The Verdict is in: 3 Collaboration Features Legal Firms Require
When it comes to business, I believe most would agree that time is money. There are few industries, however where this is truer than in the legal sector. The term collaboration is the newest idiom being used to help describe the technical supplement for interpersonal communication. It has been known by other names throughout the years, including video conferencing, web conferencing, telepresence, and many others, but the premise remains: How can I maximize time and effectiveness that cannot be gained from a simple phone call? Since most human communication is non-verbal and physical travel has challenges of its own, collaboration technologies can help bridge the gap between phone and in-person meetings. It is the most augmented human interaction possible with today’s technology. Since the legal industry is largely based on human interaction, it’s not surprising that they have been adopters of this technology for quite some time, but where do you begin to evaluate these technologies and find the best solution for your business?
Navigating Your Options
Your firm has come to the decision that it’s time for an upgrade. You’ve realized that time IS money and begin to strategize ways to bring in more business and billable hours through the use of efficient technologies, but how do you decide which solution to deploy for your firm with no objections? (see what I did there?) Skype for Business, Microsoft Teams, ZOOM, Blue Jeans, Cisco WebEx, and many others have features and functionality that need to be assessed along with the larger question of business case and cost. Having so many options available to you, it’s wise to have a collaboration expert at your side providing you the options to make an informed decision on the overall technology, how it offers investment protection with what has been invested so far, and how easily it scales while allowing flexibility in the ever-evolving collaboration space. To get you started, there are three key features every firm should look for when assessing these technologies.
#1. Ease of Use is Key
Ease of use, when implemented correctly, can yield immediate and positive results. These can best be categorized in the realm of tangible and intangible. Some of the tangible benefits include:
Increased billable hours
Lower meeting costs
Lower travel spending
The intangible benefits are the predecessor to any tangle benefit:
Better firm reputation
Better recruitment efforts
More effective professional development
Better job satisfaction that comes with better life balance
Many firms have addressed the ease-of-use challenge in the past with hiring supplemental on-site staff to facilitate conferencing. It is not uncommon to have assistants schedule the physical room, video call, and send notifications to all participants. It is also not uncommon to have a support staff that is dedicated to launching and monitoring the calls so that attorneys can simply walk into the room and never interact with the room technology. This has been known in this industry as “white glove” service. Although these needs and use cases still have value, they are not as prolific as they were in the past due to better technology being available at the individual desktop. This, with higher internet speeds available from home and even mobile devices, allows attorneys the flexibility to meet with colleagues and clients anywhere they wish. While very helpful for productivity and job satisfaction, this makes the model of the “white glove” service ineffective to support those users outside the physical office. It can no longer be assumed that the most important person in the call is part of a firms-controlled environment.
Whatever technology is deployed, it is imperative that it is reliable. We use cell phones every day and if there is a reliability concern, there is some moderate tolerance to the problem. In the legal industry this same tolerance is not acceptable with video connectivity. In a video discussion, if a connection is inconsistent or unreliable, it can be viewed professionally as a reflection of the legal services provided. There are methods to fix the reliability concern, but they can be only as good as the network they ride on. The question of private vs public vs hybrid is a balancing act to allow the most connectivity options while at the same time weighing the reliability and cost of these options.
#3. Security Measures that Build Trust
Finally, and possibly the biggest challenge for law firms when making the leap to video collaboration is ensuring that they will have a fully-secure system. Client confidentiality is a must, which puts security at the top of this list. Many security options offer encryption with ongoing calls, but how do you allow free-flowing communication while keeping your private network secure? This problem may be addressed in a few ways for both private and public networks. Segmentation may be an answer, but it doesn’t eliminate the fact that the connectivity that is needed for multiple media streams requires firewall port accessibility for these streams.
IMT specializes in providing a consultative, manufacturer-agnostic approach to collaboration. Recently, IMT presented some cutting-edge solutions at the © International Legal Technology Association (ILTA) conference this year, held in National Harbor, MD, in front of thousands of AMLAW attendees. The demonstrations included a stunning 4k LED video wall from Planar, interoperability from a Cisco telepresence system to a Skype for Business room system, and Videxio’s cloud video solution, which offers interoperability of any internet-based service. All of these technologies prevalent in the legal sector, whether it’s cloud video system registration, firewall solutions, audio conferencing, and even streaming. Reach out to us to get more information about our work in the legal sector.