The law firm picked ShoreTel for its rich feature set but after Hurricane Katrina struck its Gulfport office, it was the IP telephony systems’ resilience that proved its worth.

Shoretel phone system

The law firm of Balch & Bingham, established in Birmingham, AL, more than 80 years ago, has seven offices spread across three states and Washington, DC. Like many organizations doing business in the Gulf region, which is prone to hurricanes, Balch & Bingham was painfully aware that its disparate phone systems lacked the resiliency that is so critical to bringing the business back online in the event of a disruption or natural disaster. The right set of continuity and recovery capabilities is essential to a business that is absolutely dependent upon its voice communications.

“Phones are critical in a law firm. We had experienced problems with Hurricane Ivan. One office flooded, and moving the telephone system to the second floor was a major effort. We had already done quite a bit of disaster-recovery planning”

– Mark Norris, Director of IT, Balch & Bingham.

The Challenge

When Balch & Bingham decided to pull the plug on its multiple, aging, circuit-switched telephony systems in favor of a unified, IP-based network, business continuity was certainly an important factor in selecting a replacement. However, as none of the separate phone systems in place at its seven offices delivered a stellar performance, their search criteria extended beyond redundancy and disaster-recovery. Seeking to put an end to missed calls, unhappy clients, high maintenance costs, and continuous administrative headaches, Balch & Bingham sought a full-featured unified communications system that would streamline internal processes as well as help them to serve clients better.

“The engineer had the ShoreTel system up and running in an hour,”

– Mark Norris, Director of IT, Balch & Bingham.

The Solution

In January 2005, following a six-month trial of a ShoreTel system, Balch & Bingham began to implement the ShoreTel system in tandem with a major upgrade of its frame relay network to a MultiProtocol Label Switching (MPLS) network, which assures a high quality of service and guaranteed bandwidth. The rollout went smoothly, and the ShoreTel system delivered on its promise. Benefits include:

  • When Hurricane Katrina swept across Gulfport, the system’s recovery capabilities allowed Balch & Bingham to reestablish communications services in a day.
  • Ease of management with the streamlined tools of ShoreTel Directorhelped the firm to achieve a lower total cost of ownership from day one, as senior IT staff are not needed to perform adds, moves, and changes.
  • ShoreTel Call Manager’s single interface enables attorneys to manage communications using their ShoreTel desk phone, computer, mobile phone, or home telephone, increasing productivity and easing collaboration.
  • ShoreTel’s Workgroups feature helps to improve client service. Administrative assistants can set up conference calls, as well as monitor extensions and calls in the queue from their desktops.
  • The system, which looks and behaves like a single, unified platform, scales with plug-and-play simplicity, enabling attorneys and staff to communicate quickly and easily with each other regardless of their location.

“When we turned ShoreTel on, it worked.”

– Mark Norris, Director of IT, Balch & Bingham.

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