Did you know that, according to U.S. News, 56% of Americans were “sometimes” or “always” working from home in January 2021? In April 2021, this percentage was even higher, hitting the percentage of 70%.
This was in large part in response to the COVID-19 Pandemic. The way businesses operate has changed significantly during this time, especially regarding communications.
For this reason, when it comes to choosing phone systems, law office managers need to think about what works best now.
If you’re looking for the right law phone system for your firm, it may be hard to know where to start.
How do you find a phone system that can accommodate law firm hierarchy, protect client data, and provide you with the best technology? It can be stressful to find the law office phone system because of all these requirements.
That’s why we’ve put together this article. In it, we’ll cover all the right tips to follow so you can choose the best phone system for your law office.
Finally, you can communicate with your clients and have the best technology possible. Read on to learn more.
Why Choosing Phone Systems is So Important
For a long time, law firms have operated within an infrastructure that has a strict hierarchy. This is the case for both physical locations as well as personnel. If you’ve ever looked at a law firm office, you’ll notice that the partners are physically at the top.
From where their offices are, the rest of the hierarchy radiates out. Within an office with this type of layout, using the right phone system technology and communication strategies has always been important.
This has always been the case, but it’s even more important now that law firms are operating during a pandemic.
Changes During the Pandemic
Despite the fact that so many businesses have gone out of business during this economically trying time, law firms have remained. This is because law firms are necessary for the successful operation of society and business.
When the pandemic began, the world shut down. Businesses operating out of traditional offices struggled—and law firms weren’t an exception to this.
However, humans are adaptable, so people started to slowly change their habits so that they would still be able to operate, even in this harsh environment.
People started to use Zoom, making it possible for lawyers to work from home. Soon, VoIP for law firms and hosted phone system technology were introduced as a solution. Before everyone knew it, communications were back to normal.
It’s fortunate that, with the phone system options and technology available today, businesses can operate normally with all their employees working from different locations. This has been especially important for law firms.
Why? Because every market has its own marketable commodity. The food, supermarket, department store, and the automotive industry, all have their own. The lawyer’s singular commodity is time.
The stock and trade of an attorney are billable hours. When a client walks into their office, they start charging. When a client calls them, they do this, too. The hours of research your paralegal puts in—your client pays for this, too.
Better attorneys charge more per hour. But how do you, as an attorney, bill for your hours in the middle of a pandemic? The only way this is possible is by using communications technology, whether this is with audio, video, or both.
This is where a law firm VoIP, or a hosted phone system, comes in. What wasn’t even possible to have five years ago, is now accessible with no upfront cost (or just a small amount).
It also has a monthly billing that’s similar to (or even less than) what you’d pay for a traditional phone system.
As a result, a law firm or lawyer can quickly and simply return to business as usual, using the Internet to host their calls and having everyone work remotely.
In this type of phone system environment, even the least technologically savvy lawyer can get back to business with everyone working from home, so that normal billing can return to normal.
With a solution like Metrodata Systems, lawyers can use the right type of system for their needs—hosting all their communications on the cloud without having to pay an upfront cost or fees.
Additionally, it’s usually cheaper than the system they’re already using. Finally, they’ll get complete failover and mobility.
Tips on Choosing Phone Systems for Law Offices
Now that we’ve reviewed why choosing a phone system for your law office is so important, we’ll go over some tips on how to choose a phone system for your law office. These include assessing your business, considering features, and more.
1. Do an Assessment of Your Business
First of all, you have to think about your business needs. Depending on what type of law firm you run, you might have different needs. Do you specialize in employment, divorce, or criminal law? Do your employees have to be constantly connected?
Are you running a large law firm, or do you need the best phone system for a small law office? By asking yourself these types of questions, you’ll start to understand what your needs are when it comes to a phone system.
This will help you move on to the next step, which is to…
2. Think About What Phone System Features You Need
Because there are so many phone systems available out there now, you need to think about which features are most important for running your law office. This way, you can decide which phone system is best for you.
Some features include voicemail to text, screening calls, and voicemail.
Others include access to schedules, instant messaging, and web calling for meetings hosted online. These features are especially important if you want all your employees to be connected at all times.
If keeping track of every communication is important for your law firm, then the more features you get that feature transcription and dictation into email—the easier it will be to use this type of technology.
3. Choose Between Landline Versus VoIP
Another big decision you have to make when choosing the right phone system for your law firm is whether you want a landline or a Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) type of phone system. Many businesses today use traditional landlines.
However, if you want to run a modern business, a landline probably isn’t the right choice. They’re outdated, using copper wiring. This means higher costs for long-distance calls and a reliance on the physical wiring itself.
If you want to save on your phone system budget, this doesn’t mean you have to use the older, traditional landline option. In fact, VoIP is quite affordable today.
This better option runs entirely online, making it possible for you to make cheap, long-distance calls easily, host multiple calls at once and connect your communications with your online processes.
At the end of the day, VoIP runs online, is easier to use, and is more cost-effective. So if you haven’t made the switch already, it’s worth considering.
4. Think About the Cost
Of course, you need to be able to afford the phone system you install for your law office. To do this, first set up a budget. How much additional money can you spend? Will you be able to afford additional costs, such as phone system maintenance?
Once you have a general idea of how much you can afford for your phone system, you can start looking at phone system providers that offer the features you think you need.
Then, you’ll have an idea of what the average cost you should pay is.
Next, put together a list of the companies you think offer reasonable rates. Then call them up and ask about the upfront cost, licensing fees, equipment costs, monthly fees, and installation costs.
The cost can vary significantly, depending on what your needs are and what features you need. But because you’ve budgeted beforehand, you know what phone system you can reasonably afford for your law office.
5. Consider Your Employees’ Needs
When choosing the right phone system, you need to think about how your employees plan on using the phone. Sure, you might want to use many different features. But do your employees need all of them?
This will help you determine which features are actually necessary for your office, and which ones would be nice to have. If you aren’t sure, send out a survey to your employees.
Ask questions like, “What communications tasks take you forever?” and “If there were one thing that would make your communications in the office easier, what would it be?”
Once you have the answers to these questions, you can take the most common answers to decide what features are needed.
6. Think About Maintenance Costs
No matter what type of phone system you choose, you will need to think about maintenance. However, with VoIP, the specific type of team you need more maintenance is an IT team. This is because this type of phone system is based online.
If you already have an IT team, then maintenance on this system shouldn’t be too costly.
However, if you don’t, then you have two choices: either hire an IT team or have the VoIP provider do maintenance for you.
Usually, it’s easier to simply have the VoIP provider do the maintenance. In this case, ask providers about whether they have a 24-hour line you can call if you suddenly come across an issue.
While these providers might charge slightly more, it will probably be worth paying this extra cost, since you don’t want your clients to have to wait to hear back from you.
7. Think About Future Growth
If you currently run a small law office with few needs, you might think that using a simple, traditional phone line might be a good idea. But what if your law firm becomes larger? The last thing you want is for your receptionist (and clients) to feel overwhelmed.
For this reason, it’s better to go with a VoIP system. Even if you have a few features at first, you can easily add more features. Because everything is stored in the cloud, you won’t have to buy additional space for storing data.
This is a far more flexible option, which makes it easier if your law firm grows in the future.
8. Consider Mobility
Even after the pandemic is over, many people will want to work from home. You might want to be able to connect from other devices, such as your tablet or phone, so you can keep working when you’re out of town or at home.
For this reason, choosing a phone system that makes mobility possible is incredibly important. Fortunately, VoIP phone systems make it easy to connect to your communications systems from any device, anywhere.
Need More Information?
Now that you’ve learned about the different tips you need to use when choosing phone systems for law offices, you might need more information. Maybe you want to learn about different phone system providers near you.
Or maybe you want help deciding what features will suit your law office best.
Whatever information you need, we can help. At MetroDataSystems, we’re experts when it comes to phone systems.
We can also have a service where we set you up with the right VoIP carrier for you. To learn more about how we can help you, contact us now.