Faxes are a fact of life for lawyers, and that’s something that’s unlikely to change in the near future. As long as contracts require amendments and signatures, forms need to be filled out, required documents still exist solely in paper form, etc. lawyers will need a way to send and receive them quickly.
If you’re still using a fax machine, you’ve probably noticed that faxes throw a bit of a monkey wrench into your plans for greening the office. There is another alternative, though: an Internet fax service. These services allow you to send and receive faxes either through your email account or a secure online server. Here are some of the reasons you may want to make the switch now.
- Paperless. When you receive a fax through an Internet fax service, it arrives as an attachment in your email or the online user interface. Most lawyers use PDFs, although better services will give you a choice of file formats. Once you receive it you can save the attachment to any location you want on your hard drive or network (most likely an individual client folder). That way it’s always available to you without the need to carry around a stack of papers. And you never have to worry about losing or misplacing a fax. On the other side, sending a fax is as easy as sending an email. If it already exists electronically you don’t have to print it first and then run it through a fax machine.
- Greater mobility. An Internet fax service allows you to send and receive faxes anywhere you can get an Internet connection. That’s a feature Andy Ullucci of Ullucci Law Associates in Rumford, Rhode Island felt was essential in starting his practice. His vision from the beginning was to run the entire business off his laptop instead of having a formal office. With MyFax, Ullucci says he can send and receive faxes from a client’s office, a local coffee shop, a hotel lobby or dozens of other locations. It’s essential in keeping things moving forward while he’s out of his home office – which is most of the time.
- Lower cost. There are a lot of additional costs associated with a fax machine. There’s the machine itself, which you generally have to replace once every year or two. There’s the second phone line needed to have a dedicated fax number. Then there’s the paper and toner, not to mention the electricity to run the machine 24/7 in case you need to send or receive a fax. With an Internet fax service you eliminate the cost of the machine, second phone line, toner and electricity to run it. You also seriously reduce your paper costs because you choose which pages you print – and use your regular printer to do it. Finally, you don’t need extra filing cabinets and space as you do with paper faxes; all the pages are stored electronically.
- Always available. Fax can machines jam, grab two pages at once, run out of paper or toner, lose power, get busy signals or suffer other issues that prevent faxes from being sent or received efficiently. Internet fax services don’t have any of those issues. If you’re sending a fax through an Internet fax service and it gets a busy signal, it will keep trying, usually for 24 hours. If a fax fails to go through for any reason, you receive an email notice so you can remedy the situation right away. Since there’s no paper or toner involved you’ll never run out. And if you have a power loss you can simply go anywhere there’s an Internet connection; if you have your faxes coming in to your smart phone you may not even have to move.
When you look at that list, it really makes you wonder why you’re using that old fax machine at all!
Luc Vezina is product marketing manager for MyFax, a provider of Internet faxing services for individual home users, small businesses, and large corporations. MyFax has won a number of awards in head-to-head competitions for ease of use, reliability, and best overall value. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.