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Mobile messaging and UC save taxpayer dollars in district court system

Mobile messaging and UC are allowing New Mexico's 13th Judicial District Court System to save taxpayer dollars and provide court employees with simpler case management capabilities.

In 2007, New Mexico's 13th Judicial District Court was a rapidly growing system in desperate need of reducing its mounting communications costs. With four suburban locations outside of Albuquerque constantly increasing in size, it was important to keep costs down and efficiency high -- especially as a public entity operating with taxpayers' dollars.

With a 12% increase in cases filed that year, Greg Ireland, CEO of the 13th Judicial District Court, knew that he had to increase the efficiency of communication for the already strained court employees. Getting hold of attorneys, judges and probation officers was already a tedious process, with attorneys working multiple cases in different areas, judges presiding in various locations within the courthouse, and probation officers constantly being in the field. The 13th Judicial District Court desperately needed a way to keep track of its employees and facilitate communications across the board.

Ireland chose to deploy DiVitas Networks' Mobile UC solution, which provides a host of mobile messaging and UC tools designed to process cases and client calls efficiently, including:

  • Presence and instant messaging (IM) capabilities.
  • Single-number reach via smartphone.
  • Extension-dialing, call hold, call waiting, call forwarding and other desktop phone features, on a smartphone.
  • Seamless roaming between Wi-Fi and cellular networks.
  • Management of a single voicemail and email inbox.
  • Hot-spot roaming.

One cause of the growing need for employee mobility was the rising amount of fieldwork for attorneys and judges. Owing to an increase in pro se litigation -- litigants serving as their own attorneys -- mistakes were often made in filing paperwork. With paperwork mistakes occurring in 40% of domestic and family cases in 2007, all of these cases needed to be reopened.

In an attempt to lessen the frustration felt by both pro se litigants and court employees over these mistakes, Ireland and his team created specialized pro se clinics staffed by attorneys and judges to help litigants fill out forms. But with attorneys and judges being in the field and traveling to and from these free clinics, it became difficult for clients and other employees to reach attorneys and judges when the court system was still operating on a traditional telephone network. If the attorneys were away from their desks, it became nearly impossible for clients to track them down. Unreliable cell phone service left communications irregular among clients, attorneys, judges and other court staff.

With the DiVitas Mobile UC solution, though, attorneys are always accessible to their clients with the single-number reach feature, which allows the attorney to keep one dedicated phone number that reaches his or her office and mobile device. The mobile desk phones allow attorneys to operate in the field as if they were at their desks, and it leverages the court's Wi-Fi network, meaning that fewer cell phone minutes are being used.

"Our cell phone costs are going way down thanks to the DiVitas solution," Ireland said. "Using mobile messaging and UC, our [court system's] attorneys are not tethered to their desks or offices, allowing them to perform their field work and still conduct business."

Attorneys weren't the only court employees to benefit from mobile messaging and UC. Probation officers are often out in the field performing home visits and drug tests, going back and forth among their clients, their offices and the court, where they have to file reports. To maintain contact with all clients and other court employees, probation officers needed mobile messaging and UC capabilities. When the DiVitas solution was rolled out to these officers, inability to communicate with clients or co-workers was no longer an issue.

Mobile messaging and UC also benefited judges, with presence and contacts at their disposal. Juggling civil, criminal and family court/probate calendars became less of a chore when voicemail, email and IM were available on a single convenient device. With presence and contacts available at all times, judges were constantly accessible to employees who needed them, and judges could contact attorneys and other court employees immediately. With communication irregularities no longer a problem, judges were able to close cases at a record pace, saving their time and the taxpayers' money.

Utilizing mobile UC, all court employees are available to their clients and co-workers regardless of location. The presence feature allows court employees to track down judges, attorneys and probation officers with a simple check, rather than wasting time with multiple phone calls. For every employee -- whether attorney, judge or probation officer -- handling multiple cases, collaboration through mobile UC increased efficiency across the board, closing cases faster.

Ireland also found that the solution cut costs. "Because the court no longer needs to hand out expensive desk phones to every employee -- thereby reducing costs dramatically -- taxpayer dollars are being put to use more efficiently," he said. After all, "Good taxpayer value is always important."

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