Internet Newsletter for Lawyers
January/February 2004, by Delia Venables

Lawyers Like BlackBerries (and Call for Volunteers)

graphic of a blackberry device A BlackBerry is a handheld device for sending and receiving emails on the move. It can also be used as a mobile phone and general "personal digital assistant" (PDA) with calendar, contact list and text facilities via a small keyboard. The key point about it, and the one which is starting to interest lawyers in the USA and now in the UK and Ireland, is that as a wireless device, it allows access to email whilst on the move and (typically) on the train or in other situations where you cannot usually work. This makes "wasted" time into "useful" time and also improves the speed of response and level of service to clients generally.

The BlackBerry, which includes a built-in wireless modem, can be used on most mobile phone networks including Vodafone, O2 and T-Mobile. To integrate with the main firm's system, a "BlackBerry Enterprise Service " (BES) is run on the network and this enables emails received whilst people are "on the move" to be integrated and synchronised with the office system.

A Blackberry typically costs around £200 although there are also additional costs in the software and server needed on the network. In many cases, a Blackberry can replace a user's laptop computer (which is much larger, heavier and more expensive) as well as a mobile phone.

Firms already using Blackberry devices in a serious way include Clifford Chance, Kennedys, Mishcon De Reya and Thorntons WS. The devices are also used by a number of local authorities, for their professional staff who are "out and about" a lot of their time (and thus away from their normal email) including Cambridge and Westminster.

The key provider of BlackBerry devices in the UK and the infrastructure to go with them is a company called Isis Telecommunications, (, 0845 277 1000. Isis are marketing BlackBerry devices very strongly at the moment and there is a free business user trial available. Software is also available (called MoBill) to manage the billing of mobile phone costs, a major problem for many firms.

Calling all BlackBerry users.....

I would like to include a case study in the next issue, about how a firm or chambers has implemented BlackBerry devices. I would like to know who is being given the devices, whether they like them, whether the devices have caused any problems in the overall management of the firm's network and the costs involved. Are they actually replacing laptops and mobile phones or are they just being seen as another piece of electronic equipment to be carried around?

Will anyone volunteer for this?

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