By Jennifer Ramovs
Do you use web meetings to meet with clients? Read on to see why it might be a good time to start.
It is pretty likely that you have attended a "webinar" recently, either to remotely attend a CLE seminar or to obtain training of some sort. While webinars have introduced most of us to the idea of attending a seminar from the comfort of our own office (or couch, for that matter!), it's a good idea to think about using the same technology for meetings with clients, co-workers, and colleagues.
A web meeting is simply a live meeting held over the internet. As a meeting organizer, you must first select an online meeting provider. There are a bunch of them out there and PracticeHQ has a great comparison chart of all of them, which is available at https://www.affinityconsulting.com/comparewebmeetings/. Once you have your provider in place, you can create a meeting, invite participants, and provide them with a link that will connect them to the meeting. The meeting is displayed on the computer screen (maybe with a shared PowerPoint or other presentation), and the audio portion is either transmitted simultaneously over the telephone or by using the computer's microphone and speakers.
While web meetings can be real efficiency boosters, remember that there is no substitute for an initial, face-to-face meeting with clients to help build your relationship. As the case goes on and you have developed a relationship with the client, web meetings can make scheduling easier, save time on travel, and even provide you with additional meeting options like recording. If seeing a face during a meeting is important to you, look for service providers that offer integration with your computer's web cam. Just make sure to remind everyone that the camera is rolling!
Why you should try it
Whether you are trying to schedule a call with your client to go over discovery responses, meet with your associate who is out of town preparing for a trial, or trying to work collaboratively with opposing counsel on a settlement agreement, sometimes a remote meeting can be exactly what you need. It makes room for the spontaneous meeting between people in different locations and enables larger groups to find agreeable times because they can attend the meeting from anywhere they have an internet connection.
Let's say your client receives some bad news about their case, and you really need to go over the last communication you have from opposing counsel with them. They can't get to your office and you can't get to them until next week. But if you both have time right now, you could jump on a web meeting, share your screen, bring up the letter that opposing counsel sent, and go over it together. This helps improve communication and since you don't have to wait days or weeks to set up a live meeting, you are able to jump on an issue with the right people the moment it comes up.
Trying to have a virtual office, and reduce overhead costs? Web meetings will be a critical component of that transition. Want to hire an associate who lives down state but are not sure how you will be able to collaborate? Web meetings.
If you are not sure whether web meetings are for you, try one of the providers that offer a free version. And if you decide web meetings are a good fit, review the feature comparison chart on PracticeHQ (see link above) and figure out which features matter to you. From things like whether they offer a toll-free number for audio to recording capabilities and more, make sure you know what you need and what is out there so you get the best fit. Remember, your PracticeHQ has just what you need to get started!
Jennifer Ramovs, ESQ., is director of practice management for Affinity Consulting Group.