Using Skype and FaceTime to Talk to Your Lawyer

Mobile Lawyer

Using Skype and FaceTime to Talk to Your Lawyer

At McGohey Law, PLLC, we take your privacy and confidentiality very seriously.  We actively safeguard communications with our firm.  In addition to using best practices to ensure your confidentiality, we provide an encrypted client portal for communications that provides an additional layer of protection for your confidential information.  When you do not feel safe using traditional e-mail, our client portal offers an alternative, encrypted means of communicating.

Recently, we began offering Skype and FaceTime consultations for new and existing clients.  In our view, our decision recognizes the changing landscape of legal services.  The use of technology to facilitate attorney-client relationships benefits the client by reducing the overall cost of legal services and benefits the firm by facilitating more client relationships throughout New Hampshire, including in the North County and rural areas.

While you may recognize the convenience of consulting with your lawyer from the comfort of your living room, you may be concerned about security and privacy.  We want to be sure you understand your options and the associated risks.

Client Meeting Options

  • First, face to face meetings are the time-honored and tested, preferred means of client consultations. We are available to meet with you personally in our office in Manchester, New Hampshire. Initial Consultations in many case types are free, including bankruptcy cases, family law cases and certain other cases.  In other words, you may always meet with us at our offices for free.
  • Second, we can come to you for meetings. While consultations are ordinarily free, due to mileage and other expenses that arise from being out of the office there may be a charge for this service.
  • Third, we are available for telephone conferences and can conduct many client meetings over the phone. To facilitate communications by phone you will also need access to electronic mail or the ability to use regular mail and overnight mail to provide us with documents and other items that we might need. You can also securely upload any documents to your client case portal once you become a client.
  • Finally, we now offer Skype and Facetime consultations. To use Skype or FaceTime you will need access to a computer or mobile device with an internet connection. If you have access to a computer or mobile device you can also use our client portal once you are a client to upload documents securely.  If you are not yet a client, you will need to use electronic or regular mail to provide us with your documents.

Security of Skype and FaceTime Consultations

All client communications with McGohey Law, PLLC are confidential and protected by the attorney-client privilege.  Reasonable concerns arise when using the internet to facilitate conversations, because this form of communication is new for most of us.  Rumors and speculation abound concerning the security of these media and it can be difficult to determine who is right about these communications.

First, be aware that attempts to intercept Skype and FaceTime calls are illegal.  Many people are aware, from popular television shows, that “wire-tapping” or surreptitious surveillance over the telephone is a Federal crime.  You may not be aware, however, that the “Federal Wire-Tapping Act” also makes it a Federal crime to intentionally intercept an “electronic communication” which the Act defines as “any transfer of signs, signals, writing, images, sounds, data, or intelligence of any nature transmitted in whole or in part by a wire, radio, electromagnetic, photoelectronic or photooptical system that affects interstate or foreign commerce.”  That broad definition can be summarized by saying that it is just as illegal to tap a phone as it is to hack an electronic communication such as a call over Skype or FaceTime.  By the way, this statute also applies to law enforcement.

Second, FaceTime calls and Skype calls are encrypted.  The companies that provide FaceTime (Apple) and Skype (Microsoft) have financial incentives to make sure that private calls remain private.  Encryption protects the data being transmitted.

Encryption does not protect the computer (or smartphone or tablet) itself from unauthorized access and it does not protect against inadvertent or purposeful disclosure by the user of the information. However, encryption provides a level of security for electronic transactions comparable to what you would expect in a regular voice call.

Now all of this is not to say that hacking of electronic communications does not happen.  This is further not to say that law enforcement cannot intercept or monitor calls, including on Skype.  However, law enforcement will have some difficulty if they do try to intercept calls, as demonstrated by the widely publicized fight between Apple and the FBI.

In light of the relative risks of Skype and FaceTime compared to traditional telephone and in person meetings, our conclusion at McGohey Law, PLLC is that Skype and FaceTime calls For that reason, we are happy to offer Skype and FaceTime consultations upon request.

If you feel uncomfortable or concerned about the level of security provided by Skype and FaceTime, please let us know and we will be happy to accommodate you through an in person or telephonic meeting.

To set up a Skype or FaceTime Consultation, simply call or e-mail us to request a day and time that will work for you.  We look forward to serving you and putting you in control of your case.

 

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