The law firm Banner & Witcoff specializes in intellectual property law, including patent, trademark, copyright, trade secret, computer, franchise, and unfair competition law. Firm members deal with legal problems across a wide range of technologies and industries, from automotive manufacturing to lasers, and custom catalysts for petrochemical processes to genetically engineered pharmaceuticals. The firm also has successfully represented clients in numerous landmark cases, including several renowned intellectual property decisions in the United States Supreme Court. The firm has offices in Chicago, Boston, Washington, D.C., and Portland, Oregon.
Banner & Witcoff came to understand very early on that excellent client service would differentiate its law practice from competing firms and be a major factor in the firm’s success. The firm also was aware that emerging IP technology, coupled with a highly-skilled team of attorneys, could make this vision a reality. The goal was to enable Banner & Witcoff’s attorneys, regardless of location, to be reached by and respond to their clients.
The firm wanted attorneys to be able to retain their telephone numbers and customized features as they traveled from office to office. In addition, Banner & Witcoff wanted employees in all four of its locations to collaborate easily and efficiently, while controlling communications costs. Consolidating its four separate systems into a single company-wide network would allow the firm to maintain and administer one network of systems, with a single point of contact for service. At the same time, the firm wanted to unify access to all messages and enhance mobility by allowing its attorneys to quickly and easily communicate with clients and associates.
Business continuity was also a top priority. The new solution would have to ensure that, in case of a network or location disruption, individual offices would continue to function — and keep the brains of the business productive.
The verdict for Banner & Witcoff was a combination of Avaya IP Telephony and Mobility solutions that seamlessly connect its locations. The Banner & Witcoff solution is based on Avaya MultiVantage Communications Applications, including Avaya Communication Manager running on redundant Avaya S8700 Media Servers at the firm’s Washington, D.C. office. This server pair also delivers telephony features and control to the firm’s corporate offices in Chicago, Boston and Portland. At each site, Avaya Media Gateways and Media Servers with Local Survivable Processors stand ready to take over call processing locally and keep communication moving in the event that network links are impaired. The 200 employees of the firm in all four locations use Avaya IP telephones.
“The IP telephony solution is flexible and easy to manage, and we can change and grow, practically without limit, no matter what the future may hold,” says Bill Costello, Manager of Information Technology for Banner & Witcoff.
Since the installation of the Avaya system, the firm has made dramatic improvements to internal processes, resulting in streamlined operations and the ability to respond more quickly to clients.
• Increased speed and effectiveness in client support through more efficient access and delivery of messages and information. The unified inbox provided by Avaya Unified Communication Center is one of the most important mobility and productivity enablers. Now, employees at the desktop can access e-mail, voice messages, and faxes on-screen from a single inbox.
• Consistent features and functions across all offices eliminates need to re-educate traveling associates on different systems. An attorney traveling to another Banner & Witcoff office can get right to work simply by picking up a phone and entering a personal identification code. Instantly, that phone takes on all the characteristics of the lawyer’s primary office phone.
• Faster linkage of people, processes, and resources creates more productive internal collaboration for delivery of critical client services. In everyday operations, four-digit dialing between the four main offices makes it easier for attorneys to quickly contact each other for consultation and collaboration. Attorneys can quickly set up conferences with up to six associates and clients using the Avaya Communication Manager software’s built-in conferencing capabilities. Initiating calls and adding conferees are simplified by an integrated directory.
• Avaya’s “work from anywhere” solution enhances business continuity and fosters more secure, reliable, and agile business operations. The Avaya IP Softphone provides the “office anywhere” capability. The IP Softphone client software loads onto a laptop or other computer, giving Banner & Witcoff’s attorneys all the network and communication capabilities they would have in their home office — the same telephone number, same customized telephone capabilities, and the same access to the company network and directories. The Avaya IP Softphone facilitates important gains in business continuity, enabling attorneys to work efficiently even when the office becomes unavailable.
• Reduced costs through elimination of intra-company calling costs, lowered voice network management, and maintenance at individual locations. Maintenance has been greatly simplified, for now there is one communications system throughout the company and one messaging server for all messages. Today, one part-time employee maintains the converged network, instead of the four different vendors the company used previously. Avaya Global Services monitors system operations on a 24x7 schedule. Avaya Integrated Management makes it easy to administer the entire communication solution and do basic troubleshooting from one location. IT
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