Challenges of Virtual Meetings in the Legal Sector

The Present Reality

If you had been on another planet for six months and returned, landing in the middle of your local town, you could be forgiven for thinking that your spacecraft had entered a parallel universe.

Very few of your usual frames of reference would be recognisable: streets virtually empty at peak times; shoppers queuing to enter shops and then studiously maintaining a two-metre distance from others; clothes shops and restaurants closed for weeks with no clarity as to when they would re-open.

With an eerie quiet all around, the world would indeed be a confusing place.

 

You would certainly quickly check the news reports to see – quite literally – what on earth had happened. You would then remain confused by the lack of people in the news studios. You might be surprised by the number of reporters reporting from their own homes!

But, the reality is that we are all gradually growing accustomed to – if not comfortable with – our new ‘normal’.

Lockdown Communication

Whilst the lack of in-person communication is difficult to take, many of us are fortunate enough to benefit from access to video technology. For even the most techno-phobic individuals, video conferencing has quickly become the norm when communicating with friends, family and colleagues.

However, things don’t always go to plan…

The Pitfalls of Video Meetings

With any new activity, there is an inevitable learning curve to navigate. You may well have found yourself more interested in the lamentable quality of the books on the bookshelves in the background of journalists’ rooms than the reports they’re actually delivering!

There are many awkward moments that will remain in digital heaven for an eternity too! Not least amongst these include a rather serious business executive delivering a presentation to her colleagues, whilst in the background – and for all to see – her scantily clad partner enters stage right eating a bowl of cereal. He quickly realises and exits.

Video Challenges in the Legal Sector

The courts have had to respond quickly to change their operations too.

Ministers have announced that emergency legislation will be brought forward that will allow more video hearings. The provisions will ensure individuals who may be forced to self-isolate are still able to appeal to a court. This means that courts can continue to accept and hear many cases – even in the height of the pandemic.

Teething Problems

The Law Society Gazette reported on a recent disciplinary tribunal hearing.

The video conferencing technology was behaving rather well until the barrister’s final submissions were being heard. He was then repeatedly interrupted by builders drilling in an adjacent property.

The chairwoman’s broadband was being updated, causing multiple breakdowns of her internet connection. This forced the unfortunate barrister to repeat his closing arguments three times.

This was nicely rounded off when the chairwoman – for the third time of asking – implored: “Can anyone hear me?” – her voice electronically distorted into a dalek-like rasp!

Whilst incidents such as this might be more difficult to avoid, a little preparation of your home environment can minimise the risk of personal embarrassment. This way, you can ensure a smooth and professional call.

Our Response

Whilst we can’t claim to be video conferencing experts, we are becoming increasingly adept at Zoom calls with our clients.   We have also responded effectively to reports that Zoom calls are not always secure, and we are confident that we are able to maintain client confidentiality. We are happy to help you discuss your needs, initially the good old fashioned telephone and then by conference call as appropriate. Contact us for tailored legal advice.