More and more we see evidence of the importance of technology’s “wow factor” in the legal environment.

Whether in a courthouse, law school, or law firm, facilities large and small are discovering the benefits of integrated audiovisual platforms and early acoustical planning. Through decades of multi-discipline practice, we’ve watched as the electronic and acoustical requirements for this specialized field evolve, and I’d like to share some recent trends and lessons learned:

Environments for Better Performance: We advocate Acoustics for AV and AV for Acoustics, as we believe they are interdependent in the pursuit of proper room performance. The combined utilization of AV devices & displays in the proper acoustical environment provides the foundation of improved collaboration and better performance to clients, students, and courthouse staff by increasing intelligibility of the systems or speaker to the room occupants.

Ensuring Privacy: As law offices implement more open plan and glass partitioned space, the emphasis on containing noise transmission and ensuring privacy is paramount. Of equal concern are the performance qualities of audio and visual systems in these progressively designed environments. Today’s reliance on videoconferencing & dedicated Telepresence rooms adds special challenges to the acoustic design of conference and meeting rooms. Lessons learned are that Acoustics in these spaces must be balanced for intelligibility yet isolated for external sound transmission.

Development of Standards: If we’re designing for a large multi-site, multi-office firm, we always introduce the benefits of taking an enterprise & standards approach to planning. This allows for the user experience to be consistent and familiar from location to location. Implementing AV standards reduces the set-up time for a meeting or a conference and in turn increases office effientcy and ROI on the use of installed technology.

Anticipating Tomorrow’s Needs Today: Whatever technology is being designed / implemented must be considered not only by its technology performance benefit, but what impact its physical size and space requirements will have on the facility. Rooms in any law school, courthouse or law firm should have sufficiently planned infrastructure and connectivity to anticipate future needs. For example, we’re seeing increasing requirements for display port outputs and HDMI appear in commercial settings. The system signal and input path must be able to facilitate these and other possible connection modalities, or at least have the necessary space provided for future input connection enhancements.

Integrated Control Systems for Maintenance and Scheduling: Room systems must be reliable and robust, and device controls intuitive and user friendly. Multiple conference systems should have the ability to request maintenance via remote diagnostics and incorporate room-scheduling software that ensures “room-readiness”. Conference rooms now designed for ‘round-the-clock operation’ no longer require an operator for each room to initiate or operate systems for meetings. Even catering and food service scheduling can be incorporated into this room scheduling software for added efficiencies.

Use of creative multimedia as a competitive differentiator: In a Law Firm, this includes presenting the corporate message, the use of telepresence, and even enabling a mission-control back office or remote site to route multiple real-time IM’s, streaming video and evidentiary materials to a conference, litigation or deposition. Some of this is the impressive “wow factor” I mentioned, but more importantly, it’s a tangible technical tool to bring all resources and sources of information to the front lines of a case.

Moot Courts: Not every law firm or school has the space available for a full Moot Court room design within its facility, however technology systems can be added to the design of multipurpose rooms, divisible conference rooms, and even Cafes or Lounges We are involved with a number of firms that design multipurpose and multi-configurable spaces for this requirement. Cafés & lounges within the firm can also be media enabled and configured to serve as additional meeting spaces.

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