Situation and Challenges
In the document-intensive legal world, lawyers constantly search for ways to better collaborate with clients, partners and co-counsel. Large files and documents such as legal briefs, depositions, exhibits and media are shared on a daily basis. In addition, access to this information must be available anywhere, anytime. Managing this mission-critical content efficiently—and securely—is a major challenge.
Burr & Forman LLP is a century old, full-service law firm with more than 500 employees at eight offices in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi and Tennessee. The firm offers a wide range of business and litigation services to diverse clients with a variety of local, national and international interests.
Attorneys and paralegals at Burr & Forman formerly sent large files, upwards of 30 at a time, to clients, witnesses and other attorneys. But mail servers, unable to handle the requests, would simply bounce back large files. Frustrated employees also relied heavily on IT to use FTP servers for large file transfers, as well as for electronic data discovery and litigation support. The process challenged the IT team to ensure the security of sensitive and confidential case data, a serious concern for a law firm.
As these limitations mounted the firm looked for a content sharing solution that would simplify sending and receiving large files and provide a secure and easy-to-use alternative to FTP and conventional email attachements. After evaluating several alternatives, including RepliWeb, Accellion and Dropbox, YouSendit for Business was the clear winner.
Prior solutions were slow, costly and inefficient
Prior to deploying YouSendit for Business, large files were shared back and forth either as email attachments or through Microsoft FTP Service, a free, but cumbersome file sharing solution. Both solutions were inadequate for Burr & Forman.
When it became clear that email was no longer able to handle the large attachment sizes, employees began relying heavily on FTP for file transfers. However, because of the complexity of using FTP, users were entirely dependent on IT to set up and maintain the FTP sites. With a typical FTP transfer taking 15 to 20 minutes, IT was constantly interrupted and disrupted. Sending files after hours was also a problem since IT was not always available 24/7 to send documents. Something needed to be done.
In addition to improving process efficiencies, Burr & Forman sought significant productivity enhancements. Like all law firm attorneys bill their time on an hourly basis, so delivering value for every minute is paramount. Support teams were asked to do more for a growing number of groups.
“You have to make everyone more efficient,” said David Michel, CIO of Burr & Forman. “Your options are to either use technology or hire more people. These days, technology is an easier sell.”
Simple to use, easy to administer
Usability was a key selection criteria when Burr & Forman evaluated collaboration tools. YouSendit for Business won, hands down. “In a law firm where time is money, it’s hard to get the time to train people,” Michel said. “The solution had to be intuitive and easy for everyone to use.”
The solution also needed to be easy for IT to set up and administer. “You can’t really have a system that requires IT to manually add and remove users,” said Michel. “It’s just not a good use of their time."
Seamless Microsoft integration = rapid adoption
Burr & Forman deployed YouSendit for Business to more than 500 employees in eight offices across five states in a matter of days.
Michel directly attributes this quick deployment to YouSendit for Business’s “flawless” and seamless integration with the firm’s existing Microsoft suite of products including Outlook, SharePoint and Active Directory.
Microsoft Outlook is by far the most popular email client across all industries— including law firms. With YouSendit for Business’s Microsoft Outlook Plugin, users share files and folders in the same way they add an attachment to an email, except now bounce backs are eliminated and network performance enhanced.
YouSendit for Business’s SharePoint Plugin is also important to Burr & Forman. Now users at the firm simply send files directly from SharePoint, to recipients both inside and outside the corporate firewall.
“Our users are working in SharePoint all the time, whether they realize it or not,” Michel said. “They just right click and send it through YouSendit for Business. That’s going to make it much easier for everyone to communicate and collaborate.”
Furthermore, all account information and activity—including user set-up and system security—is managed through Active Directory, the backbone of Burr & Forman’s Microsoft environment. YouSendit for Business’s integration with Active Directory enables administrators to easily provision users, enable single sign-on and apply security policies. “YouSendit for Business was very easy and quick to set up,” added Michel. “I don’t have to worry about it.”
YouSendit for Business works where you work
Mobility is the next challenge Michel and his team tackled. With attorneys constantly on the go, accessing content folders and filesfrom any device–in the office, at home or on the road–is critical.
“More and more of our people use iPads,” Michel said. “Additionally, everyone has an iPhone or a Droid or a Blackberry. With YouSendit for Business, no matter where you are, you’ve got a folder just like the folder on your desktop. You can open a document, edit it, and mark it up. You even have the ability to digitally sign documents using your finger, which is wonderful!”
By deploying YouSendit for Business, Burr & Forman dramatically improved IT and business productivity,security and reduced costs. YouSendit for Business is easy to install and maintain, boosting IT productivity. It’s also very easy to use, requiring zero training for new users, and increasing the productivity of the firm’s 500 employees who are able to get more done, faster. Michel estimates that YouSendit for Business saves the law firm more than $160,000 per year. In addition to boosting IT and business productivity, YouSendit for Business significantly improves security by enforcing blacklists so content is shared with appropriate recipients, file expiry policies, VRI, tracking and return receipts.