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Video conferencing, beyond cost control to other benefits

Janine Dascenzo, an Associate General Counsel at GE who is deeply involved in operations, mentions in a profile that “we have been able to cut travel considerably by using our new video conferencing system, called TelePresence, from Cisco Systems.” That’s all it says in Law Tech. News, April 2009 at 54, but it was enough to sustain some spin off ideas (See my post of Aug. 28, 2008: telepresence; June 22, 2008: as a preferred method to communicate, at 5%; and Oct. 3, 2008: ethics training at Lockheed Martin by videoconference.).

Cost is not the only return on investment from teleconferencing. Reductions in the wear and tear from travel counts for something. Further, with the ability to see people, lawyers and clients can get to know each other more quickly; familiarity breeds content. Aside from the vexations of travel, the ease of a phone-plus-visual meeting enables more frequent meetings so there is a quality improvement.

A second point regarding teleconferencing, oriented externally instead of internally, is that it improves screening interviews of candidates and law firms. Nothing surpasses an in-person meeting, but for reasons of cost, burden, and expediency, an on-screen presence may suffice.

My third thought invokes Buck Rogers and complicated issues of privacy, technology and cost. Why not have web cams on monitors and meld together the images of the spread-out participants so that some of the effect of gathering in a conference room is achieved?