Case Study: Mark Barnes & Associates

For companies in the defense, firearms, and explosives industries, doing business in the United States means complying with a complex web of federal, state, and local laws that regulate their activities. For help with that – as well as lobbying for or against proposed legislation and performing a range of similar legal services – they turn to Mark Barnes & Associates.

Simplifying the Complex Through Better Communications

Led by founder and Principal Mark Barnes, the firm has lawyers and other legal professionals in Washington D.C., Arizona, and Germany, and deals with both domestic and international clients. Keeping clients and associates connected 24/7 was a complex and nearly impossible proposition—until the firm turned to Mitel® to simplify its communications needs.

How Do You Function as a Single Unit Across Multiple Time Zones?

Providing those services is not a nine-to-five, five-day-a-week proposition. Wherever they are, Barnes and his colleagues have to be available any time, to handle critical client needs that are constantly emerging and fast-changing. And they must be able to work as a tight-knit team despite being in different cities, countries, and time zones.

Until recently, it was virtually impossible to achieve the level of availability and cohesiveness they needed. Relying on traditional telephone communications was costly and inefficient. Calling co-workers in another office involved long-distance dialing, often just to leave a voice message. Meetings with their colleague in Germany meant relying on Skype or making exorbitantly expensive cell phone calls. And keeping track of where everyone was and how best to reach them was a never-ending chore.

The Answer: Mitel® 5000 Communications Platform

Knowing he needed a better solution, and based on fifteen years of excellent service from Mitel’s channel partner Leading Communications Design, Barnes turned to Gregg White at the Virginia-based company for advice. Gregg’s extensive experience turned out to be exactly what Barnes wanted for advising him on his complex communication and logistics related problems.

After a careful analysis of Mark Barnes & Associates’ operations and needs, White explained how the 5000 CP could address the firm’s current challenges and position them to address future requirements as they emerge.

Designed for small and medium-sized businesses, the 5000 CP uses an open architecture and standard communications protocols to provide a wide range of applications that can be mixed and matched to fit any requirements. It enables businesses to network geographically dispersed employees and locations, whether they are connecting offices and applications together over a data network, or deploying digital and IP phones to employees. These capabilities have made the solution popular not only with law firms, but with banks, management consultants, doctors’ offices, health care clinics, technology companies, and many other small and medium-sized businesses.

What the 5000 CP Means for Mark Barnes & Associates

Not only was Barnes sold on the 5000 CP platform, he agreed to act as a beta test site for the newest version– the HX Controller. Now, the company uses the solution to handle all of its communications needs.

How has it changed the way Mark Barnes & Associates communicate? “With Mitel” says Barnes, “what we have is basically a virtual private network linking all our sites as if they were actually in the same physical location. Not only can I direct dial Terri in Germany just as if she were in Washington, I can intercom her or any other colleague as if they were just two doors down in a central office. It’s just a very natural, seamless way of communicating with people down the hallway or half way across the world, and the advantage is that people can more naturally conduct their workflow.”

Barnes travels extensively. Any given day might find him in one of his offices, located in Washington, D.C., and Arizona, occasionally working out of Canada, or on the road. But no matter where he is, calls to his office reach him immediately, and he has access to a range of capabilities that include a single voice mail box, “twinning” to have his desk phone and mobile ring simultaneously, and the ability to send and receive voice mail as sound wave files to Blackberry® smartphones and  other
handheld devices.

The Mitel 5340 IP Phone – "Not Your Father’s Telephone"

To link them into their communications network, personnel at Mark Barnes & Associates offices use the 5340 IP Phone, a next-generation desktop device with a large graphical display, one-touch access to features and applications, and extensive customizability.

“This is not your grandfather’s or father’s telephone,” says Barnes. “What you have here is a computer telecommunications system that really does a fantastic number of things with voice technology.”

The features the company appreciates include the ability to skip easily between directories for the company’s offices and other directories, a visual display that provides location and availability information about co-workers, and one-button dialing of domestic and international numbers that would otherwise require them to key in long strings of numbers.

Perhaps the best feature from Barnes’ perspective is the intercom system that enables anyone in the company to quickly reach anyone else. With push-button ease, Barnes can contact an associate and resolve an issue right away. “I mean, we can dial one another too,” says Barnes,“ but the great advantage of the intercom is I can say ‘Hey, I’ve got a question for you,’ get their response immediately, and we’re done. Even if the other person is miles away, it’s like they are in the next office.”

The Upside of Time Zones

The Mitel solution has even enabled Barnes and his colleague Terri in Germany to turn the time difference that used to cause them headaches into something of an advantage.

When the system’s availability feature tells him that Terri has signed off for the day, Barnes knows he can still deliver requests that will be acted on first thing the next morning. As Barnes describes it, “One of the beauties of the
voice mail component of the system is that I can leave voice mail internally to set up assignments, to remind people of things, and so on.”

Barnes goes on to explain that this has had very real advantages when it comes to meeting client expectations. “With a staff member sometimes eight or nine hours ahead of me, I’m able to convey a client request that comes in very late on the East Coast and get them working on it much earlier than the client could reasonably expect. Because of this, we’ve been able to impress clients by delivering a product virtually overnight.”

Being able to forward voice mail to a third party, such as another attorney working on a particular project with them, is also a productivity enhancer. “It saves the client money,” says Barnes,” because it’s such an efficient way to transfer information without having to re-record it.”

Benefits Today, and Tomorrow

The 5000 CP and 5340 IP Phones have made communications much easier and more effective for Mark Barnes & Associates. And the solution has proven exceptionally easy to deploy and use. “Attorneys don’t do IT,” says Barnes, “They just don’t. So they need a communications solution that simply works the way they need it to, to get the job done.”

Although the firm has no specific plans to expand their use of the 5000 CP solution, he feels certain they will eventually benefit from additional applications. “With Mitel,” he says, “It’s not like they come in and try to sell you a product. Instead, they focus on what your needs are and how best to meet them. And whatever the challenges, they have a solution to address them.”

About Mark Barnes & Associates

Mark Barnes & Associates advises clients on all matters relating to the firearms industry, including global commerce issues and U.N. policy. The firm represents trade associations, individual Federal Firearms Licensees, manufacturers, importers and exporters in a wide variety of regulatory and legislative matters before the executive, judicial, and legislative branches of the government. In addition, the firm represents clients in international trade, business, and global firearms matters, as well as product liability and other consumer product matters relating to the firearms trade.

 


 

Company

Mark Barnes & Associates provides legal counsel and lobbying services to domestic and international clients in the defense and firearms industries. Headquartered in Washington D.C., the firm also has an office in Arizona and an attorney who advises remotely from Germany.

Challenge

Stay in touch with clients and associates 24 x 7, operating seamlessly and cost-effectively as a single office while working in multiple locations across different time zones.

Choice

Mitel 5000 Communications Platform (CP) with Mitel 5340 IP Phones.

Reasons

  • Greatly improved workflow. Associates communicate with each other as if they were in the same office, no matter where in the world they are.
  • Presence awareness. Graphical displays tell them where co-workers are, whether they are available, and how best to contact them.
  • Ease of use. Their communications technology fits the needs and working styles of the people using it, so they can focus on just getting the job done.
  • Cost savings. No more long-distance charges or huge cell phone bills.
  • Ability to use time zones to advantage. Client needs can be quickly conveyed to the time zone where they can be met most efficiently.
  • Mitel’s customer service. Mitel doesn’t try to sell “a product” so much as strive to understand customers’ needs and challenges, and then address them with the best possible solution.

“I travel a lot. When I do get four or five days at a stretch at my desk, it might be in Arizona, Canada, Washington D.C. or somewhere else. One of the tremendous advantages of the Mitel system is that I can work transparently wherever I am, and that’s extremely important to me.”

Mark Barnes, Founder and Principal,
Mark Barnes & Associates