It was also time to refresh the desktop phones, some of which were 15 years old. And Superstorm Sandy, which struck the East Coast of the U.S. late in 2012, had caused a three-day outage in the primary rate interface (PRI) service through which Holland & Knight's carrier provided telephone services to its New York City offices. Because of the age of the private branch exchange (PBX), Holland & Knight needed the carrier to restore PRI on its end — essentially the flick of a switch — but the carrier had so many customers in a similar situation that it took three days before restoration of the firm's service came up in the queue.
"All of our phone numbers for our New York office were just busy or ringing to dead air," says Dean Leung, CIO for the law firm. "From outside, it appeared we were down."
Leung and his team felt it was time for a forklift upgrade of its PBX systems to ensure such a thing wouldn't happen again. But Leung needed to make sure the firm chose the right path for its communications infrastructure. After all, in many ways communication is the life's blood of a law firm.
"In the legal industry — as with just about any professional services realm — the client comes first," Leung says. "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."
With a law firm, of course, providing easy access to clients isn't simply about customer service either. It's about revenue.
"We have different offices that have different cost structures based on time," Leung says. "We want the system to be able to communicate well with our clients. We are a time-based professional services organization, so it's all about the billable hour. So we're driving two things: one to be more efficient in that billable hour, and two, to be able to get as much time billed as possible."
The capability to efficiently communicate internally with colleagues, and especially domain experts, was also a big driver, Leung adds.
Holland & Knight Started by Taking Stock of Its Existing Communications Infrastructure
First, Leung and his team took stock of the current infrastructure. The firm's offices were formed through a series of mergers about 10 years ago, he says, leading to a jumble of PBX infrastructure.
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