Lawyers turn to the cloud to support unified communications adoption


As the legal industry deals with a number of disruptive changes that are forever changing the way law firms make money and handle clients, turning to cloud-hosted unified communications solutions becomes a far more attractive and beneficial option.


The number and severity of problems facing lawyers today is like at no other point in history. There are more legal firms than ever before, which has increased competition for available business and has driven down profit margins. According to the most recent Chief Legal Officer survey from Altman Weil, 41 percent of those polled said they had shifted case loads onto firms with lower prices.


Despite all of these external and internal pressures, law firms still need to be able to deliver a high quality of service to clients. A major component of any lawyer’s job is to effectively communicate with clients, other lawyers, judges and others involved in the legal system. The funds often do not exist to allow firms to rely on legacy communication systems, which is one of the many reasons why legal practitioners are increasingly realizing the benefits of turning to the cloud and leveraging unified communications-as-a-service (UCaaS).


“While these trends are broadly reshaping the landscape of the legal industry, opportunities for revenue and growth are abound,” a May 2012 FlexTel report said. “The more sophisticated firms are using these trends as a catalyst to drive improved productivity, enhanced client service and improve profitability overall. And while an effective communications system is not the only tool needed to foster growth, it provides essential capabilities firms need to meet client service, productivity, competitive and profitability objectives.”


Why UCaaS is ideal for lawyers

There are many reasons why use of UCaaS is growing in the legal industry. For one, it provides lawyers with the tools to be far more productive with their communications. UCaaS eliminates the barriers that too often define legacy systems. Instead of using three separate systems for email, telephone and document transfer, unified communications enables firms to bundle everything together. Efforts can be more effectively coordinated, and dispatches and records are far less likely to be lost in translation.


In addition, UCaaS enables lawyers to more easily have their communications functions with them while on the go. Encompassing everything from client visits to courtroom hearings, legal industry work frequently happens outside of an office setting. Cloud-based unified communication systems ensure lawyers can effectively communicate and access records from any device and from nearly any location.


Unified communication solutions also allow legal experts to employ video options, meaning that lawyers can reap the many benefits of face-to-face conversation without having to leave home. Cash-strapped firms do not need to spend money on travel expenses, but they would still realize the benefits that can only come from in-person communication. UCaaS can take this one step further, boosting the benefits of video by combining its features with instant messaging and other communications approaches.


“Unified Communications and Collaboration (UCC) technology provides a robust framework that allows individuals, groups and organizations to effectively communicate and collaborate regardless of their physical location,” the FlexTel report said. “Law firms can leverage UCC solutions to enhance team productivity, deliver better client solutions and enhance competitive abilities. UCC also drives attainment of business continuity and profitability goals.”