Lewis Brisbois Bisgaard & Smith is the largest law firm in the city of Los Angeles, the second largest in the state of California and the 30th largest in the United States. Since its founding in 1979, the firm has expanded to 34 offices across 14 states, offering legal practice in more than 35 specialties.
At a time when many of America’s largest law firms are in decline, Lewis Brisbois has been adding new attorneys and offices at a staggering rate, largely through its acquisition of other firms. “When you’re bringing in a new firm, the key challenge is making those lawyers fully productive as quickly as possible,” says Frank Gillman, chief information officer at Lewis Brisbois. “They might be on completely different hardware and software platforms, which can make it difficult to integrate them into your systems. We wanted to make it possible for a lawyer to be working for one firm on a Friday, then doing the same amount of work for us the following Monday.”
Lewis Brisbois worked with Agile360, an award-winning Citrix partner, to choose and implement the right combination of solutions for aggressive growth. Today, the firm relies on Citrix XenDesktop with Citrix XenApp to deliver business-critical applications to thousands of attorneys and support staff nationwide, enabling newly acquired firms to gain easy access to virtual desktops on laptops, smartphones and home computers. The firm also deploys Citrix NetScaler App Delivery Controller to help secure client data across its virtual desktop environment, even on personal mobile devices.
The Citrix environment was put to the ultimate test in December 2014, when a massive fire broke out in an apartment building directly adjacent to the firm’s Los Angeles office. The heat was so intense that it knocked out all of the windows on one side of the building, activating the sprinkler system and causing extensive smoke and water damage throughout the Lewis Brisbois office. In the aftermath of the fire, more than 600 employees were displaced from their offices, including core financial staff. “The fire could not have happened at a worse time,” says Timothy Graves, managing partner at the firm’s Los Angeles office. “Like most law firms, we’re on an annual billing cycle. December is crucial from a billing perspective because we’re trying to wrap things up and meet our year-end goals. And just like that, with no warning whatsoever, we found ourselves entirely dependent on our Citrix XenDesktop environment to keep the office running.”
Citrix XenDesktop including XenApp technology made it possible for Lewis Brisbois to recover from a major cataclysmic event with minimal loss. “I’m sure our business interruption would have been tenfold without this solution,” says Graves. “Everybody in our office acknowledges that. Even as we were dealing with the immediate aftermath of the fire—leasing a new space, moving everyone to a different office—we were able to keep the core components of our business up and running, and keep our attorneys practicing law.”
Prior to working with Citrix XenDesktop, the acquisition of another firm could introduce significant technical difficulties, with IT teams scrambling to work around the inevitable hardware and software incompatibility. “No acquisition is simple, of course, but our Citrix XenDekstop environment enables us to achieve a fairly seamless integration in very short order,” says Gillman. “That significantly reduces the cost and pain of acquisition and therefore puts us in a better position to grow more aggressively.”
Citrix XenDesktop enables Lewis Brisbois to do more with less. “A lot of firms have a more traditional client server solution, and they only use Citrix XenApp for remote access,” says Gillman. “But if you find yourself in a disaster scenario, it’s difficult to scale that up and function as a primary enterprise for a long time. With our Citrix XenDesktop solution, we can run fairly thin at the administrative level, supporting people day in and day out, even during a significant emergency. And our employees have 24/7 access to the apps and desktops they need to be fully productive no matter what, so they can always provide the best possible service to our clients.”
In addition to growing through acquisition, Lewis Brisbois is always looking to bring in fresh talent to help handle the firm’s extraordinarily large volume of cases. Citrix XenDesktop technology makes Lewis Brisbois a more attractive workplace, especially for younger attorneys who expect a high level of technical innovation in the office. “People coming out of law school want to use their smartphones for conducting day-to-day business,” says Graves. “For many of them, that’s a fairly basic requirement, but a lot of firms simply don’t have the technology to do that. Our Citrix XenDesktop environment enables us to deliver on those expectations, which immediately places us in a more competitive stance when we’re recruiting new talent.”
As Lewis Brisbois continues to expand its footprint throughout the United States, Citrix technology will remain crucial to the firm’s ongoing success. “In the tech arena, the scope of change is massive,” says Gillman. “No one can be entirely certain what our technology requirements will be next year, let alone five years from now. Having a nimble environment like Citrix XenDesktop gives us the tools we need to respond to those kinds of changes, no matter what lies ahead.”
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