Video conferencing has been used by law firms for many years, but only until recently has it become affordable for even the smallest of firms. Equipment that cost tens of thousands of dollars only a few years ago, can be purchased for a fraction of that cost today. The products have become more reliable, easier to use, more compact, even portable, and their capabilities and features have been enhanced drastically. Popular thinking seems to indicate that now is the time to get your firm started with video conferencing, but not surprisingly, many firms encounter unnecessary technical obstacles and set backs due to poor planning. The following are important points you should keep in mind before getting started with video conferencing:
How you will use the technology
For many law firms, video conferencing is first used as a way to reduce traveling for internal meetings between practices located in different cities. But there are other factors to consider. How far are the courthouses your firm serves? Do they allow video depositions or other video-based communication for legal procedures? If the addition of video conferencing will save many, or all, of your attorneys significant amounts of time in commuting and improve the productivity of their work day, then video conferencing will definitely help to grow your practice.
The resources you’ll needed
IP (Internet Protocol) networks are superior to ISDN (Integrated Services Digital Network). If you have 384 kilobytes of bandwidth available to and from each video conferencing device, you should be able to enjoy a good quality video call. Realize however, that if your network is shared with other resources, it may compromise the quality of your conferences. A dedicated network specifically for video conferencing, or a managed IP video network like IVCi’s IntelliNet, would ensure the best user experience.
Once you define your network, you need someone to manage it. Although your firm’s technical staff may be able to manage your conferencing network, there are more efficient ways to ensure steady and healthy performance of your video conferences. Some conferencing providers perform ‘managed services’ that take all of the work out of your hands. Do a search in Google for “managed conferencing services” and you’ll find a list of companies that will allow you to reap all of the benefits of video conferencing while eliminating your need to purchase expensive network equipment and hire additional support staff.
The following are steps you can take to be ready for your video conferencing implementation:
Talk with your attorneys and identify those individuals who are ready to reap immediate benefits from the technology; those who would be ready and willing to start using video conferencing right away.
Once you define the extent of usage, you can calculate the amount of time that your attorneys will be freed up to work on other cases. In many instances, the time saved adds up to dozens of hours per month, per attorney. With more time available, they can work on additional cases, thus growing the practice.
Video conferencing is best executed in phases. Features that satisfy the most important needs of the practice should be implemented in the first phase. Define what you need, find out what it costs and budget for that phase. As need and demand grow, you can budget for future implementations as they arise. Always work with conferencing providers that create scalable solutions.
Do some simple math. Once you define how much usage your firm will have, you can compare that figure to your budget. It’s as easy as that.
For many years, Harold German has been recognized as a knowledgeable source for information on corporate branding methodologies. A director at IVCi, LLC, whose divisions include IVCi Audio Visual and HomeVision, Mr. German is a renowned author and contributor, with appearances in noted international publications such as The Economist, and on news stations such as CNN. Mr. German covers IP networks and the future of conferencing technologies.