As Google+ gains traction among attorneys, its Hangouts service is also becoming a popular and useful tool among attorneys. Google Hangouts is a free online videoconferencing service, similar to Skype, but on steroids. Hangouts are more than the sharing of emoji and adorning your online image with funny hats and mustaches while in conference (although always humorous). As the service has developed, it has become a real business collaboration tool. As long as Google maintains this service, it could be a real boon for law firms, particularly for solo and small firm practitioners on a budget. So, let’s take a look at how attorneys can take advantage of Google Hangouts.
- Client Meetings. You can videoconference with clients online with Hangouts. Video, of course, provides a more personalized touch than a simple phone call. Clients love that sort of thing. For attorneys who spend time away from their offices, using Hangouts to conference with clients while on the road is a great option. If you are concerned with client confidentiality, Google boasts security features such as the use of https and encryption of video and audio. Further, Google claims that information shared in Hangouts is never saved and stored by Google.
- Multi-Person Collaboration. You can conference with up to ten people via Hangouts. Participants may tune in with their device of choice: computer, tablet, or phone. One particularly valuable feature for attorneys is the ability to share your screen and collaborate on documents with others in real time.
- Marketing. You can host a live-stream seminar with Google Hangouts on Air for referral sources, clients, and potential clients. There are a variety of options for your “on Air” session, including participant video and audio control, live chat, and more. For future viewing, you can record and save your seminar with YouTube to post directly your YouTube channel.
But, that’s just the tip of the iceberg. With Google+ Hangouts API, Google supports development of collaborative apps that provide additional functionality to Hangouts. For example, rather than guess who is speaking, with Hangout Toolbox you can add your name, title, and logo to the bottom of your screen. Recently, through an integration with UberConference, it is now possible for participants to join Hangout audio from a phone. On the horizon are additional business-focused tools such as one by Vidyo that will bridge Hangouts with existing business videoconferencing hardware. As Hangouts continue to develop for business use, it is likely that we will see increased use of Hangouts in the legal industry. So, get on the bandwagon today and give it a try!