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NAELA News Journal - NAELA News Online

The Big Teleconference Solutions

By Audrey Ehrhardt, Esq., CBC
Published September 9, 2020
The post-pandemic landscape provides a variety of readily available teleconferencing platforms. While many were there before the start of 2020, the solutions they provide to all users were nowhere near as seamless or integrated into daily operations as they are now. The teleconference solution companies have gone through a pandemic revitalization, similar to the workforce they endeavor to support.

In the confusion brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, one thing has been made clear – we need to be as prepared as possible to connect with people via technology. For many of us, especially those who work with older adults of advanced age and people with disabilities, this need is further complicated by the challenge to find suitable and sustainable technology solutions. As practicing attorneys, we need technological options that can, at a minimum, support both our external and internal communications on a daily basis. 

Remote work ecosystems find many attorneys and their support staff taking actions that have never been considered before, and in the context of time-sensitive matters. These days, you may have to meet with support staff, clients, potential clients, and your professional network via teleconference solutions. Although teleconferencing options are there and available, you, or many of those you need to interact with, may still harbor strong resistance to this change. The fact of the matter, however, is that the need for teleconferencing is not going away. Further, the usefulness of it may be the key difference in maintaining a successful – or unsuccessful, practice.

The post-pandemic landscape provides a variety of readily available teleconferencing platforms. While many were there before the start of 2020, the solutions they provide to all users were nowhere near as seamless or integrated into daily operations as they are now. The teleconference solution companies have gone through a pandemic revitalization, similar to the workforce they endeavor to support.

In short, there is no one-size-fits-all platform. You and your firm will need to explore your available options if you have not done so already. Many videoconference solutions are still providing free usage, or usage with limitations, through the end of September 2020. Through a free usage period or a trial period, you can get a feel for the different platforms and to ultimately determine which works best for you and your law firm. 

Zoom, Meet, and GoToMeeting
What should you look for? How do you choose a platform? What are other firms using? These are three questions I am asked on a weekly, if not daily basis. I can tell you the big three sustainable teleconference solutions include Zoom, Meet (formerly Google Hangouts), and GoToMeeting. Let us take a moment to go over some of the finer points of the big teleconference solutions.

1. Zoom
Zoom has become popular in part because, from a user standpoint, Zoom is incredibly easy to use. This is especially true from the client or potential client perspective. Gone are the extensive logins. Gone are the multi-access levels of accessing the meeting. Now, a meeting attendee may click a button and have immediate meeting usage. Security concerns were, for the most part, eliminated by the May and June 2020 updates. As of the writing of this article, Zoom offers a free meeting service for meetings up to 40 minutes in length.

Further, for additional help, Zoom has a chat feature that has educated support representatives per the nation that you are in. That means, for the United States, they have designated representatives available to answer your questions 24/7. When singed into your account, you can see meetings you have coming up, as well as past meetings. For enhanced security and privacy concerns, you may also establish a meeting password to ensure that you always know who you are meeting with.

Another potentially useful feature on Zoom is the option to designate an Alternative Host. This can be helpful for you, and for your team specifically. The feature allows you to talk privately with team members, and on another level, without your attendees. You can also have a support staff member start the meeting and engage the potential or existing client prior to your entry. Additionally, Zoom is working on a feature that will allow you to send out all of your reminder emails and pre-hire emails to your clients through Zoom itself.

2. Meet
Formerly known as Google Chat or Google Hangouts, Meet is Google’s communication video conferencing tool. It is free and, in many ways, as seamless as Zoom itself. While it may still require a meeting password, new integrations allow you to send a confirmation email and reminders from your Google Calendar, and to invite your potential or existing clients directly from the calendar link.

There are, however, brand considerations as well. The originator of a meeting must have a Gmail account, but the person you are meeting with does not. Further, one of Meet’s benefits is the robust chat feature that has been developed and can now send documents, PowerPoint files and handouts to meeting attendees. The support is also 24/7 and is staffed by region.

3. GoToMeeting
GoToMeeting is part of the LogMeIn family. GoToMeeting, GoToWebinar, LogMeIn, and GoToMyPC all fall under the LogMeIn family heading. As early as April 2020, it has been named the GoToFamily. For those of you who want an integrated VOIP phone system with video conferencing options as well, Jive has now joined the LogMeIn family and is rebranded as GoToConnect. This specific phone option works with GoToMeeting and is integrated to sync with many of the available law practice management software offerings, including Clio. Further, GoToMeeting remains a stable platform for live or recorded presentations as it is one of the most experienced in the business.

There are many useful features of GoToMeeting. For example, it now has a feature similar to that available on Zoom, where you can have a breakout room. This means that you can have side conversations when multiple parties are involved in the meeting. It sets up a secondary, tertiary or quadruple meeting (and so on) within one meeting. Another helpful feature enables you to load documentation from your control panel, in advance. Although this is becoming a part of all of the platforms mentioned here, this means you that you can load your retainer agreement in advance for potential clients to review prior to your meeting.

Sound confusing? Or exactly what you need? Maybe a blend of both? You are not alone. The world of technology continues to expand more rapidly than ever in light of the continued and evolving needs of successful businesses turning to remote work ecosystems. Know that there is no one solution, and that this is not an exhaustive list, but taking the time to find what you need and learning to use it effectively is the key.
About the Author
Audrey Ehrhardt, Esq., CBC, is the Founder/CEO of Practice42, building successful law practices nationwide. Learn more www.Practice42.com.