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Lawyers work from anywhere these days… the office, home, and on the road. Unfortunately most law firm’s phone systems haven’t kept pace with that flexibility, which has forced lawyers to use their personal mobile numbers to stay in touch with clients and colleagues. However, some lawyers want to keep their mobile number private, and no one wants to manage messages in two different voicemail systems (ie. their office phone and their mobile phone).
The solution is to use a softphone, which is a mobile app that enables you to send and receive phone calls using your work number, but on your smartphone. Many softphone apps can also be used from a computer with a USB headset attached. One problem with softphone apps is that many of them are unreliable. Another problem is that softphone apps can be an additional cost.
I’ve found that the best softphone app is Microsoft Teams, which comes free with most Microsoft 365 subscriptions. Teams is intended by Microsoft to be the central hub for all communications within a 365-based network, and integrates with the other Microsoft Office applications. Many law firms already use Teams for videoconferencing and instant messaging, but don’t realize that it includes phone functionality. Teams can easily be used out of the box for internal phone calls, but to be really useful, it needs to be integrated with an existing VoIP phone system.
Once Teams is integrated with an existing VoIP system, a law firm has the best of both worlds. Lawyers can use their traditional deskphone while in the office, and stay connected using the Teams softphone while working from home or on the road. And once a firm gets comfortable with using Teams and a USB headset to make phone calls from a computer, they may decide they no longer need traditional deskphones at all.