July 30, 2020 6 minutes to read ∙ 1400 words

Ask Techie: Is a Paid Zoom Account Worth It?

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Welcome to the latest installment of our monthly Q&A column, where a panel of experts answers your questions about using technology in your law practice.

This month we answer readers’ questions about whether a paid Zoom account is worth the cost, why Windows 10 keeps changing your default printer, and how choosing the right font can help you be a more persuasive advocate.

Q: Should I Get a Paid Zoom Account?

A: The answer to this question is a definite “maybe.” Let’s consider some of the trade-offs to help you decide.

First of all, you can get a free Basic account that will provide you with most of the features available on the Zoom platform. The free subscription allows unlimited time in one-on-one meetings. If you have more than one other person in the meeting, the Basic plan limits your meeting time to 40 minutes. You get all the same security measures as the paid users get. For many, if not most of you, that may prove all that you need. If you only plan to use Zoom for client meetings and the meetings will either be one-on-one or limited to 40 minutes, then you probably should save your money and go with the Basic subscription.

If, on the other hand, you plan on hosting group meetings that will last more than 40 minutes, you have no choice but to get a paid account. Zoom offers three types of paid accounts: Pro (up to 9 hosts, $14.99/month/host); Business and Enterprise (each for $19.99/month/host). Unless you work for a very large entity requiring 100 or more users with hosting privileges, you have no reason to concern yourself with the Enterprise subscription. The Business subscription sets up a minimum of 10 hosts. For most of us in solo and small firm practice, the Pro subscription will work perfectly. It includes all the features of the free account but replaces the 40-minute limit on group meetings with 24 hours. It also gives you the ability to record and save the meetings.

I have used Zoom very extensively since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic and the shelter in place requirements. So far, all my client meetings have been one-on-one, and none have exceeded 30 minutes anyway. It appears to me that as a general rule, video conferences take more time than telephone calls and less time than face-to-face meetings. I have hosted and attended a number of group meetings. The group meetings all seem to last well over an hour.

Please note that everyone who attends a group meeting, however, does not need to have a paid version. Only the host needs that. All the other attendees can participate with the free version, making it ideal for group use, committee meetings, etc.

One of the most significant reasons that I chose to go with the Pro version of Zoom is that I do a fair amount of mediation as well as practicing law, so I needed the ability to have longer conferences and to have breakout rooms. For me, the decision to spend the $14.99 per month came under the heading of “no brainer.” I needed to do it to get the features I required.

If you do not plan to host group meetings (or if you plan to keep them under 40 minutes), you can probably get by with the free Basic plan. If you need group meetings of longer than 40 minutes or breakout rooms, you will want the Pro version.

For those of you who have concerns about security, be advised that Zoom has beefed up its security since the problems that it experienced earlier in the year. The new version of Zoom version 5 has AES 256-bit GCM encryption. That became the standard as of May 30, 2020. As of that date, Zoom required participants to have version 5 of the Zoom app. In addition, you can enhance the security of your own meetings by selecting the waiting room feature, requiring the host to individually admit each prospective attendee. You can also add a password to the structure and require that prospective attendees have the password to gain admission.

All things considered, I have found Zoom easy to use and worth using as my primary videoconferencing platform. I suspect that most sole practitioners and small firm attorneys can get by just fine with the free Basic subscription. Some of you will want or need to get the Pro version.

Techie: Jeffrey Allen, GPSolo eReport Editor-in-Chief Emeritus and Senior Technology Editor, Graves & Allen, jallenlawtek@aol.com.

Q: What Is Typography and Why Should I Care?

A: To quote Matthew Butterick, author of Typography for Lawyers, typography “is the visual component of the written word.” Every lawyer should care deeply about this because written advocacy is the most important aspect of any lawyer’s job. Good typography conserves the attention of your reader, bad typography—or even not good typography—distracts. Although lawyers and judges like to believe that persuasion is based on the content of the arguments and not their presentation, it’s simply not true. No matter how self-aware and unbiased the judges are, the experience of reading your brief will affect how they view your arguments. On some level, every lawyer already knows this. I have yet to see a brief filed in court in 8-point comic sans font, but even though lawyers accept the obvious truth that such a font decision would be a terrible idea, most fail to concern themselves with typography beyond the simple act of avoiding absurd fonts.

If a terrible font is a terrible idea, isn’t a good font a good idea? As obvious as that may seem, I suspect very few lawyers have ever thought about what a good font is. Our word processor has a default (typically a neutral or bad) font, and we use it. I myself was once guilty of believing that fonts were silly, and we should just use Times New Roman for everything. We shouldn’t. As technology becomes more and more prevalent, it is increasingly more important for lawyers to understand good typography. A font created for printed newspapers, such as Times New Roman, was designed for small columns on huge pages, and it won’t read as well when the judge is reading your single-column, double-spaced brief on his tablet. Whatever word processor you use, you have access to dozens of fonts. Take some time and do some reading to figure out which ones you should be using. And if this answer has caught your attention, I’d highly recommend checking out Butterick’s book.

Techie: Jordan L. Couch, GPSolo eReport Contributing Technology Editor, Palace Law, jordan@palacelaw.com.

Q: Why Do My Documents in Windows 10 Keep Getting Sent to Different Printers? It’s Driving Me Crazy!

A: Windows 10 introduced a feature that let Windows manage your default printer. This feature set your default printer as the one that you last used. So, if you have different printers in your office—one that you use all of the time and one that you use occasionally—whatever printer you used last is the one that Window sets as the default printer. If you only have one printer, this is not an issue. However, if you do print to multiple printers from time to time, this can be extremely annoying. The good news is that there is an easy fix. To disable this feature so you can set a default that stays the default even if you print to a different printer, do the following:

1. Click the Windows Start button (Windows logo at the lower left corner of your screen):

Windows Start button

Windows Start button

2. Click the Settings button once you open the Start menu (this is on the right and looks like a gear), which will open the Windows Setting screen:

Settings button

Settings button

3. Click Devices, which opens the Devices screen

Devices screen

Devices screen

4. Under Devices on the left side of the “Bluetooth & other devices” screen, click “Printers & scanners” to open the “Printers & scanner” screen:

Bluetooth & other devices screen

Bluetooth & other devices screen

5. Scroll down under “Printers & scanners” until you see the option for “Let Windows manage my default printer”. If the box is checked, uncheck it.

Printers & scanners screen

Printers & scanners screen

6. Scroll back up until you find the printer listed that you want to be your default printer;

7. Click the printer to set as your default, then click the Mange button to open the “Manage your device” window for that printer;

8. Click “Set as default” button to set this printer as your Default printer;

9. Click the close window X at the top right of the “Manage your device” screen:

Click X to close the window

Click X to close the window

Your Default printer will now remain set even if you print to a different printer in your office.

Techie: Nerino J. Petro Jr., GPSolo eReport Contributing Technology Editor, Erickson Group, nerinopetro@cencomtech.com.

What’s YOUR Question?

If you have a technology question, please forward it to Managing Editor Rob Salkin (robert.salkin@americanbar.org) at your earliest convenience. Our response team selects the questions for response and publication. Our regular response team includes Jeffrey Allen, Wells H. Anderson, Jordan L. Couch, Ashley Hallene, Al Harrison, and Patrick Palace. We publish submitted questions anonymously, just in case you do not want someone else to know you asked the question.

Please send in your questions today!

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Published in GPSolo eReport, Volume 9, Number 12, July 2020. © 2020 by the American Bar Association. Reproduced with permission. All rights reserved. This information or any portion thereof may not be copied or disseminated in any form or by any means or stored in an electronic database or retrieval system without the express written consent of the American Bar Association. The views expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the positions or policies of the American Bar Association or the Solo, Small Firm and General Practice Division.