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Dewey Ballantine’s 600-plus lawyers represent clients throughout the world, so our attorneys are often on the road. With e-mail playing an ever-greater role in client-attorney communications, a few years ago we began researching ways to improve our lawyers’ remote access to e-mail. Dewey Ballantine is a general practice firm, with offices in New York; Washington, D.C.; Los Angeles; Palo Alto, Calif.; Houston; Austin, Texas; London; Budapest; Prague; Frankfurt; Warsaw and Hong Kong. Historically, our lawyers relied on laptop PCs and dial-up modems to retrieve e-mail messages and attachments. But mobile access via laptop was complicated because it involved many components: hardware, software, modem, telephone line, etc. Because the laptop connection wasn’t wireless, it required a telephone connection, which could be problematic. We first tried a two-way paging device, but the staff disliked the device because the screen and the keyboard were too small. We knew some firms were using Research in Motion’s BlackBerry, but at the time, it worked only with Microsoft Corp.’s Exchange and we are a Lotus Notes shop. The BlackBerry for Notes device did become available through Motient as an e-link, but we eliminated that option because we were concerned that our messages would not be secure if they were residing on someone else’s server. THE BLACKBERRY PILOT PROGRAM When RIM first began to offer its BlackBerry Enterprise Server software with Notes support we launched a pilot program with 10 lawyers. In April 2001, we purchased the BES software and 20 devices from Motient. We installed the BES software on a Compaq Proliant DL380G2 with 1 GB of RAM and opened the SMTP gateway port to ensure access to the firewall. At the start, we had minor problems because the BES software was new and had some bugs. However, problems were quickly resolved with new service packs, and once installed, our environment became stable. The response from the lawyers in the pilot program was positive, so in May 2001, we began to roll out the device to more users. Almost immediately, the lawyers began to request the ability to read and print e-mail attachments; something that the BlackBerry alone cannot do. We asked Motient and RIM to recommend e-mail attachment programs, and they referred us to Itrezzo, Astata Corp. and Onset Technology. It turned out that Astata was going out of business, a fact that underscored the importance of working with a major company that was going to be around, financially stable and had a proven track record. Although we heard positive feedback about Itrezzo’s product, we had questions about the company’s financial health, and looked for a company that we were confident would develop and grow with us. Overall, Onset Technology’s METAmessage stood out. METAmessage for Wireless software helps users access and manage firm information. By expanding the capabilities of handheld devices, it decreases reliance on laptops and dial-up connections. Users can re-send attachments and other documents, as well as print them to any network printer or to a fax machine. We checked out the product with some large New York firms who were using it and received feedback from users via LawNet listservs. The reports were strong. INSTALLING AND INTEGRATING But before we committed to a user pilot program for METAmessage, we tested it in our IT department and followed that test by establishing a few user accounts through Onset’s ASP service. We liked the results so we decided to do a test pilot by putting METAmessage on a separate server and giving it to a few partners. The lawyers were enthusiastic and reported that the software helped them read and print e-mail attachments in much the same way as they would from their desktops. Dennis D’Alessandro, the firm’s executive director, was an early adopter. “The ability to send an attachment to a fax machine and get a hard copy is invaluable when access to a PC or printer is not available,” he observed. We then purchased the METAmessage software, and Onset helped us install and integrate it into our network in just half a day. We installed the software on a Compaq DL380G2 with NT Version 4. The server has two 1.4GHz Pentium III processors and 1GB of RAM as well as three 36GB hard drives using RAID 5. After Onset left, we began to integrate a fax line into the server, which caused a small roadblock because we weren’t aware that the driver was not part of our Brooktrout fax card. It took us a few days of working intermittently to discover that we needed a specific driver from Onset. That resolved the issue immediately. The next step was to add our users one by one. That required us to update each user’s software (an upgrade done with a Picturetaker package and a customized .ini file for METAmessage) and put the METAmessage icon on the BlackBerry. Once that was accomplished, we visited each user for a few minutes to explain how to use the BlackBerry with METAmessage. INTERNATIONAL SERVERS The BlackBerry/METAmessage combination poses a logistical challenge when lawyers travel internationally. Because it resides on a single network, each user can only have one BlackBerry device active at any given time. Devices used in Europe, however, require a different configuration to accommodate the 3G wireless protocol. We found that the easiest way to surmount this problem was to temporarily disable the BlackBerry device the lawyer uses in the United States and configure a separate BlackBerry for use in Europe. This process also requires us to set up the user’s profile on both the server that we run in the United States and the server in Europe (but they cannot be active simultaneously). Just before the attorney arrives in Europe, we disable his or her local account in the United States and enable the one on the server in Europe, to insure proper receipt and delivery of messages. When the lawyer returns to the United States, we reverse the process. This is time-consuming because it is so individualized, but it’s so important to our users that we invest the resources. By the end of 2002, we had purchased about 300 BlackBerries and started using the system in our Hong Kong office. METAmessage has proven to be a quick-to-implement technology that works well with our existing messaging infrastructure across the globe. We consider the project a success because the technology has facilitated better decision-making, improved communications, and helped with client relations. THE FUTURE Looking ahead this year, we’re investigating the latest software offerings from Onset, especially the GetFile and GetData modules. GetFile helps users access case files and client data on our network. GetData helps users interact with document management systems by entering a query on their BlackBerry. Eva Steiner is director of information technology for Dewey Ballantine and is based in New York. E-mail: [email protected].

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