By: Nicole Black//July 31, 2020
By: Nicole Black//July 31, 2020//
It’s the end of July 2020, and we’re months into the COVID-19 crisis with no end in sight. As surges occur across the country, working remotely has become commonplace for most members of the legal profession. Because of that, court appearances, hearings, and jury trials are also part of our newfound reality.
As lawyers increasingly appear in court proceedings via videoconferencing, concerns regarding this format have begun to crop up, ranging from proper attire and etiquette to ethical and confidentiality issues. Because it’s such a new method of interacting for the vast majority of lawyers and judges, it’s an experiment in progress and people have been making it up as they go along.
Fortunately, the experiment is well underway, and as a result, protocols are being established to help lawyers engage more successfully in this format. Most recently, the Boston Bar Association provided four virtual hearing guides that include lots of great advice for lawyers seeking to improve their videoconferencing skills. (Online: https://tinyurl.com/MAZoomTips).
Some of the tips revolved around preparation. For example, lawyers were advised to ensure full familiarity with the videoconferencing platform being used by the court. Here some of the best tips relating to preparing for an appearance:
Videoconferencing etiquette is often a foreign concept to first-time users. To that end, the guides also include a variety of etiquette recommendations including the following:
Finally, there was very useful advice provided regarding the practicalities of appearing via videoconference while maintaining client confidentiality and ensuring an open line of communication between attorneys and clients throughout the proceeding. Some of the most useful tips included:
Those are just some of the highlights, and there’s even more to be found in each guide. So make sure to download them and give them a read. Of course, the courts that you appear in may have videoconferencing rules or customs specific to your region so keep an eye out for similar guides that are unique to the courts in your jurisdiction, as well.
Nicole Black is a Rochester, New York attorney, author, journalist, and the Legal Technology Evangelist at MyCase legal practice management software. She is the nationally-recognized author of “Cloud Computing for Lawyers” (2012) and co-authors “Social Media for Lawyers: The Next Frontier” (2010), both published by the American Bar Association. She also co-authors “Criminal Law in New York,” a Thomson Reuters treatise. She writes regular columns for Above the Law, ABA Journal, and The Daily Record, has authored hundreds of articles for other publications, and regularly speaks at conferences regarding the intersection of law and emerging technologies. She is an ABA Legal Rebel, and is listed on the Fastcase 50 and ABA LTRC Women in Legal Tech. She can be contacted at [email protected].