By Dean Leung, Chief Information Officer, Holland & Knight LLP

In the legal industry—as with just about any professional services realm—the client comes first. Clients expect ready access and responsiveness. And we want them to be able to quickly find us any and every time so that they’ll continue to reach out to Holland & Knight attorneys as their trusted advisors. At the same time, it’s critical to support our employees in their aim to achieve some degree of work-life balance. We want our people to be able to work when, where, and how they want.

At Holland & Knight, those two factors lie at the heart of our adoption of unified communications technology. Previously, we had a range of communications options in place, but all our separate systems produced a far-from-seamless experience. Attorneys didn’t make full use of the capabilities because they had to jump between tools to make them work. Nothing was integrated.

 

Worldwide Adoption of Microsoft Lync

In the past few months, we’ve completed our deployment of Microsoft Lync Server 2013, and soon Lync will be available to all 2,000 Holland & Knight attorneys and staff. We’re not only pushing Lync to desktops, we’ll make its full mobility and video capabilities accessible from our employees’ choice of approved devices. Ours is not a one-size-fits-all-users kind of environment, nor do we want it to be. Our objective is to support employees’ preferences and provide them the flexibility to adopt the tools and technologies that best fit their personal workflows.

 

Moving to Lync is something of a cultural shift for us, but one that employees can embrace at their discretion. Holland & Knight employees have been using our existing Avaya phone system for 10 years, and we have no intention of moving them into a strict softphone-only environment and away from their phones. Lync has standard-based interoperability for flexible deployment options, so our goal is to give employees the freedom to communicate through whatever methods suit them best—voice, video, instant messaging, and screen sharing—from any supported device. The firm will derive the greatest value if we offer the benefits of unified communications without forcing attorneys and staff to use any one aspect.

 

Choosing the Most Flexible Fit

We did our due diligence and concluded that Lync would give us a cost-effective, integrated toolset with options available to complement each person’s natural work patterns. We’re conducting an internal marketing campaign to address everyone’s needs—from employees who just want a dial tone on a traditional phone all the way up to those who have desktops, notebooks, Surface tablets, and smartphones, and want communications options for all of their devices.

 

At the upcoming Lync conference, I’ll go into more depth about our business case for selecting Lync over Cisco, discussing the importance of its integration with Microsoft Office, the advantages of its end-user experience, the security enhancements that its traditional counterparts lack, and its compelling five-year ROI and licensing model. I’ll also address how using Lync will help us sharpen our law practice while simultaneously making life a little better for employees. For example, our attorneys and staff are particularly excited about Microsoft Lync Mobile, an app that will release them from the limitations of their office phones and desktops. They’ll be able to get away and enjoy their kids’ weekend hockey game, for example, knowing that they can immediately be reached and respond to clients and colleagues through any number of methods—whatever’s most effective.

 

Easier Collaboration among Colleagues

For improving responsiveness, the five-digit internal dialing and voice over IP (VoIP) calling alone make the change worthwhile. VoIP enhances accessibility as it uses our office-wide WiFi coverage to augment areas where traditional cellular coverage is weak or nonexistent. We’re also enabling colleagues to reach each other more quickly through Lync features such as presence and instant messaging. In addition to the speed of collaboration, we’re boosting the ease with which attorneys and staff around the world can work together to resolve client issues. For instance, they’ll be able to escalate a voice call to include video and screen sharing for ad hoc, peer-to-peer collaboration in one step, without having to find an empty videoconference room and deal with Cisco telepresence and other separate components.

 

Connecting with Clients through Skype

The functionality we gain from our Lync adoption will be used not just internally for collaboration among colleagues but externally with the firm’s clients as well. That’s part of the reason we’re looking forward to using Lync Federation with Skype, so that we can securely communicate with people outside our environment. This will be especially welcomed by our Latin American and Middle Eastern offices, which have been pushing to use Skype because it is a regular part of the way clients expect and want to communicate in those regions.

We feel as though there are limitless ways that we can use Lync to our advantage—and to the advantage of our clients. I look forward to sharing more about how Holland & Knight is streamlining collaboration, enhancing communication, and giving our attorneys and staff flexibility that they’ve never had before.