Video conferencing, video hearings, virtual meetings, and virtual depositions have now become a fundamental part of the Modern Lawyer’s practice. Currently, and likely going forward, a lawyer cannot simply be comfortable with using video conferencing technology, they must be able to offer use of their own—and know how to use it. Our Video Conferencing for Lawyers portal discusses the basics of these platforms, digs into the differences between the offerings, and offers a way to approach choosing which platform your office needs.
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Basics of Video Conferencing Platforms for Lawyers
Before we can get into a major discussion about the differences in Video Conferencing platforms, we must cover a few basic concepts like hosting, sharing files, sharing screens, and common functions.
There are a lot of Video Conferencing products out there that operate in somewhat different ways. However, the basic idea is that one user must “Host” the meeting while other users can simply be participants. This Host has control of the meeting, and, usually, must furnish the licensing to the software being used. On the other hand participants are generally allowed to have a free version of the associated application the Host is running, or simply join the meeting through their web browser (i.e. Chrome, Safari, Microsoft Edge).
The simplest manifestation of a video conference is two parties sharing audio and video of themselves in real time in order to have a conversation. However, presenting and screen sharing is one of the largest reasons one would opt for a video conference over a classic phone call.
Screen-sharing is where one party, usually the Host, allows all the other participants to view the presenter’s computer screen. If you’ve ever attended a virtual CLE, you have likely seen this in action. Although most video conferencing platforms will allow this, there are still a few common ones that won’t, for example, it is unwieldy to share your screen in a FaceTime call.
For attorneys, the ability to share files during a video conference is near imperative—especially during a virtual hearing. Like screen-sharing, not every platform offers the ability to do this, but most do. Generally, a lawyer’s concern with file sharing is whether or not the connection is encrypted, and whether the platform allows for confidential sharing (when necessary).
- Video on/off
- Audio on/off
- Virtual Background
Advanced Considerations for Lawyers
Encryption & Security
For many reasons, most of which we go into in our Data Security resource page, lawyers should be wary of platforms that do not offer end-to-end-encryption (E2EE). In short, non-E2EE platforms allow for the possibility that a third-party will have easy access to the contents of your conversations, or at least sensitive client data. When communicating with clients, lawyers should only be using fully encrypted methods.
With most platforms, participants may share text-based messages with each other. Which can allow users to make side commentary, share URLs, or even ask questions of the speaker. However, unless explicitly told otherwise, one should always consider these chats to be public conversations. On many platforms, even private messages are shared with the Host after the meeting.
How to Choose a Platform
Assess Your Needs
Before you can make an educated decision about which video conferencing platform your law office needs, you’ll want to determine what you’re going to use the software for. Not everyone needs complex hosting functionality. Some considerations you may want to weigh:
- Are you planning on meeting with clients using this platform?
- Will you be hosting web conferences?
- Are you simply using this for internal purposes?
- Will this be a way for you to record video tutorials for your office?
- Do you need to securely transfer files?
- Should this integrate with other software you already have?
Read through our video conferencing platform reviews and determine what software appears to meet your needs. Compare the features lists and try to filter the products to two or three that will work for your purposes.
Test Different Products
Once you have filtered the list down, test the different products in an environment that you will be using them. If you’ll be using these for client meetings, simulate an outside party joining your meeting, if you want to perform web conferences, simulate sharing your presentation with multiple people. Most of the products that we review have some sort of free tier that can help you get an idea of how it will work for you.
Video Conferencing for Lawyers (Alphabetical List)
Filter by Feature
- Review of Legaler, a video conferencing and virtual office platform built for lawyers with security and usability first. Learn more about Legaler.
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Video Conferencing for Lawyers Feature Descriptions
Core Features. Core features are those that are fundamental to the use of the application
Meeting Recordings. Can the parties record their video conferences?
File Sharing. Will the platform all users to send files back and forth to other users?
Additional Features. Some video conferencing platforms have features that go beyond the basics required to facilitate a simple video call between two parties. Although the features below may be necessary for some users, they are not specifically required by all.
Webinar. Will the platform allow users to live-broadcast their video feed to other participants and limit the video interaction of those users?
Meeting Rooms. Does the platform allow for user groups to simultaneously go into separate video meeting rooms while still maintaining the unified meeting?
Polls. Will the platform allow the host to post questions to the other users as polls?
Virtual Background. Will the platform allow users to select a photo or video and display it as the background of their video?