Most businesses rely on the connections they have with their customers, and yet while this is increasingly being done through writing – like email or live chat – some industries still rely on direct, person-to-person contact for their work. Legal practices are such examples of this since typically a lawyer’s work needs constant and regular updates from clients, colleagues, and legal correspondents.
That is why upgrading to a VoIP system is beneficial for lawyers and clients alike. Not only is such a service cheaper and easier to maintain since it only requires compatible phones and a stable enough internet connection, but it also greatly improves communication via enterprise-grade features.
But it isn’t only for effective communication that law firms will find VoIP is worth opting for. Unlike traditional phone systems where calls can be intercepted, with internet-based phone systems all conversations, messages, and faxes are encrypted to further enhance the confidentiality that clients will expect from legal practices.
What to Look for in a Phone System for Law Offices
When it comes to law firms, connecting clients to the best person to handle their cases is of utmost importance. With the fully programmable auto-attendant that many cloud phone systems have, clients can direct themselves to the right extension with ease by navigating through an interactive voice response menu. Additionally, auto-attendants can be set up to greet clients in a professional manner by playing a recording based on the time of the day and therefore whether the office is closed or not.
Best VoIP Systems of 2020
|Editor's Choice 2020|
All VoIP systems are equipped with call tracking, meaning that it is possible to log all the essential information that the legal practice needs – from the time and duration of the call to the caller’s identity – to assist with billing clients based on the time spent on their case. In certain phone systems users can also record calls, which can come in handy when additional people are involved in the case.
Although VoIP systems can intelligently forward calls to the right person, there may be instances where the call isn’t taken such as when a client needs to speak with a specific lawyer who is currently unavailable. With voicemail, however, no calls are truly missed, as the recording is immediately sent to the intended recipient by email as an MP3 attachment.
Advanced VoIP services are even capable of transcribing voicemail messages word by word, which is a great asset for those who don’t want to waste time manually writing down recordings. Note, however, that while voicemail to email is a default feature of cloud phone systems, if voicemail transcription is available then it is a pay-only extra.
Business Texting and Faxing
Since VoIP services are multichannel platforms rather than simple phone systems, employees in legal practices can communicate via other means, too. Business texting in particular lets you send and receive short messages using the business’s phone number, therefore eliminating the need for setting up and paying for additional mobile phone numbers. Online faxing – which, sadly, isn’t as widespread in VoIP solutions – also unites two communication channels into one while still providing the data protection that online faxing is known for.
Users are provided two different conferencing options with VoIP. The merger of calls – also known as three-way conferencing – is for situations where a law office employee needs to jump into an ongoing conversation to help out. There is also conferencing in the traditional sense of the word, but in this case participants are provided with a dedicated extension to ensure the conference can be achieved without blocking regular phone traffic.
Recommended Law Office Phone Systems
For many people RingCentral is the business phone system since it encompasses all benefits that VoIP could possibly hope to provide. This means the features that people would expect from such a service are all impressively implemented, but it’s actually the small extras that make this cloud phone system provider a must-have for legal practices.
For starters, RingCentral comes with a straightforward visual interactive voice response menu editor, as well an auto-attendant that can be customized with professional greetings and business hours. RingCentral provides multiple means of lawyer/client interaction, whether that is via SMS, fax, or live chat, which is courtesy of RingCentral’s Glip app. And to truly top things off, RingCentral is compatible with many third-party apps with which mundane tasks can easily be partially or fully automated.
Admittedly, RingCentral plans are a bit pricey – starting from $19.99 per month per user on an annual basis – but all of them come with unlimited domestic minutes, free business text messaging, and a 15-day risk-free trial.
Unlike RingCentral, Grasshopper is mostly suitable for small or freshly-founded legal practices. However, it’s quite enough for such situations because, aside from the most important features, Grasshopper users enjoy crystal clear voice clarity as well as inbound faxing and unlimited business text messaging.
Although some crucial features like the auto-attendant are missing, Grasshopper makes up for it with clever additions, particularly the Instant Response feature that automatically sends a text message to missed callers. However, missing a call is virtually impossible with Grasshopper, since calls can be forwarded in many different ways and the system will also send voicemails to the intended receiver either as a transcribed document or as the original sound file.
Compared to other solutions, Grasshopper is a little expensive as even the cheapest annual plan costs $26 a month. However, with the exception of the number of phone numbers and extensions, all plans are unlimited and come with a 30-day money-back guarantee.
Phone Devices and Hardware
Even before it’s decided what additional hardware might be needed in the law office, it is important to first ping test the firm’s internet connection in order to ensure that it’ll be able to handle the increased data traffic that VoIP adds into the mix. Only after that can the business decide whether it will opt for either keeping the old phones and connecting them to the internet with adapters or purchasing new devices. While using analog phones with adapters is a quick and effective way of adjusting the office to internet telephony, it’s recommended to equip the business with IP-compatible phones since they are easily configurable and come in numerous shapes and forms.
Fixed devices are usually enough for law firms, but in order to ensure the kind of constant availability that clients require from this kind of business, choosing a VoIP service to which smartphones can be connected as well is a must. Thankfully, this is a default feature in most VoIP systems, meaning that by downloading the dedicated app, employees can leave the office but stay in touch with colleagues and clients alike.