As of now, and predictably going forward, litigation will most likely evolve into a hybrid system, with some proceedings held in person and others remaining virtual.
Many attorneys are conducting having early-stage motions and other orders virtually. Even opening statements might be prerecorded and then shown to a live or virtual jury.
Handling Online Court Appearances
Some say that the public is ready now to have virtual court appearances. Many clients just want their litigation matters to move forward without further delay. Training continues for judges and attorneys to more quickly expand litigation options – both in-person and online.
Consider these tips as we move the litigation process forward:
Be Ready and Arrive Early
Be certain to test your devices before the start of any appearance. Arrive to any online conferencing platform 10 to 15-minutes before the scheduled start. Test your audio and camera. Is your image clear? Avoid virtual backgrounds as they tend to make peoples hair, face and arms have disconcerting movements. Have a clear, clean “office” that is not cluttered or distracting.
Are you well lit? Lighting is best if it comes from the side as overhead lights can at times create unwanted shine and shadows. Be certain to look right into the camera when you are speaking.
In the Courtroom
Be certain to ascertain the court’s preferred format for documents. How far in advance does the court expect to receive documents to allow adequate time for review?
Zoom and other online videoconferencing platforms offer breakout rooms that enable for attorneys to confer with their clients and to check in with witnesses, parties, and staff. This is becoming a well-used function to process legal matters.
Inquire how your judge and courtroom wish to display exhibits. Be sure to practice retrieving and sending your documents so you are comfortable with accessing them.
Rehearse online to be certain your audio is functioning well and review the rehearsal video to check the speed and volume of your remarks. “Schedule” pauses in your delivery to be certain there is a place for remarks or answers to your questions. We have all experienced Wi-Fi that is interrupted or of intermittent quality. Check the bandwidth of the system you are using to be certain your remarks can be heard without interruption or distortion.
If you are working remotely, consider how you can eliminate interruptions from others in your home/office while you are videoconferencing. Don’t let an informal appearance damage the perception of your professionalism. You’re in court – be certain to be dressed accordingly.