Law Firm Phone System

What Law Firms Need to know before Choosing a Business Phone System

RingCentral v Line2 v Grasshopper

We previously discussed email as central to attorney communication. Today we're going to look at an older form of communication, telephones. More specifically, cloud-based business phone systems that you may be interested in for your law firm.

While the telephone seems relatively ancient, the industry has a few new tricks up its sleeve. And by way of comparing three popular phone systems, we'll cover the basics of what is available and how it might benefit your firm.

Cloud-based systems may give you extra features, lower price or both. So even if you're ok with the system you're currently using, it may be worthwhile to take a look at what's out there.

  • If you're not currently using a business phone system, some features you're missing out on include:
  • dial-by-name directory
  • transfer to extensions
  • automated attendant
  • voice mailbox for each user
  • ring multiple numbers simultaneously
  • toll-free numbers
  • call recording
  • call logs
  • integrated internet fax
  • integration with legal practice management, CRM or support software

Of the three systems I'm comparing here, I have personally used RingCentral and Line2. I have not used Grasshopper, but I've thoroughly researched it.

I'll start by giving you the essence of what the services offer. RingCentral is the most comprehensive voice communication system of the three, and it's intended as a complete replacement of your current business system via VOIP (internet telephony). Line2 is also a VOIP solution but doesn't have as many features as RingCentral. Grasshopper doesn't provide any phone service but exists to augment the phones you're already using to form a business telephone system.

Common Features

The above three services all provide the heart of what a business phone system is meant to offer: extensions with a dial-by-name directory; an auto-attendant that can route income calls to the appropriate place; call transferring; and local and/or toll-free numbers (or you can port your current numbers).

In Depth

RingCentral unnamed

All of their plans include these primary features:

  • unlimited calling to US and Canada
  • toll-free number
  • limited toll-free minutes
  • internet fax
  • conference calling
  • texting
  • apps for computers and mobile devices
  • extension capability
  • auto attendant with flexible rules to route calls
  • dial by name directory
  • call transferring
  • call recording
  • call logs
  • intercom
  • video conferencing
  • audio conferencing
  • intra-company messaging and collaboration system

The above is only a partial list of all of the features offered. You can see what I mean about being comprehensive. You don't need any existing telephones to use their system. You can purchase or rent VOIP softphones or use the available mobile and computer apps as virtual phones.

While no one system has 100% reliability, I personally found that I rarely had a connection or quality issue. Of course, your internet connection will play the largest role in determining the quality of the call. If you have poor internet performance, VOIP isn't for you. There were also times the phone app were buggy, but updates generally corrected major problems.

For the most part, RingCentral has everything Line2 and Grasshopper have and more. That's also why it's the most expensive of the three. If you need all of the features, RingCentral is an excellent choice. If you don't need all of the features and want to spend less, the other two systems come into play.

Line2 unknown
The primary features of their business plan include:

  • apps for computers and mobile devices
  • 5,000 calling minutes/ month
  • toll-free or local number
  • internet fax for additional charge
  • unlimited texting
  • extensions
  • auto attendant to route calls
  • dial by name directory
  • individual voice mailboxes
  • call transferring
  • simultaneous call forwarding
  • up to 20 person conference calling

Line2 relies on computer and mobile apps, so if you want to use VOIP phones, you'll need to look elsewhere. Line2 isn't integrated into any other platforms of which I'm aware.

My experience with call quality is roughly the same as with RingCentral; it's pretty rare to have bad quality or an outage. If you want a VOIP system and don't need all of the features of RingCentral, you should take a serious look at Line2.

Grasshopper grasshopper

As mentioned above, Grasshopper is a bit different from the other two. It has no VOIP capabilities. You use mobile and landline phones to make and receive calls. They have a mobile app, but it doesn't act like a virtual phone. You can manage the system, but when you dial out using the app, it connects to their service and then calls you back while dialing out the number you called. You also you can't receive calls in the app, calls are forwarded to your mobile. If you have sketchy internet service but have good cell phone service and/or landline phones, it could be the service for you. If you find you often have a poor cell phone signal but have good wifi, you'd be better off with a system that includes VOIP phone service.

Note that Grasshopper was purchased by Citrix recently, and Citrix is known for making VOIP softphones, and they currently offer VOIP mobile apps. So I wouldn't be surprised to see Grasshopper add VOIP capability in the future. We'll keep our eyes out for any news.

Grasshopper primary feature are as follows:

  • toll-free or local number
  • internet fax for additional charge
  • texting
  • extensions
  • auto attendant to route calls
  • dial by name directory
  • individual voice mailboxes
  • call transferring
  • simultaneous call forwarding

Pricing

There are so many different plans and add-ons available, that I think it would be misleading to present a simple comparison table. I can tell you that for the time that I used RingCentral on their old $25/mo plan. After taxes and fees, my bill totaled $41.25/month. For Line2, the $14.95/month or $149.50/year they advertised was the exact amount for which I was billed. Grasshopper pricing is heavily dependent on the number of minutes you use. You must first determine the features you want, the number of extensions required, then the number of minutes you anticipate using to compare the true cost of each product.

I hope the above provides you with a good start in determining whether you need a new phone system for your law firm and which products may best meet your needs. As always, I'm available for consultation for more in-depth analysis.

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