Video rolls for Hamers

Hull-based Philip Hamer & Co has installed two video-conferencing units and plans to buy more.

Senior partner Philip Hamer, who has been watching the area develop for 12 years, says: "Teleconferencing has at last come of age."

He attributes this to the fall in equipment prices. The Intel computer cards cost about u2,000 and the price of ISDN lines has also been falling. Hamer expects the machines to become cheaper still.

The firm has used the system for conferences with its new Sheffield branch and is planning to link up to chambers in Manchester and London.

It is also establishing an ISDN link with 199 The Strand Chambers in London.

Hamer says that teleconferencing adds another dimension to conversation: "Seeing the other person has its benefits."

He believes it will be particularly useful in client-barrister meetings, reducing the need to travel to chambers. Working on the same documents over the system is almost the same as doing it face-to-face, he claims.

But Hamer does admit that the technology and the presentation take some getting used to. The machine is installed in the boardroom, adding a degree of formality which Hamer sees as a good thing at this stage.

He looks forward to when there will be a system on the desk of each fee earner. This will require the latest generation of digital switchboards to cope with switching ISDN lines. "I see this happening within a few years," he says.

However, one potential hold-up is that many offices have yet to install video-conferencing. Hamer likens the situation to that of the early days of faxes.