The hunt for tools that will help people be more productive is one every business engages with, and law firms are no exception. On the face of it, videoconferencing is a match made in heaven for law firms; practicing law involves a lot of discussions, so anything that facilitates more effective or efficient dialogue between multiple stakeholders seems like a no-brainer.
However, until recently many law firms have been reluctant to embrace the obvious advantages of videoconferencing. This has been due to a number of factors, including the understandably cautious nature of law firms unwilling to replace traditional work practices with something new without first-hand proof of its value.
In tandem with technical developments bringing a drop in cost and improved video quality, there has been a general move towards accepting video use in the workplace. People have become familiar with video calling in their private lives with various internet video platforms over the last decade or so, and those habits are starting to trickle through to the workplace. Many companies and employees now expect, or hope for video calls or meetings.
Even if law firms aren’t usually thought of as “early adopters” of the latest technology or other trends, they will almost certainly run into clients or other external groups who will view a resistance to video as unnecessarily anachronistic.
So if you need to make the case for implementing video into your practice, here’s our quick guide to the top five things you should investigate to make sure your firm comes to the correct verdict:
1. Make sure you choose a system that easily connects your firm to the outside world
As a law firm, you need to communicate with external parties as much as with people within your own organization. Other law firms, clients, the courthouse, these all means people using different technology, devices, and video platforms. Lots of video platforms struggle to resolve all these different factors to allow people to easily join together in a video meeting. So you need to be sure the videoconferencing service you select makes it as easy for external guests, using any number of combinations of devices and video platforms, to join a meeting as it is for your internal teams on the same network. Even just a few minutes at the start of a meeting trying to figure out why a user can’t connect, can really impact on the productivity of a meeting.
2. Think about what your specific uses for videoconferencing will be
There are countless ways that video can be used to save time, or make processes more productive, but think about the specific ways video could help your firm, rather than just thinking “it can just replace telephone conferences with clients or other firms”. Some examples could be:
- Replacing travel between your firm’s different locations
- Being able to hold remote client meetings can increase billable hours for individual attorneys
- Some video services can offer recording services so depositions can be done via video and reduce the need for attorneys to travel or wait for witnesses to be free to travel
- Recording can also be used for on the job training and education as courses and seminars can be held with participants in multiple locations at the same time
- Encouraging better collaboration and developing shared culture between different offices as teams can speak face to face more often
- Increase your talent pool as you can interview people over a wider geographical area
3. Choose a system people are confident with and find easy to use
Some videoconferencing systems of the past could be unwieldy to use, whilst some consumer video platforms that your teams may have encountered don’t offer a level of performance people might trust in a professional setting. Asking people to use a tool with external parties they’re not entirely confident with is likely to meet resistance, as people will prefer to stick to what they know. There are two simple strategies to solve this dilemma:
- Choose a solution you can trial first before committing to a solution
- Hold some internal meetings using the video service before rolling it out to meetings with other stakeholders. This way your teams can see it in action and get used to it before being expected to run critical communications on the tool.
A good opportunity to do this is to run a training meeting on video to explain the service and how it works to people, rather than just emailing out login details and hoping people figure it out for themselves.
4. Make sure everybody understands and masters content sharing
Videoconferencing is not just about making other people more visible in meetings. One of the most useful features for law firms is being able to share content during the course of a meeting. The ability to discuss, review, and edit documents such as contracts and witness statements is invaluable in trying to make your teams more responsive and productive. Rather than building up a cumbersome email thread going back and forth, with all the time waiting for responses, you can just get everyone together with the document in front of them and get the answers everybody needs quicker.
5. Think about security
Of course you should go ahead and select a video service with encrypted calls, but beyond this, there should be traditional conference features you can add to your meetings to make them go as they should. Conference codes and PIN numbers should be familiar to most firms who’ve used telephone conferencing before. Also, you should make sure you have the ability to “lock” a meeting room once all parties are present people entering the wrong room by accident, or if an appointment runs over time. If you have a corporate firewall you need to look for a solution that will allow you to make external calls from behind the firewall so that you can easily connect with outside networks in a safe manner.
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