A video conferencing network is one facility now in use by many law firms – both in the City and in international and national practices.

City firm Linklater & Paines has been using British Telecom's VC 7000 system for six months, which currently links the London office with its Brussels, Paris and New York offices.

Linklaters' telecommunications manager Sylvia Partridge admits that although the system at present caters only for a limited number for video conferences, the firm is looking to expand the facility.

She says: "Obviously, one of the determining factors is that the firm had to wait until clients had a video conferencing system. This facility is only just beginning to take off, as more clients, institutions and firms begin to use it more regularly."

London and Oxford-based firm Manches & Co has been holding internal intra-office meetings and client meetings by video since 1990.

Manches' IT manager Derek Brookes explains that the firm's BT video conferencing system is dedicated to the two offices, tailored on ISDN lines, and providing good resolution and synchronisation (this means that the people down the line don't look as if they are speaking from the moon).

Manches also has PC video conferencing kit and software, a cheaper option (with less impressive resolution), which has been used for international link-ups.

National firm Dibb Lupton & Broomhead has also been using video conferencing to link up its London and regional offices in Yorkshire since September 1994. Deputy managing partner Nigel Knowles says the facility is "extremely valuable in time and money terms, but is merely part of the firm's wider IT strategy which is developing rapidly".

More recently, City firm Freshfields linked up all seven of its European offices with the aim of having a video conferencing system as an integral part of its communications system.