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At first glance, communications may seem like a bygone problem for lawyers today. Haven’t smartphones made it easier to stay in constant contact with your clients?
It’s true that smartphones offer you more mobility and instant, real-time communication via text messaging, but those tools alone are relatively one-dimensional. They may foster contact, but they limit comprehensive engagement, as they lack the abilities to easily archive and organize client calls and voicemail messages or handle faxes.
Documents and verbal communication are a lawyer’s stock-in-trade. Fortunately, phone systems now offer lawyers better ways to “talk” to their clients and work remotely even while they’re on the go.
Instead of relegating your operations to the office, invest in technologies that can make you operational (and conveniently so) while traveling anywhere in the world. Here are a few technologies to consider.
Voicemail has long been a lawyer’s friend, even if, for much of its history, it wasn’t more than a digital version of the 1970s answering machine. But today’s voicemail has been updated to a more intelligent and comprehensive communications management system.
First, you can use preset rules to manage and change how voicemails function during a particular time or day, accommodating busy and often volatile schedules. And voicemail-to-email tools offer new possibilities for documenting messages, as they funnel messages directly to an email inbox as attached audio files. There are even services such as Phone.com, press8 telecom and eVoice that can securely transcribe these files, converting sound to text and giving users the ability to search and index communications or excerpt statements that can be shared with other parties.
Even in the office, voicemail technology transforms your ability to document and use client communications by serving as call recording. Taking witness statements over the phone can be an integral part of moving a case forward, particularly because calls can be annotated for both what was said and how it was said.
Beyond voicemail, accessing faxes (and physical documents in general) represents a special problem when traveling, if for no other reason than such materials are still essential to doing business in the legal sector. Now, however, instead of waiting by that clunky machine or carrying home paperwork (and the security risks that go with transference), faxes can be sent and received directly on your smartphone through an online fax service that converts those faxes into emails. Popular fax-to-email services include Park My Fax and Fax.com.
Moreover, these documents can then be entered into the “digital paper trail” by being securely stored and integrated into the cloud, providing a seamless and always-available cache of valuable client communication in which updates and backups are automatic and documented. Billable hours can be automatically tracked and pushed to invoices through the cloud as well.
Regardless of how much time you spend traveling and how many tools you use to improve your efficiency, sometimes your communications demands suddenly override your response capacity. A good example of this is lawyers who represent class-action lawsuits, in which potentially thousands of clients are activated over a short time.
Digitally-based phone technology can get you set up and help you meet these demands quickly and effectively. Because it doesn’t require hardware, it offers additional phone lines and the ability to record calls from them in a scalable way to attorneys who need them.
From voicemail to faxes, upgrading to a modern digital communications strategy is easier now than ever. The world moves quickly, and as we’ve seen, is becoming increasingly boundless — so your practice should, too.
Ari Rabban is the CEO of Phone.com and a veteran of the IP communications industry. Phone.com’s virtual phone service builds on the digital VoIP industry experience of its founders to deliver a complete suite of enterprise-grade unified communication services at an SMB price. Ari was named among the Top 20 Most Influential People in VoIP 2012 and currently serves on several boards, including the New Jersey Tech Council. You can follow him on Twitter @arabban.
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