Business in the COVID-19 age is rapidly becoming reliant on remote work and telecommunications. But a silver lining in these isolating times is the abundance of video conferencing tools available to keep us all in touch. Video conferencing is an excellent tool for balancing business-as-usual with social distancing—particularly for law firms that are new to remote work.
Although many may all be out of the office, that doesn’t mean case preparations need to also shutter. For law firms, video conferencing is a useful replacement for face-to-face meetings, especially when communicating with experts. To keep casework moving uninterrupted, we’ve rounded up the top video conferencing tools for successful remote communications.
Microsoft Teams is the video conferencing product within Office 365. The platform offers collaboration tools, meeting recording with automatic transcription, and an audio conferencing option with a global dial-in number. It’s also fully integrated with the Office 365 suite, meaning simple scheduling through the Teams app or Outlook. This is a paid service with competitive monthly pricing, however, through the COVID-19 crisis, Microsoft is offering the Teams product for free.
For firms using the Office 365 suite, Teams is a fully integrated and simple option to include video conferencing into the remote workflow.
Google Hangouts Meet
Google Hangouts Meet is the video conferencing service offered within Google’s suite of products. If your firm is already using Gmail, Hangouts Meet is integrated into Google Calendar. With one click, you can add video conferencing to any calendar event, making scheduling video meetings a breeze. Hangouts Meet is available for free with personal Gmail accounts and competitively priced through Gsuite Business packages.
If your firm is already using Gmail, Hangouts Meet might be your most seamless option.
Zoom offers a user-friendly video conference interface, which is especially useful for an attorney or expert not familiar with video calls. Before joining their first video call, users are prompted to download the Zoom app. Zoom also integrates with other software your firm may be using, such as Outlook, Chrome, or Office 365. Zoom includes chat tools, virtual hand raising, and screen sharing capabilities. The application is available in both free and paid versions.
Zoom’s intuitive interface is a great choice for firms new to video conferencing technology.
Lifesize is a cloud-based video conferencing service. Lifesize’s product has a distinct focus on privacy and they offer encrypted end-to-end calling by default. This capability is an important feature for firms sharing particularly sensitive case information with experts. Their video conferencing also includes tools such as screen sharing, unlimited meeting guests, and streaming and recording options.
This is a paid service with competitive monthly rates. However, in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, Lifesize has extended its free trial period to six months of unlimited service.
GoToMeeting is a video conferencing service by software company, LogMeIn. It is a paid service with a few pricing tiers, depending on the number of employees at your firm. It is a feature-filled video experience. The service supports information sharing and documentation of every expert meeting. GoToMeeting includes screen sharing, cloud recording, drawing tools, and a Smart Meeting Assistant to automatically share transcripts of your meetings. GoToMeeting also offers integrations with software such as Outlooks, Office 365, and Google Calendar.
If your firm anticipates heavy usage for collaborative work, GoToMeeting is a great choice for their abundance of team-friendly tools.
WebEx is the video conferencing service from software company, Cisco. WebEx offers a free version with capabilities for up to 100 participants per meeting. WebEx also offers a paid version which includes features aimed at teams of any size at competitive monthly rates. The free version includes collaboration tools, 1 GB of cloud storage, and Q&A and polling tools. The paid version offers additional cloud storage, increased administrative controls, and meeting recordings and transcripts.
For larger firms where any number of expert calls are happening in a day, administrative controls, meeting recordings, and meeting transcripts could be valuable organizational tools.
As the name would suggest, FreeConference offers a free video conferencing service. Though there are paid tiers with additional features, the free version includes video calls for up to five participants, screen sharing, chat, and document sharing tools. The paid version includes toll-free dial-in numbers for users in the United States, Canada, Germany, Australia, Singapore, and the United Kingdom.
If your firm often communicates with international experts or clients, FreeConference could be especially valuable.
BlueJeans is another video conferencing option with a robust set of collaboration tools included. It’s a paid service with competitive pricing, though their bundles and group discounts are probably more geared towards larger firms. BlueJean’s service is particularly focused on productivity with its Smart Meetings product which can capture important meeting topics, assign action items, and replay meeting highlights. Also, in line with its competitor services, BlueJeans offers screen sharing, meeting recording, and integrations with other common business software platforms.
BlueJeans’ Smart Meetings product could be especially helpful for in-depth discussions with experts going over complex case details and document sharing.
Skype is one of the most well known and used video calling services. It’s a fully free service available through a web browser or through their downloadable app. It doesn’t have the advanced collaboration capabilities as other video calling software on the marketing but does allow for screen sharing, background blurring, and call recording.
Skype may not have the same bells and whistles as their competitors, but for simple and reliable video meetings, this is a solid, and free, option.
Facetime is Apple’s video calling service and is only available on Apple products with iOS operating systems. This includes Mac desktops, laptops, iPhones, and iPads. It’s a totally free feature included with any Apple device but the limitation is that both call participants must be on an Apple device.
Though this is not likely a firm-wide solution, Facetime can be a useful tool for one-on-one calls with an expert in transit or a colleague who is not able to access their laptop.