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Google Voice is a Google application that has been getting a lot of attention from attorneys for quite some time. However, until Tuesday it was by invitation only and millions of potential users were left out in the cold. Now that Google Voice is available to everyone, for the low, low price of free, you should highly consider using it to benefit your law practice. It can save you time and money, and offers a variety of convenient features that a regular phone does not replicate. In addition, you can avoid giving out your cell phone number if you use a personal cell phone to make business calls.
Here's how it works: You go to Google Voice and sign up for a new account. If you already have a Google account, such as Gmail, you can use the same account for Google Voice. After you sign up, you will have the option to pick a new phone number. After you select the phone number, you can set your account to link directly to any phone you want.
For example, you can have all calls forwarded to your cell phone and your office phone. Call forwarding can be modified so that, for example, you can set Google Voice to only forward your calls during the work week. You can require all callers to identify themselves and when you answer you will hear their name before you answer the call, or you can choose to forward them to voicemail. You can even listen to them leave the voicemail live as they're leaving it, something to keep in mind for anyone who messes up voicemails and re-records them, thinking that no one will hear the original message.
Another incredibly handy feature: you can record phone calls by simply pressing "4." You can't do it secretly, which is probably a good thing. Google provides an automated verbal announcement when call recording has been initiated and when it has been stopped. Just make sure that you are familiar with the applicable state and federal laws that apply to call recording.
Google Voice also includes built in voicemail with transcription, which you can forward to your e-mail account or receive by text message. Now you get transcribed voicemails sent to you. The transcriptions aren't perfect, but they are surprisingly decent.
Google Voice is a fantastic product. It has many features that most people haven't had access to and the non-existent cost makes it easy to try out and see what you think.