorbitant. A second challenge was the limited functionality of
their call center, which made changes to call flows difficult. Becket and Lee has many special requirements as a
bankruptcy specialist such as recording all calls into the contact center. So for these reasons they began
looking for a PBX replacement.
In addition, Becket & Lee was paying a lot for faxing. Using individual fax machines around their offices was
inefficient. Being an Exchange/Outlook email shop, Veronica knew she could improve the productivity of the
attorneys with a unified inbox