Peer to Peer Magazine

March 2011

The quarterly publication of the International Legal Technology Association

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It has become abundantly clear that mobile devices are a necessary part of an attorney’s legal practice, and IT departments are finding that they need to change their policies to meet the demand for firm support of the latest and greatest devices. Several ILTA members who are leading these efforts at their firms recently sat down at a virtual roundtable to share their views on how to support the ever-growing list of mobile devices and manage user expectations. Each person’s interview can be heard in its entirety on the accompanying podcasts. What is your firm’s strategy for supporting mobile devices? Donald Sternfeld: We break it into two pieces: PDAs like BlackBerry and iPhone, and mobile computers –– laptops and iPads. We support a PDA for any lawyer who requests it. With the exception of data-only BlackBerry devices, which the firm provides, a lawyer has to purchase the device himself or get it as part of the agreement with his carrier. With all devices, whether provided by the firm or purchased by the lawyer, we pay for unlimited voice, data and text. On the mobile computer side, all lawyers are given the option of a laptop or desktop as their primary computer. The firm owns and supports it. We also provide limited support for iPads, but don’t purchase them for the lawyers. Larry McGrath: We take a laissez faire approach and allow the use of any device that complies with Microsoft Exchange 2010 and Microsoft Exchange ActiveSync security settings. Ryan Alban: Our policy is to look for the platforms that best allow our attorneys to stay in touch with their clients and that support the applications that assist in their practice of law. David Michel: We have identified several platforms that we support — namely Android, iPhone and BlackBerry — and we’re testing out several others, including Windows 7. Our basic strategy is to find out what people want to use, see if it’s a viable option, and then have the proper density of deployment to be sure we can properly support the attorneys before we advise them to purchase something. Do you outsource your mobile device management? Larry: Not currently. Of course, it takes a bit of advanced knowledge in our IT department to support all of the devices, but we handle a wide range of ActiveSync devices as well as BlackBerrys. Fortunately, BlackBerry has been around for a long time and the management tools they have work great. David: We don’t outsource either. I have a telecom manager, and one of his responsibilities is the overall management of the wireless devices and the various plans and carriers we support. Ryan: We don’t outsource because we feel we can provide better attorney support internally. Donald: Guess I’m the exception here. We outsource the management of PDAs and smartphones with their various carriers. We do that because, unlike in the past when the firm used only one carrier, we now allow lawyers to choose their own. So, of course it became too difficult for IT to manage all of the agreements and rate plans. As for ROI, the benefit to us in outsourcing isn’t so much one of cost, but being able to rely on outside experts who do a better support job than we could with a full-time in-house person. For those who provide in-house support, what challenges and benefits do you see from internal support? David: One of the biggest challenges is having people deal with their bills — they can be difficult to comprehend and are sometimes inaccurate. Dealing with reimbursements from attorneys can be time-consuming. Another issue we had to deal with was making sure we didn’t introduce a new product that the helpdesk and IT department couldn’t properly support. Ryan: Obviously, it’s a challenge supporting a large number of devices, but we have a variety of tools to help us do so. This includes mobile device management software and the remote control utilities that you might use for your desktop computing, as well as telecom expense software that helps us keep the cost in line. For ActiveSync-based devices (iPhone, Android, Windows Phone 7), do you use any management tools? Why or why not? Peer to Peer the quarterly magazine of ILTA 21

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