Morgan Cole is a full-service, regional law firm based in Wales and southern England. It has 552 people including 55 partners working out of six offices in Cardiff, Swansea, Bristol, Reading and Oxford. In February 2009, Morgan Cole merged with CIP Solicitors.
IT director, Jeff Wright, outlines the main issues that led him to look for a new email solution. The first problem was email volume. “Morgan Cole had a single email system across its six offices. As the firm expanded the uncontrollably growing volume of email being stored on the system was threatening its resilience,” he says.
Locating and retrieving important messages was a growing challenge, particularly in light of the nature of the cases handled by the firm – notably its volume insurance work. “Archived emails were stored in PSTs in various places on the firm’s network. In the event of a client inquiry or a claim, we had to make a monumental effort to search for the relevant correspondence.”
Business continuity was another important consideration. Wright and his team minimised disruption to email access by scheduling routine maintenance so that it took place outside office hours. Morgan Cole deployed a separate service for anti-virus and anti-spam protection and Wright was considering purchasing an email archiving solution as well as additional storage to cope with the volume. Instead he turned to Mimecast’s all-in-one service.
The decision to move to cloud-based email was driven by the firm’s continued expansion and a desire to consolidate email management to a single provider. Having reviewed the market, Wright selected Mimecast as a tried and tested service that was popular in the legal space, and importantly, held all data in UK data centres. He wanted a comprehensive email management solution that would reduce infrastructure, maintenance and administrative requirements.
As Morgan Cole continued to grow, a scalable service would cope with expanding demands in terms of data requirements, additional users and offices. Finally, Wright was looking closely at costs. Paying for email management as a running cost rather than a capital investment would provide predictability and certainty to the firm’s IT budget.
The main challenge was the sheer volume of material that needed to be ‘ingested’ into the Mimecast system.
Initial cultural challenges were quickly addressed. “Partners were delighted that they could access the archive directly from Outlook. The search facility, which enables them to find emails within seconds even if they couldn’t remember when they had sent them,” comments Wright.
Fee-earners readily accepted the move to cloud-based email once they were clear about where their data was being stored. “Lawyers needed to know that their data was secure and protected under UK law,” explains Wright. “Mimecast replicates all data across its three UK data centres.”
Mimecast’s all-in-one service combines several essential components. “The multiplicity of functionality is a major advantage – and we no longer have to deal with several different vendors,” says Wright.
The instantly searchable ten-year rolling archive automatically saves all emails and users can retrieve them within seconds. Cloud-based archiving means there is no need to purchase additional storage for the growing volume of important correspondence. It has allowed Morgan Cole to reduce the Exchange database, boost operational resilience and efficiency and achieve better utilisation of SANs.
“We now archive emails over 12 months old, thereby reducing the load on the email system,” explains Wright. “We have implemented a more aggressive deletion policy and introduced mail box limits as users can easily retrieve older emails from the archive.”
The Mimecast service includes anti-spam and anti-virus protection, reducing infrastructure and maintenance requirements. Web-based access to email via any internet connection facilitates business continuity and disaster recovery. The Outlook plug-in means that office-based users can continue to access their email via a familiar interface during any service interruptions.
“If we need to carry out maintenance on a mail server, we can deal with this during the working day and end users don’t notice the difference. Before, we had to schedule that type of work outside office hours, so Mimecast also saves us money in overtime.” Mimecast’s disaster recovery capabilities were tested when one of Morgan Cole’s offices was flooded. Although the office was closed for a week, staff were able to access their email immediately via the internet and there was no disruption to client service.
“As the firm continues to expand, we can simply phone Mimecast and increase our subscription,” explains Wright. “I don’t have to buy extra disk space because Mimecast can handle any extra storage requirements,’ he adds. Scalable services facilitated Morgan Cole’s merger with CIP Solicitors. “Before Mimecast we would have had to run two separate email systems – at least for a while,” says Wright. “Thanks to Mimecast, we were able to clear sufficient space on our primary email database for an additional 80 mailboxes.”
Replacing actual and potential capital outlay with Mimecast’s subscription-based service enabled Morgan Cole to realise considerable savings. The figures speak for themselves. “Having converted the investment cost to an annual cost depreciated over three years, we are saving £20,400 per year for the first three years. We were very pleased to achieve ROI in the first year as well as seamless integration following our merger.”
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