Many law firms are quickly looking to incorporate video conferences into their law practice. No matter whether it is communicating with clients, potential clients, internally within the firm or for recruiting purposes, video conference software can help. However, many lawyers and law firms do not know what software they should use.
The reality is that there is countless software out there that lawyers and law firms might think consider. However, below are some of the most well-known options:
- Zoom: Zoom is one of the most popular video conference options out there. It is easy to use and available for almost every device on the market. For most users, the features offered in a free account are more than enough for video conferencing from 2 to 100 or more connections. One of the most highly touted features includes the ability to share and record video from calls. Zoom has become increasingly popular on a wide-scale basis, but there are security concerns that cause some red flags.
- Google Hangouts: If an individual has a Gmail account, they have free access to Google Hangouts. Google Hangouts allows users to share documents, their screen, and images. Similar to the video calls in the free, consumer version of Hangouts, Google Hangouts Meet offers more features. For example, similar to Zoom, a user can join from a device to talk to up to 250 participants (and 100,000 live stream viewers). If an individual has a paid GSuite account, G Suite’s Enterprise edition also creates a dial-in phone number for each meeting so that others can join the meeting. Although Google Hangouts Meet video is encrypted in transit between your device and Google’s servers, it does not have end-to-end encryption. The lack of end-to-end encryption is a cause for some concern.
- GoToMeeting: This is an excellent video conferencing option. It can be used with several co-workers, with a potential client or it can support meetings of up to 150 people. It works with both Windows and Mac computers and most smartphones. For meetings within a law firm, this is a great option. GoToMeeting provides true end-to-end data security that addresses both passive and active attacks against confidentiality. The security features are a plus for GoToMeeting.
- Skype: Skype has been around for a long time. There is a free version of Skype where an individual can video conference and talk to up to 50 people. For those who have the free version of Skype, they can video conference from any device and speak with up to 50 people. Further, for those with Microsoft Office 365, they have a professional version online. With the professional versions, individuals can use Microsoft’s professional online meeting solution called Microsoft Teams. Microsoft Teams has now replaced Skype for Business Online. Microsoft Teams allows individuals to talk up to 250 people via instant messaging, video conferencing, calling and sharing screen and files. Importantly, Skype and Teams also have end-to-end encryption.
- FaceTime: For those with Apple devices, FaceTime is a great option. Apple’s video (and audio) conferencing app is end-to-end encrypted. Additionally, it is straightforward to use and allows for up to 32 participants. The downside is that it does not work for those who are not MAC or Apple users. Thus, those with Androids and PC cannot use it.
- Webex: WebexMeetings is Cisco’s cloud-based web and video conferencing service that enables global and virtual teams to collaborate on mobile devices and standards-based video systems in real-time. Webex Meetings includes features such as screen sharing, meeting recording, customizable layouts and meeting broadcasting. Webex also offers end-to-end encryption, but one of the criticisms is that it isn’t the most straightforward interface.
- Join.me: With join.me’s video conferencing and screen sharing capabilities, individuals can maintain productivity with instant, reliable face-to-face video and audio conferencing on any device much like some of the options listed above. With a paid account, law firms can also create their own branded page with a custom URL with their background or logo. Join.me is protected with 256-bit TLS encryption. The level of encryption means that data is stored as securely as a bank, but join.me does not store it.
Apart from the above options, there are numerous other video conferencing applications out there that law firms may consider. The applications listed above are not all-inclusive, but some of the more popular ones. Other software that lawyers might consider are Zoho Meeting, WhatsApp, Jitsi, Amazon Chime, FreeConferenceCall.com, UberConference and ClickMeeting just to name some.
Some law firms might also decide to utilize multiple video conferencing software solutions. One could be used for internal video conferences within the law firm amongst lawyers and law firm staff. The other could be used for clients and potential clients. A third could be used for court appearances. A fourth could even be used for recruiting. Apart from the difference in the features the various software offers (which may make them better for internal meetings, meetings with clients/potential clients or litigation), utilizing various software could also help avoid any confusion within the law firm.
With many of the video software programs, invitations links are sent by email to the participants. Multiple members of the law firm also have to log in to initiate these meetings. For larger law firms in particular, where there might be many meetings set in a single day, it is easy to foresee confusion and potential problems if the same software is used for internal meetings, external meetings and litigation.
For this reason, the multi-software approach is something many law firms should consider. Again, the various features of the video conferencing software can make this a reasonable approach. It can also help avoid confusion and protect confidentiality.
If you have any thoughts, feel free to share them below.