How law firms “do more with less” with unified communications

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

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The legal sector continues to face an increasing number of challenges to its traditional operating practices. The introduction of Alternative Business Structures has had far-reaching consequences, creating increased competition from non-legal entities. Faced with a wider choice of service providers, clients are making choices based on brand preference, with a number of household names taking business away from recognised legal practices.

In turn, this has exerted significant pressure on fees and the demand for fixed fee services has increased considerably. Ultimately this has led to an increasing number of practices offering heavily discounted rates, with the negative effect on fee income all too apparent.

If that wasn’t enough, the pressure on IT departments in the form of shrinking budgets and increasing user demands - a hangover from the 2008 financial crisis - add to this potentially toxic mix. Add in changing working practices and the introduction of virtual teams, “doing more for less” is an all too familiar mantra, forcing firms to seek out innovative ways to work smarter and more cost-effectively. What is clear is that legal firms must adapt their working practices, systems and processes to meet evolving market forces, as identified in our recent white paper.

Three law firms that have taken this to heart and are already reaping the benefits are Wright Hassall, Stephens Scown and Ison Harrison, all of whom have deployed a ShoreTel Unified Communications (UC) solution, as part of their overall strategy to introduce greater efficiencies and enhanced communications. Amongst other advantages, Wright Hassall has already benefited from a 12% reduction in telecoms costs and Stephens Scowns has increased mobility allowing the firm to provide a better service to its customers.

Ison Harrison wanted to consolidate a number of legacy telephone systems inherited from acquisition, into a single, manageable platform. By implementing ShoreTel, the firm has resolved system management issues, simplified communications and reduced their total cost of ownership. The new system lets IT staff handle moves and changes (MACs) with ease, giving them the ability to be responsive in adding new users to the system as the firm continues to grow.

As Michael Peel, Practice Director at Ison Harrison comments, “ShoreTel’s products are easy to use and have proved popular with staff and our IT support team. If it’s going to help speed up what staff can do and enable them to deliver services to clients in a more cost-effective, responsive way than they currently do, then they’ll go for it, now they’ve seen the possibilities.”

For those who remain ambivalent about whether UC is the right way to go, there are a plethora of other benefits. Let’s look at the financial considerations first. Switching to ShoreTel tends to cost less than keeping an existing system, and many customers find that it pays for itself within a year. (Read the free Nemertes white paper on total cost of ownership.) ShoreTel’s platform is flexible and offers modular scalability to grow with your organisation. It is also very reliable, delivering enhanced disaster recovery via a distributed platform layered on the IP network with no single point of failure resulting in 99.99999% availability for enterprise-class performance.

With ShoreTel’s focus on simplicity, ease of use guarantees faster end-user adoption and buy-in. Based on open standards, ShoreTel integrates with a wide range of back-office systems, including ERP, CRM and case management applications for a 360-degree view of the customer.

The increasing mobility of staff combined with the rapid adoption of BYOD can help firms to work smarter while lowering overheads. ShoreTel extends the phone system to include mobile devices, driving up productivity by enabling staff to stay connected from any location around the world on any network—voice over Wi-Fi, voice over 3G/4G, or cellular.

With ShoreTel’s UC platform, law firms can take advantage of a future-proofed, feature-rich communications environment that enhances staff productivity and collaboration, but you can also expect to achieve the holy grail of IT of “doing more with less” – at least, where business telephony is concerned.

Read the Ison Harrison Success Story and find out more about our solutions for law firms.

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