Nowhere is the adage “time is money” truer than in a law firm, where efficiency is measured in billable hours. When Greenberg Traurig, which has 800 attorneys and lobbyists in 17 offices around the United States and one office in Brazil, sought a way to save time, it turned to videoconferencing. “To fly someplace for a one-hour meeting can cost you a whole day,” says Jay Nogle, the firm’s director of legal systems and IT point man. “An attorney on a plane can’t interact with associates or clients, so there’s a whole lot of lost productivity.”
In January 2000, the firm tapped Portsmouth, N.H.-based Video Network Communications Inc. (VNCI) to install its PC-based, TV-quality system in conference and training rooms and on the desktops of managing partners. The VNCI product provides real-time, 30-frames-per-second video?meaning that a wave of the hand doesn’t look choppy onscreen?and is routed over existing copper phone lines, so there was no need to increase bandwidth. The typical installation cost for all clients is about $2,500 to $3,000 per end point, says VNCI Vice President of Sales and Marketing Stephen LaMarche.
The videoconferencing capabilities have been an instant hit; schedules for the conference and training rooms fill up promptly. Many clients won’t talk about certain matters on the phone, says Nogle. “If a litigation client in our Phoenix office needs to talk to our tax specialist in New York, they can have a videoconference in a matter of minutes without losing the sense of trust they get from seeing [their lawyer]. And in our business, it’s all about trust.”