Voice over IP (VoIP) is an alternative method for sending and receiving telephone calls that allows law firms more flexibility, and a higher level of security in their phone systems. By utilizing your existing internet connection to carry their telephone information, you can untether your firm from many of the strict physical requirements of traditional telephone systems.
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Basics of VoIP for Lawyers
The main benefit to VoIP telephone service is that your phone system is not physically connected to a specific place like traditional office phones. Additionally, each phone in your “office” is connected through the internet rather than the telephone lines of your office. To make this happen, the system utilizes the specific and unique IP address of your device to connect phone calls to your computer, a VoIP enabled phone, or even your mobile device.
Although most of the VoIP system will not work without an internet connection, a savvy user can set-up fail-safes (like call forwarding, and call-routing) that will allow your office to function, generally, even if you lose internet connection. As an aside, if your office loses its internet connection, it is unlikely that you will be able to do much even if you can answer the phones.
VoIP services are becoming increasingly common for lawyers, especially solo practitioners and firms with effective remote practices. Although it can be difficult to determine whether your firm is ready to make the switch, the trend is moving toward all phone systems running over VoIP. So, it’s less a question of if you switch to VoIP, as it is when.
How to Choose VoIP for Lawyers
Since choosing a VoIP provider is a base-level infrastructure question in your firm, it is not easy to test-out the service prior to switching. And it is impossible to get a “free trial”. Unless you’re setting-up your firm anew, you will need to port your existing number, transfer or migrate your saved and existing voice messages, create new outgoing messages, and possibly purchase new phones, among other things. This will take some time and planning. Below is what you should look for when determining what is right for your firm.
4 Steps in selecting a VoIP Provider for attorneys.
- Determine your law firm’s VoIP needs.
Look at what software you may want to integrate with, how many users you will have, and whether or not you need to work with a Virtual Receptionist Service (to name a few). Write this down in a list or a spreadsheet so you can compare products later.
- Assess the available features.
Read our Features Descriptions and discover what options you have when choosing a service. There may be more capabilities here than you are aware of.
- Research your options.
User our features filter to sort your available options, then read the relevant reviews. Dig into their website, or ask questions in a specific Facebook Group like Lawyerist’s Insiders.
- Try before you buy.
Finally, sign up for a trial account, or demo one or two likely software options, put them through their paces, and select the one that will work best for your firm.
VoIP Providers (Alphabetical List)
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Our 8x8 review. A VoIP solution with business texting and video conference capabilities for small to medium-sized law firms. Learn more about 8×8
Lawyerist's Corvum review. A VoIP solution and business texting service for small to medium-sized law firms that integrates with Clio. Learn more about Corvum
Lawyerist's RingCentral review. A VoIP solution with business texting and video conference capabilityes for small to medium-sized law firms. Learn more about RingCentral
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VoIP Providers Feature Descriptions
Core Voice Features. For VoIP providers, the following are essential Voice features, and you should therefore expect to see a check in every box in this section.
Number Porting. Are you able to transfer your existing numbers to the Provider?
Auto Attendant. Most Providers allow you to set-up a custom greeting and caller guide..
Call Recording. Does the Provider allow you to record phone calls?
Conference Calling. Are you able to make calls to multiple recipients at the same time?
Conference Room (Bridge). Can you host multiple-user call-in conference rooms?
Voicemail. Can users set-up their own personalized voicemail inboxes?
Intercom. Can you page other individuals on the VoIP system?
Paging. Can you make announcements to multiple users at the same time?
Presence Indicator. Will the system allow you to indicate whether team members are currently on another line?
HD Call Quality. Does the service provide constant HD quality?
Core Management Features. For VoIP providers, the following are essential Call Management features, and you should therefore expect to see a check in every box in this section.
Call Forwarding. Does the Provider allow you to forward your business phone number to your cell phone or other phone line?
Call Management. Is your frontdesk able to hold, route, forward, or even block calls, and can you manage those easily?
Caller ID. Does the Provider show the Caller ID of the incoming caller?
Call Parking. Otherwise known as "shared hold", Call Parking allows you to place a call on hold on one device and switch to another (like your cell phone) without losing the connection.
Call Transfer. Can users transfer calls from one extension directly to another?
Call Waiting. Does the Provider allow you to get notified of another call while you are currently on the line, and then switch back-and-forth between the two calls?
Custom Call Routing. Are you able to set-up automatic menu options for incoming calls?
Custom Schedules. Can you route/restrict calls based on the date and time you receive them?
Do Not Disturb. Can individual users set their incoming calls to go directly to VM, or route elsewhere?
Emergency Services. Are you able to associate particular addresses with extensions so the appropriate Emergency Services are notified when you call 911?
Extensions. Can you set up separate extensions for individual users, and use them to communicate internally?
E2E Encryption. Does the provider use true End-to-End Encryption for all calls and at all times?
Web App/Portal. Does the provider give you access to your information via a web application?
Visual Voicemail. Can you access and review your voicemail messages through an app or online account?
Voicemail-to-Email. Can you have voicemail messages transcribed to email?
Hot Desking. Does your user phone number and features follow you to different devices that you log into?
Ring Groups. Can you set-up specific groups to alert to incoming phone calls?
Business Alert. Will the provider alert you that a forwarded phone call is, in fact, forwarded prior to you answering the call?