Popular Threads - July 2019

Dictation

What systems are you using or can you recommend for one attorney and one paralegal for dictation? I'm not talking about software that does voice recognition, like Dragon Speaking. I'm asking about modern versions (digital) of the old school way we used tape machines for dictation and playback devices with headsets and foot switches for transcription.

I think my 8x8 VOIP allows me to adjust the playback speed of VMs, in which case I could just leave VMs as dictation files (from anywhere, or in-office), and they could be played back through the standard interface or downloaded as audio files. There are numerous apps and utilities that allow you to control playback of generic audio files, though I don't know about a foot switch. (A foot switch seems rather archaic.)

I find it hard to imagine a current VOIP provider that doesn't allow you to download audio files from your VM box.

    Richard J. Rutledge, Jr., North Carolina

That's certainly one option, but for the mobile attorney, it's not very user friendly with regard to back spacing and such. Take a look at this system: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00JFADJZ4?tag=breakwindo-20

It has pretty good reviews.

    Mike Phillips, North Carolina

Look to the products from NCH www.nch.com.au for both dictation and transcription. American Dictation .com has the equipment at honest pricing. There's also the app Dictate + Connect which is for Android and Apple devices. I won't go into here, but I believe it secure enough for attorney-client work product as it doesn't share or load to any servers (unless you FTP to your own or a service provider for the transcription part).

Any questions, feel free to ask on or off list. 

    Andrea Cannavina, nope notta lawyer

I use ExpressScribe from NCH. No problem. My assistants do not use the foot pedals, just keyboard controls.

    Marshall D. Chriswell, Pennsylvania

We always used Dictaphone products. Included a foot pedal. Boss would make a pile of files on his credenza as he dictated on them. When I was ready for more dictation, I would take the tape out of his machine and pick up the pile of files. I would replace the tape with a fresh one for him. Then, at my desk, I would flip the pile of files so the top file was the first on the tape and start transcribing. Worked like a champ.

    Marilou Auer, not a lawyer

At one point early in my career, a different boss purchased a Think Tank.

It was digital, I believe, and on a loop. It was a big box that was connected directly to the boss's dictation equipment by a cable. A red light indicated there was dictation pending. Because it was on a loop, if I was caught up on dictation, I could type right along with him as he dictated. He was good at dictating, never going back to make changes or add a paragraph. This was a good thing, because I was typing on an IBM correcting Selectric II. Great memories!

    Marilou Auer

Just wanted to point out that Dragon is speech recognition, not transcription. Transcription is far more valuable in terms of saving time and costs as there are a LOT of things that Dragon can't do (even when it is accurate).

    Andrea Cannavina, nope notta lawyer

We recently had to take our daughter to a pediatric ophthalmologist, and he used a Dictaphone. I’m not sure I’d ever actually seen one in person before. I’d be willing to bet this one has been in use for decades, but whatever works!

    Heather Balmat, Virginia

When I started working for law firms in the mid-1980s, there was one guy who persisted in referring to the microcassettes he used for dictation as "belts." I'm sure that's a linguistic artifact from the original Dictaphone.

    L. Maxwell Taylor, Vermont

Home Printer Recommendations - Infrequent Use

We currently have a Brother MFC j475dw for our home printer. The problem is, we use it very infrequently. Often, when we go to use it, the ink has dried up or it says that it is empty, despite not really having been used much.

Any recommendations on a home printer that will keep ink between infrequent uses? Black and white ink only would be fine. I don't really care about scan/copy/fax options.

If black and you white only, why not get a laser printer? You’ll never have to worry about ink drying up again.

    Jerry W. Cain, Jr., Georgia

I second the laser printer recommendation. 

    Michael J. Sweeney, Connecticut

My recommendation:

1. Never buy an inkjet printer.

2. Laser printers are inexpensive and a better option.

    Darrell G. Stewart, Texas

Thanks for all the feedback. I was unaware that laser printers use toner which will not dry up. We will be purchasing a laser printer once we complete our move to Florida.

    Brian C. Hagner

There are many inexpensive laser printers out there, but the cost of toner cartridges can vary greatly. This should be a factor in deciding which printer to buy.

    Andrew C. McDannold

I fully agree that you should look at costs to print. One reference point I have relied on is printershowcase.com. Their comparison of black and white laser in the small office category is https://www.printershowcase.com/bwsmalloffice.aspx . Cost to print per page varies from 0.58 cents to 1.7 cents under a standard measure.

Based on the costs, best deal in this category is https://www.printershowcase.com/p3045dn.aspx.

I have purchased multiple printers from this company, primarily larger Ricoh color lasers. Other than prior good experience, I have no stake in the outcome.

    Darrell G. Stewart

I would recommend one with a document feeder and completely agree on the recommendation to NOT buy inkjet! Never, never! Learned from my mistake!!! By the way, if you know that your feeder is leaving streak marks on copies, do you know how to fix this? It's a Brother MFC-:2680W.

The streaks don't come out when printing or using the scan glass and onlywhen using the feeder? Any advice?

    John Kang, Nevada

Regarding the streaks on copies when you use the feeder, my experience was that the "slit glass" that the paper passes by either has a mark on it that needs cleaning, or the plastic at one end of the glass needs cleaning.

This is different glass than is used for the flatbed. A credit card edge run across the area might help, too, according to my XEROX people. But this link, as an example, tells a bit of a different story and you might follow its recommendations:

https://www.ucidocuments.com/how-to-clean-the-slit-glass-on-a-copier/.

    Mark E. Peneguy, Louisiana

I have five hp1102w laser printers for my home and my office and they are great for low volume jobs. Cheap and toner lasts a very long time. For big jobs, I have an hp m602n which is very reliable and has per page cost of a penny or two. I have a brother multi function too. I know there are a lot of brother fans here but for me, never again. Having to replace toner and the drum separately is extra hassle. And the toner ran out very fast. We use the brother solely as a scanner and never print from it.

    Gene Lee, California

Check to see if there is a smudge/dirt on the glass that scans for the feeder. Our glass is maybe 1/2 inch wide.

The printer doesn't use one. The flatbed scanner may have a different one.

    Jim Pardue, North Carolina

I have used LD products for my print cartridges for over 20 years. I only had to return one cartridge, which was replaced without charge. Keeps my cost per copy very low. Very happy with their rebuilt cartridges and I highly recommend them. As an amateur photographer I also print up many photographs and again I've been very happy with cartridges from LD.

    Jim Winiarski

I love my Brother DCP- L2540DW.

Nothing beats a Brother.

    Bridget Butler

I am the *former* Brother fanboy.

The last two, HL-L6200DW models, had issues with crinkling paper. One was replaced by Brother. Still, no resolution of issues.

I would not buy another one.

    Jim Pardue

I'm happy with my Brother HL-2270DW laser printer, which I think is an outdated model. It gets used sporadically, and when used, is used a lot.

But it also goes a month or several without any use and is just fine, which I think is just a feature of most laser printers. Right now it is sitting in the back of my office, because I sold my house next month and am currently bunking with a family member. I think the more recent model is about $100 on Amazon.

    Cynthia V. Hall, Florida

Thank you, Mark! It worked!! No more streaks. 1 less complaint from clients and courts.

    John Kang

I'm pleased it helped solve your problem!

    Mark E. Peneguy

I have had several inkjet printers and buy aftermarket cartridges. We don't use it much except when we need color. An old black and white laser printer does the rest.

    Mitchell Goldstein, Virginia

Mail or email monthly bills?

Hi all, 

Currently I mail all my monthly bills to my clients. I do this piece because I think that a paper bill seems more important and noticed than an emailed bill.

Am I just wasting money with snail mail? Should I be emailing my clients their bills to save the $.49 stamp for each bill? Thanks.

I have been emailing bills for years. No problems. Of course, I represent businesses and business people so YMMV.

    Fredric Gruder

We email PDFs of bills and reminder statements. Never had an issue with it.

    Kevin Grierson, Virginia

I actually don't think I've ever sent a paper invoice, it's always been by e-mail. The only potential downside I could see is the risk that it will get stuck in a spam filter, which has happened with exactly one invoice. If a client wanted a paper invoice I'd oblige, but I've never had anyone ask!

Personally, I'd prefer to never send or receive another piece of snail mail again, though i realize we aren't quite there yet.

    Noel French, Michigan

Email it is....plus this way you can see when they opened it. ;)

    Dave Rakowski, Pennsylvania

Good point. We actually recently changed from a PDF of a bill to a link to the bill in Bill4Time. We can track third-party access to those links, though to my knowledge we’ve not had a need to do so.

    Kevin Grierson

My cpa sends me a QuickBooks invoice link. I just click click click and the invoice is paid. I like the convenience.

    Gene Lee, California

I switched from paper invoicing to email billing through Clio and Lawpay about 6 months ago. It has been a huge timesaver for me (as I do all my own billing despite having staff), and clients clearly like the convenience of paying online. I can also send requests for retainer deposits, which are paid online as well.

Out of the 30-50 invoices I prepare each month, only about 5 of those are sent snail mail, to older or non tech-savvy clients.

    Marshall D. Chriswell, Pennsylvania

Even my lawn guy sends me a Quickbooks invoice!

I like that can pay everything whenever/wherever I find the time, without needing to find paper bills that I tucked away somewhere.

    Meg Tebo, Illinois

We switched to emailing bills about 5 years ago, except for those clients who tell us to send paper copies. I get paid faster and have fewer issues with billing. We use Timeslips and it was easy to switch on the "E-mail bills" option. 

    Robert "Robby" W. Hughes, Jr., Georgia

Why don't you do both for a couple of months and see what your results are? If you can get paid online, I'd definitely include a link for payment there for emailed bills.

You can send your paper bills out on something like light yellow paper, to see for mailed payment whether they are responding to the mailed bill or printing out the emailed bill. Of curse that won't help you much if they don't return the bill, such as if paying through a bank's BillPay system.

My law firm does both, and we ask at intake how they'd prefer to receive bills. I have some corporate clients, but the majority of the firm's work is individuals, so we probably have a high percentage of clients than most who would prefer paper bills. If a bill is unpaid, regardless of the client's election, we send the next bill both email and snail mail.

    Cynthia V. Hall, Florida

We send both. We set up our billing month ti end on the 20th years ago when we were in a more manual system but the idea was that we would get the bills out by the 25th and thus be in line for payment before those who billed at the end of the month.

We started e-mailing the bills in addition to snail mail several years ago. No one has complained about receiving two bills for the same thing.

They know better than to pay it twice just because it came by two media.

I do have one client who continually says he has an on-going battle with the post office over the delivery of his mail and thus he hasn't gotten our bill so he hasn't paid it yet. Unfortunately for him, I can see where he did open the e-mail copy of the bill. Fortunately for me, his bills are usually very small as he does not produce large quantities of work for us, in fact it is mostly the dribs and drabs of closing up the file. Anyway, any future work will be accompanied by a substantial retainer. This will probably scare him off but if I am not going to be paid, I would rather be on the golf course than slaving for an ungrateful client.

    John Martin Miles, Georgia

Email. Mail would be redundant and I fail to see the point.

    Sterling L. DeRamus, Alabama

My engagement letter states it is the practice of my office to send electronic invoices unless the client prefers USPS mail. Then there are lines to provide email and mailing address. I do that, in part, because clients, inspite of good counsel, use their work email for personal matters and when that goes haywire I want to be able to demonstrate I used the designated email.

Like Robby, I use the billing component of Time Matters to keep time and send invoices. More than once I've billed early on a Saturday and Monday's mail brought a check.

    Deborah Matthews, Virginia

Remote Practice

How realistic/practical is it to do the following practice areas remotely from another state/country/continent as a solo practitioner?

Transactional law for small businesses (or bigger ones?) Amicable divorce agreements (or less amicable ones?) Small motorcycle personal injury cases Freelance writing work for small law firm(s). 

I am taking the bar later this month. I plan to work for myself on a solo/remote/freelance basis, but haven’t committed to specific practice areas yet.    

Divorce and personal injury aren’t feasible remotely because you're going to have to go to court. A lot of "amicable" divorced turn it not to be.

    Lesley Hoenig, Michigan

The actual work is fine to do remotely. I'm not "remote" in the sense that I live where I practice and have a physical office I can use for meetings, but I have clients I've only worked with remotely by phone and e-mail and it's fine. Sometimes I have a client that REALLY wants to meet in person and I accommodate that, but otherwise 100% of the work can and often does take place remotely.

That said, almost all of my clients are either people that I've networked with directly or that have been referred to me from someone I know locally from networking. Which is to say I couldn't have built my client base remotely. That's not to say you couldn't, and it's very possible that my online efforts have borne little fruit just because I suck at it, but I really think it's a lot harder to build a transactional business client base primarily online. When I think about how business owners or business-owners-to-be find an attorney, I think most of them are going to ask their colleagues, CPA, mentors, etc. for a referral. They're usually not going to Google for that except as a last resort or to check out a referral before getting in touch.

That said, there are probably niches with client bases who aren't in a position to know a local attorney or have one in their network, and those might be a better fit for building a client base remotely. I have a friend who was marketing investment visa immigration work to wealthy Chinese, Vietnamese, and Thai citizens living in their home countries. He did occasionally physically go to those countries but he was generally living and practicing here while most of his clients were abroad.

    Noel French, Michigan

Depends on the state etc,

In Missouri you could do amicable divorces remotely because you never had to go to court (just turn in paperwork). But in Ohio you have to have a hearing.

Now you can do unbundled legal services here in Ohio (so you can draft the documents but not represent them in court for the amicable divorce etc).

But you probably shouldn't be doing documents for states you aren't licensed in because of the likelihood of malpractice. And you certainly can't draft documents will living in a state you are not licensed in (so, for example if you take the NC bar and decided to live in SC and work from home, you would be violating SC's UPL statute).

And PI cases would be difficult unless you will only represent pre-litigation (ie hand off the case before filing).

Transactional work gets easier remotely

    Erin M. Schmidt, Ohio

I have been practicing remotely for 2 1/2 years now. I semi-retired to Sedona AZ. My practice and office are still in Chicago. I have been able to handle my clients' needs just fine (environmental and OSHA law). I have travelled at client's expense twice in that time. If the client doesn't want to pay for travel then I try to handle the matter by phone and email. However, the difficult part has been landing new clients. If one hires me after phone or email exchange, great. But if they want to meet face to face and learn that they can't do that practically with me, in most cases they don't hire me. For me, that will just speed my semi-retirement along. But for you it could be a crisis. Good luck with it.

    Shell Bleiweiss, Illinois

To Erin's point about UPL, I shouldn't have stated unequivocally that "the actual work is fine to do remotely" with regard to a transactional business law practice. The location from which one is working remotely could be a problem - but the work is of a type that physical proximity to clients isn't needed.

    Noel French

I know nothing about the other areas of law. But, for small motorcycle personal injury cases and freelance writing work for small law firm(s), those can be doable.

Part of it depends on where you are and where the client is. But, I have handled PI cases from San Diego to Humboldt (think about 1,000 miles apart), while I am in Sacramento (roughly 500 miles from each one). I have handled cases from Monterey to Tahoe (300 miles apart and about 150 miles from me). So it can be done. I will sometimes travel for depos, if need be.

Sometimes I hire a local PI attorney to cover them for me. It depends on the case.

I have hired freelancers as far away as New York, and as close as a friend of mine in California.

You can do it, with some forethought.

    Jonathan Stein, California

I can't speak towards personal injury or anything that could potentially involve the court system (although it might be a different story with e-filing), but on the transactional side it's absolutely doable.

I'm able to work from anywhere in the world in the same manner that I would back at home. I very rarely, if ever, have a need to meet with any clients or parties in person, so for the most part, my clients have no idea where I'm working from (although the awkward hours that emails are sent at while overseas likely either gives it away or otherwise makes it look like I'm slaving over the emails in the middle of the night).

I pretty much set up my practice from the start to be geared towards working remotely, which I think has made it easier on me than it otherwise would be for someone whose looking to transition from a fixed location practice.

Either way, it's certainly doable and I definitely recommend it if doing so fits within your practice areas!

    Joshua M. Biletsky, California

Divorce is not conducive to a strictly remote practice. Emotions are involved and amicable always has problems that must be dealt with... most likely re time in an actual courtroom or appearance. I would not chance it Without backup counsel to appear. 

    Micah G. Guilfoil Payne, Kentucky

Think about it from a client's perspective. It may be one thing to hire an established lawyer with good track record to work remotely. But would you hire a freshly minted lawyer, a solo with no track record, no experience, to represent you for just about any purpose, especially in a divorce or even in the tiniest personal injury action, who is working remotely, maybe from another continent? I'd think twice, even if that lawyer agreed to work for free. 

My $02. Resist the lure of working remotely until you've got some experience under your belt. As in at least five years. Maybe even more. 

    jennifer j. rose, Mexico

I agree with Jonathan. Personal injury can be done remotely if you (1) are willing to travel at times and/or (2) find a local attorney to cover hearings or depositions for you. In my remote PI cases, I stack travel so I'm in Phoenix or Denver for several days and fit in hearings, depositions, etc. I live in Albuquerque, NM. I also am admitted pro hac vice and am working with someone admitted in the jurisdiction. I do the same sort of thing for my cases in remote parts of the state, where I'll try to schedule meetings or depositions over a period of two days so I can get the most out of my travel time. We also have "Court Call," which allows me to attend hearings by phone - note, there are many, many occasions where this does not serve your client well and I try to be there in person if there is any chance that my physical presence could affect anything.

Working as a writer for an experienced attorney can also work really well.

You don't necessarily need to be admitted to practice in the jurisdiction (check local rules) if you are really working as a law clerk and your work product is reviewed and finalized by an admitted attorney. You can't sign pleadings or give legal advice, however. It is a wonderful way to see how these cases work and learn the elements and standards that apply to different matters while getting paid for the time.

Good luck to you, whatever you decide.

    Deena L. Buchanan, New Mexico

You need a good reason someone would hire you versus someone they could meet in person. Brand new lawyer starting out, you may struggle to find a good reason.

    Darrell G. Stewart, Texas

And I find that potential clients who look for lawyers online only are bottom-feeding, at least in my field. 

Good clients want to trust their lawyer. That happens either through a trustworthy referral, or they have met you in person. 

    Flann Lippincott, New Jersey

Nearly all of my client base is located outside of my metro area. But with over 38 years of practice and 25+ in my area of practice, my opinions are in line with the group. I still get on a plane or in the car from time to time to close an engagement with a client. Obviously, the size of the potential matter drives whether I will travel to close a representation. While I do get some clients from my website, the website is more often a step in the PC's due diligence on me. Even in this internet driven era, a face to face visit is often the difference between a new client and a miss.

I also wonder whether Google or other search engines would become a hurdle in attracting clients located at some distance from potential counsel. We have a small niche, which helps us to overcome what I perceive to be geographical limitations imposed by search engine queries. There are not many PACA lawyers out there so we can usually appear on the first page of most searches. I doubt that this would be the case if our practice were more general. 

As Frances notes, the P's drawn by my website who contact me without a reference on me from someone else, i.e. industry contact or other counsel, tend to be tire kickers who want to shop price. Harry Beckwith wrote a book on selling services about 15 years ago, "Selling the Invisible." One of his key points is that "The client who will hire you on price will abandon you based on a lower price." 

    Craig A. Stokes, Texas

"I find that potential clients who look for lawyers online only are bottom-feeding, at least in my field."

Definitely varies by practice area. I do DWI and misdemeanor defense. I have built my entire firm with my online presence. Certainly we get cases many other ways (and lots of referrals after doing this for 11 years), but most consumers Google their problems.

I also routinely meet new colleagues at court who say, "Oh, Andrew! I've seen your videos and looked stuff up on your website!" :)

I couldn't do my practice remotely simply because it requires court appearances every day. But I *never* meet 95% of my clients. I just need to be here for court, not to reel in clients or do the other work.

    Andrew Flusche, Virginia

I have been doing freelance writing work for solos and small firms exclusively for the last 23 years. I have a home office that my clients (i.e., other lawyers) never visit, even if they're located in the same county - or even the same town - as I am. I've worked for lawyers nationwide, from New York (where I'm admitted) to California and various states in between. I think your lack of experience will hurt you when it comes to getting a decent rate for your work, though.

    Lisa Solomon, New York

Thanks for all the comments. 

I agree that getting experience with an employer first would be ideal, but I am only available part-time because I run a consulting business I started about 10 years ago. It’s not realistic to find an employer for a part-time remote position with decent pay and meaningful work training/experience.

It’ll be tough, but I’ll learn on my own through Fort Knox university, starting with smaller stuff and lower rates, then working my way up over the years/decades. I figure I’ll also do lots of CLEs and pro-bono projects to ramp-up.

    David, law student 

Ring Central

We are thinking of moving our phones from Cox to VOIP. Ring Central appears to offer the most options we would use.

Any current opinions on Ring Central or other VOIP providers?

I am happy with Ring Central.

    Shell Bleiweiss, Illinois

I've been very happy with RingCentral. I've been with them for several years now. I can also speak highly of their tech support. You can get someone on the phone quickly if having problems.

    Ryan Young, Virginia

I've been with cloud-based Nextiva for a while. I'm very happy with their customer support, but I think they might be on the expensive side, and I don't think we get the most out of their system.

Since I've downsized since 2018, I am open to exploring a system that is not built around a handset model. I have a service client who uses Ring Central and she's very happy with their dashboard, analytics, and tracking, etc. capabilities. One of my fundamental hardware problems is that I my custom-built desktop computer doesn't have either a camera or a microphone.

    Bob Arnold

I've used RingCentral for 7 years. The features are nice, although there's a learning curve. I won't say the software is counter-intuitive, but not every procedure is readily apparent at first blush. You can add an actual phone (I use a Cisco with three lines) for about $10/month. So you wouldn't need a camera and microphone. The mobile app is also full-functioned and could actually suffice for a solo. The only reason I don't rely entirely on the mobile app is call quality.

    Tony LaCroix, Missouri

I use RingCentral and like the convenience. I have two phones. One at my office and the other in my home office. I can answer the office phones in either location. I can also answer and make calls using the app on my cell phone. Client can send text messages to my office number and I can reply using the app on my phone or on my desk top computer. The app works on Mac and PC.

    Dennis Chen, Florida

I use Ring Central. I love the fact I can place and receive calls thru Ring Central on my cell. But the best thing I love is the log of all calls and the time spent. 

    Patricia L. Dennis, Illinois

Don’t forget faxes can be sent directly to your Ring Central number. 

    Patricia L. Dennis

Please, someone talk to me like I'm 5 and explain this. Laughing now because 5 year-olds understand these things.

I have one cell phone, use Verizon. If I was to change to Ring Central, keep using cell but added a new phone (work-only phone), how would this work? How do I switch over--cut ties ith Verizon, download Ring software?

    Julie S. Mills, Ohio

Ring Central is not cell service. If you want cell service you would have to keep a cell carrier. Although Ring Central can forward calls to your cell phone, just like any "landline" can, that is as far as the two merge. At least as far as I know and I have Ring Central.

    Shell Bleiweiss

Shell, forgive this question but if someone has a cell, why would they want Ring Central? Is it a consideration just for landlines?

    Julie S. Mills

Yes. It’s a VOIP phone taking the place of landlines for office phones.

    Shell Bleiweiss

It also allows you to use your cell for business calls with your business number instead of your cell number.

    Suzanne L. Hawkins

I use it all the time on my cell to call clients. I love the log it keeps on connected calls, voice mail, etc. it rings first in my office then to my cell. 

    Patricia L. Dennis

IIRC you can use RingCentral (RC) without a separate office phone. RC allows you to use a separate number for business purposes and have access on your cell phone through an app and also through your computer through another app. With a headset on your computer you can make & receive RC calls. I just went to the RC site and it looks more expensive than I recall. If you check out ringcentral.com notice that the prices quoted are per user per month.

One of the reasons I like RC is because of the features it adds to a regular business phone service. When I compared the voip features to what CenturyLink was offering years ago, I thought it was a great deal. I have not researched it recently. I think Century Link is now Embarq.

    Dennis Chen

I have RC but don't use it nearly to its fullest. I would love to be able to make calls from my cell phone when on the road and have it look like it is coming from my office number. How do you do that? What apps do you need and do you need them on your desktop or phone or both?

    Shell Bleiweiss

Think of it as an alternative to getting a land line in your office. It has more flexibility than a regular land line. It gives you a business number to give out that is not your cell phone if that is valuable. 

    Darrell G. Stewart, Texas

This one of my favorite RC features. You just download their app and use it to make calls from your work number. The app sort of "borrows" your cell phone signal or wifi connection to make the call. No desktop app needed. If you ever run into setup problems with RC, their customer service is generally helpful and responsive. 

    Tony LaCroix

I have been using Google Voice for about 10 years now. Other than not being able to receive faxes at that number, it appears to have the same capabilities as Ring Central--I can call from my GV number using an app on my iPhone, and I can route calls to any phone number I choose. I get transcripts of voice mail, and can receive text messages. The best part is the cost--it's free. The one thing you do have to pay for is a pretty good deal--international calls vary by country, but I can call an Australian or UK landline for 1 cent per minute (4 cents for a cell phone).

    Kevin Grierson, Virginia

Google voice is great. I forward my home number to screen all the robo calls. Set it to go directly to voicemail, so my cell doesn't even ring. If message is left then there is a transcript so I don’t have to waste time on marketers... That said I would not rely on a free service from an advertising company like Google for my business needs. There may be a paid business grade service available as part of Google Business Suite, but I use Grasshopper for that. More reasonably priced for similar service as Ring Central. Three extensions included in base service package, so you can have a separate mailbox set up for an assistant or track marketing efforts with different numbers if you're into that sort of thing.

    Peter Turai