May shines a spotlight on the legal profession, with National Law Day setting the agenda for the month. The 2017 theme for the month is the 14th Amendment, which, through its Citizenship, Due Process and Equal Protection clauses, advanced the rights of all Americans.
The amendment also played a pivotal role in extending the reach of the Bill of Rights to the states. Ratified during Reconstruction a century and a half ago, the Fourteenth Amendment serves as the cornerstone of landmark civil rights legislation, the foundation for numerous federal court decisions protecting fundamental rights, and a source of inspiration for all those who advocate for equal justice under law.
Unified communications shares something with the Fourteenth Amendment, in that UC extends full collaboration to every employee, regardless of location or role. Today, law firms and ancillary legal services can make good use of this bedrock of access, with benefits ranging from increased lawyer productivity and cost-control to deepening client relationships.
UC first and foremost allows secure, multiplatform conversations between members of a legal practice and clients. Lawyers tend to rely on good old-fashioned voice calls to get business done—generally because personal (hackable) email, instant messaging and chat apps via social media are far from private. UC on the other hand provides a secure platform for message-based conversations that protect attorney-client privilege. This can be incredibly useful in today's digital era, when phone calls aren't necessarily the most efficient way of exchanging information.
Like any other kind of small business, law firms need to be able to communicate effectively with clients, colleagues or peers across geographies and time zones. UC can increase availability and offer flexibility for everyone involved. Features like conferencing, softphones and mobile video chat can all be invaluable tools for real-time collaboration, allowing attorneys to stay deeply involved in cases in an efficient way—setting one's practice apart from the un-modernized competition.
Opening the door to "omnichannel" communications also cuts down on administrative costs, allowing legal firms to devote billable hours to clients, not busywork. That in turn can help build loyalty and provide more perceived value to their services. Firms can use integrate their UC platform with third-party software, so that client conversations can be tracked and accurate time is allocated to projects.