Why Lawyers Should Use Skype on an iPhone


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You can now constantly run Skype in the background because of the iPhone iOS 4’s multitasking system. While I recently wrote that lawyers do not need the iPhone 4, if you can afford the new phone, or have an iPhone 3GS, consider using Skype as your office phone.

Skype is cheap

Skype costs $2.99/month for unlimited calls. Recently, the company announced that using Skype over AT&T’s 3G network will not result in an additional user fee (they previously said it would).

In other words, if you are paying for a data plan on an iPhone, you can now use that data usage to cover Skype. That means you can have a personal number, and a Skype number as your business number, on the same phone. Google Voice is great, but it also uses your actual minutes. Skype over 3G does not.

The advantage to using Skype as your number, versus using a mobile number for your business, is that you can use Skype from your computer, from your home computer, or you can even buy a handset. It is cheap, and you can access the number from a variety of devices.

Skype can now constantly run in the background

Without the multitasking of iOS 4, Skype is severely handicapped. You can still use it on an iPhone, but you cannot use any other application simultaneously. If you are making the most of your iPhone, you can use it for more than phone calls, and not being able to multitask does limit the utility.

With iOS4, however, Skype can always be in the background. When you get an incoming call, a little dialog box pops up to let you know. That means you can be reading or sending email, and still get notified when a call is coming in.

You can multitask on the iPhone 4 and iPhone 3GS

Given the possible reception issues (which appear to have been remedied), you might be leery of the iPhone 4. For lawyer purposes, I am still debating whether I think the new iPhone is worth the upgrade price. That aside, you can multitask and the iPhone 3GS as well.


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  • Tim

    Hello gurus-

    I’m new here but love this site. I have a nagging question. I am going to be using a virtual receptionist. My understanding is that I will need 2 phone numbers. One that clients call (i.e. the Office #), which I set to automatically forward to the virtual receptionist. Then, a second number that the receptionist can forward all intake calls that she’s fielded from #1.

    I’m especially interested about using Skype as a main phone line for my practice (but a little apprehensive). Can someone explain how I might be able to incorporate skype into the above scenario, so that I can avoid having to pay for 2 separate phone lines each month? Thanks very much and I look forward to reading more from you guys and the editors here at Lawyerist.

  • Bill

    $2.99 per month? Meaning I can dial any number in the U.S. for no additional money other than the $2.99 per month, or it’s $2.99 per for the service and then 1 or 2 cents per minute for Skype calls to non-Skype numbers?

    • The first. It’s just $2.99/month for unlimited calls.

  • Haz

    I would be interested in learning the answer to Tim’s question. Tim, are you contemplating using Ruby Receptionists?

  • Randall Ryder

    I am not clear on what Tim’s question is. For an iPhone, if you have Skype, you would have two numbers: your AT&T number, and your Skype number.

    If you want to use a virtual receptionist with Skype, it is probably easiest to have two Skype numbers (which would cost $6 a month, still way cheaper than a traditional landline). Your receptionist can answer the main business number (a Skype number), and then you can use a different Skype number for calling clients.

    In theory, you could both use the same Skype number, but then your phone is going to ring every time, which defeats the point of having a receptionist handle that.

  • I recently started a solo bankruptcy practice. I’m leasing space from a friend with a thriving personal injury practice and a staff of seemingly thousands. I use Google Voice which is set to ring both my iPhone and the PI firm’s main phone line simultaneously.

    Because Google Voice presents a specific caller ID to the receptionist, she can see instantly that it’s not a PI client, and she answers with a cheery “Tulsa Bankruptcy and Consumer Law, how may I help you?”

    Then she intercoms me in my office on the next floor. If I’m there and want to, I take the call. If not, she sends my an email which goes to my phone.

    I’m loving it. Google Voice can be set to control how the call gets routed (for example, my family and friends can skip the receptionist and ring only my iPhone.

    Solo nirvana.

  • Larry Rose

    Sam, this might not be a bad LAB topic. How to set up a small firm using Skype and/or GoogleVoice as your firm’s phone platform.


  • Good point. I’ll share my setup with LAB members, but we’ll add it to the agenda for an upcoming office hour.

  • Larry Rose

    That would be great, Sam. Sharing the setup would be very helpful.