January 22, 2019 Technology

TAPAs: Power Play Tips for Skype

By Jeffrey Allen and Ashley Hallene
Setting up a Skype videoconference.

Setting up a Skype videoconference.

Skype, which launched in 2003, was the first mass-market, freely available Internet videoconferencing tool. In 2011 Microsoft purchased Skype and has since been building and adding to its utility. Over the last year, Microsoft has added a variety of new features to Skype that make it a powerful communication tool for solo and small firm lawyers.

Tip 1. You Can Record Important Meetings with Clients and Colleagues Using Skype Call Recording

In September 2018 Microsoft introduced Skype call recording, a feature that allows you to record your video calls. When you start recording, everyone on the call receives a notification that the call is being recorded. This feature works with voice calling, video calling, and group video calls. During a group video call, Skype will record everyone’s video, as well as screens shared during the call.

You can start call recording at any time during the call, on both the desktop and mobile devices. During a call, on the bottom of the screen, select the “+ More options” button, which pulls up a menu of additional options. Select “Start recording” to begin recording your call.

Tip 2. Use Read Receipts to Know Your Message Was Received

The read receipts feature is currently available in Skype version 8, on Android, Android tablet, iPhone, iPad, and the desktop platforms. The read receipt feature shows you exactly who has read your message in real time; it does this by showing you a miniature version of your contacts’ avatar (the picture or image your contact uses on his or her Skype account) right below the point in the conversation that he or she has read up to. This can be helpful when using group chat to communicate with your team. The feature is employed automatically in instant messages that consist of one-on-one conversations or in group messages with less than 20 participants. Be aware, users can turn this feature off on their end, which means you will not see what they have read.

You can turn off the read receipts feature under Settings > Messaging > then toggle the “Send read receipts” feature off or on.

Tip 3. Feel Secure with End-to-End Encryption for Text and Audio Communications

According to Skype, all Skype-to-Skype voice calls, video calls, file transfers, and instant messages are encrypted. However, keep in mind that if you use Skype to make a voice call to mobile or landline phones, the part of your call that takes place over the regular phone network is not going to be encrypted. For instant messaging, Skype uses TLS (transport layer security) to encrypt the messages between the Skype user and the chat service in the cloud. Communications between two Skype clients will be encrypted with 256-bit AES (Advanced Encryption Standard) encryption. AES is the standard used by the U.S. government to protect sensitive information.

Tip 4. Record Video Blogs Easily

In 2018 Microsoft rolled out features in Skype for “Content Creators,” including vloggers (video bloggers) and those who utilize digital broadcasts and live streams. With the Content Creators feature, you can use Skype in lieu of screen recording and capturing software. The feature is designed to work with NewTek NDI–enabled software (such as Wirecast, XSplit, and vMix).

Tip 5. Hold Virtual Meetings with Group Video Calls

You can set up group video calls including up to 25 people so long as they all have Skype accounts. One way of doing this is to hold the “Ctrl” key on your keyboard and select all the contacts you wish to include in the video call. Once everyone you wish to include is selected, right-click one of the contacts and select “Start a video call.”

These tips can take your Skype user experience to the next level. Skype is a great tool for getting to know potential clients, collaborating with colleagues, and holding virtual meetings.

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Jeffrey Allen is the principal in the Graves & Allen law firm in Oakland, California, where he has practiced since 1973. He is active in the ABA (particularly in the GPSolo and Senior Lawyers Divisions), the California State Bar Association and the Alameda County Bar Association. A frequent speaker on technology topics, he is Editor-in-Chief of GPSolo magazine and GPSolo eReport. He serves as an editor and the technology columnist for Experience Magazine and has served on the Board of Editors of the ABA Journal. He also serves on the ABA’s Standing Committee on Information Technology. Recently, he coauthored (with Ashley Hallene) Technology Solutions for Today's Lawyer and iPad for Lawyers: The Tools You Need at Your Fingertips. In addition to being licensed as an attorney in California, he has been admitted as a Solicitor of the Supreme Court of England and Wales. He teaches at California State University of the East Bay. He may be reached at jallenlawtek@aol.com.


Ashley Hallene is a petroleum landman at Alta Mesa Holdings, LP, and practices Oil and Gas law, Title Examination, Due Diligence, Acquisitions and Oil and Gas Leasing in Houston, Texas. She maintains a diverse solo practice on the side. Ashley is the coauthor of the technology overview Making Technology Work for You (A Guide for Solo and Small Firm Attorneys) along with attorney Jeffrey Allen. She has published articles on legal technology in GPSolo Magazine, GPSolo eReport, and the TechnoLawyer Newsletter. Ashley is an active member of the American Bar Association’s General Practice Solo & Small Firm Division, ABA’s Young Lawyers Division, the Texas Young Lawyers Association, the Houston Young Lawyers Association, and the Houston Association of Petroleum Landmen. She frequently speaks in technology CLEs and is Deputy Editor-in-Chief of the Technology and Reviews Department of the GPSolo eReport. She may be reached at ahallene@hallenelaw.com.