Building on a strong foundation in public policy and economic development practice begun nearly 40 years ago, McNair Law Firm, P.A., is a full-service law firm serving businesses, government, and individuals from nine offices across the Carolinas.
In a legal environment, ensuring high levels of customer satisfaction, which can require around the clock availability for clients, is critical to success, and email is a key element in accessibility. As a result, email outages-whether caused by threats from viruses, spam, or even natural disasters-could place a firm at risk. “Email is mission critical at McNair Law Firm, and any email outage would have a significant impact on our ability to meet the needs of our clients,” explains Mike Kirton, Director of Technology at McNair. “This means that any email outage can be expensive both in terms of lost revenue and in damage to the firm’s reputation.”
In 2010, after McNair’s AS/AV provider experienced two major outages, Kirton concluded that the level of support available from the vendor was inadequate to meet the firm’s needs. At the same time, Kirton noticed an increase in the number of business-continuity related horror stories posted on industry listservs and user forums, where he is an active participant. “My peers had experienced issues with disaster recovery that severely impacted their firms’ ability to operate,” he notes. “The challenges those law firms were experiencing made me realize that it was time for us to be proactive and implement a more reliable solution before a similar threat affected our business.”
The need to invest in an email management solution that could offer AS/AV protection while protecting business continuity was an easy sell to McNair management, and Kirton began his search for a more comprehensive solution.
While peers’ experiences presented a number of worst-case scenarios, they had also provided Kirton with guidance as to where to begin his search for an email management solution. “My peers had consistently pointed to Mimecast as an excellent option to help us ensure that we provided, and protected, the mission-critical email our users relied on to do the firm’s business,” Kirton comments. “Mimecast has become a real leader in the cloud-based enterprise email management space, delivering reliable spam and virus protection combined with valuable business continuity features. Mimecast offered an ideal set of features for us.”
McNair chose Mimecast and quickly realized the high level of support they could expect to receive from their new email management solution provider. “We had an auto-renewal contract with our existing AS/AV vendor, and we’d had a difficult time getting them to acknowledge we were ending the contract. This meant that our Mimecast implementation, including creating accounts and changing mail records, had to be completed within a very tight timeframe,” Kirton notes. “We literally had only a few days from signing an agreement to going live, and despite the timing, the transition to Mimecast was completely seamless for our users.”
Reliable business continuity
Not long ago, McNair’s Mimecast implementation was put to the test when the email server in one of the firm’s branch offices went down. The IT team was able to quickly point users to the Mimecast website so that they could continue to service and communicate with clients. “The revelation for our IT team was that the availability of Mimecast took some of the pressure off,” Kirton comments. “We still acted as quickly as possible to resolve the server issue, but we were not under the same pressure as if email was simply unavailable. Mimecast paid for itself during just that single incident.” Kirton already has plans to implement Mimecast’s Outlook integration, which will provide users with a more familiar interface during email failover.
Proactive email security
With an existing AS/AV solution that didn’t deliver the desired protection or support, McNair was at risk from possible network downtime, which could jeopardize the firm’s ability to operate. Since implementing Mimecast, however, the firm is already seeing the benefits of the proven solution. “Mimecast offers much better spam filters than our previous tool and the change in the amount of spam that actually reaches user inboxes has been measurable; I can literally see the improvement on a daily basis,” Kirton says.
Improved network performance
One of the added benefits of effective spam and virus protection is that all threats are blocked at the gateway, lowering overall email volume. For McNair, lower volume equates to a reduction in network traffic for improved network performance.
Convenient mobile access
With a number of McNair’s users regularly on iPhone, BlackBerry, or Android phones, Kirton notes that users depend on the ability to send and receive email on their wireless devices, a capability that must continue during an email server outage. In the hurricane-prone Carolinas, Kirton and his colleagues get peace of mind from knowing that McNair employees would still be able to access email using a laptop or other mobile device—even in the event of a natural disaster.
Potential for email archiving implementation
While email archiving wasn’t a feature that McNair sought in an email management solution, the option to use Mimecast’s archiving feature in the future is appealing. “Even though we have no immediate plans to use Mimecast’s archive feature, we were impressed to learn it was an option,” says Kirton. “I can envision instances where a Mimecast archive could be a benefit—in the case of a mobile user who would like to retrieve an older message, for example. We like knowing that another component of the Mimecast solution is available for us down the road if we choose to use it.”