Although we are two years out from when the COVID-19 outbreak shut down the world, it is not yet clear what our “new” normal will actually look like on the other side of the pandemic. That being said, the likelihood that the transition to virtual litigation that has occurred over the past two years is here to stay is pretty high. This includes some aspects of remote depositions, mediations, court hearings, and even trials being an option that will remain for the foreseeable future.
Virtual Litigation Pointers
Below are some practical tips for lawyers to effectively and persuasively advocate on behalf of clients in a virtual litigation setting, according to Law.com.
● Preparation is key: Attorneys and their staff are no longer expected to struggle when dealing with video conference technology–even if it is unfamiliar to them. While lack of familiarity can be a forgivable issue in a less formal setting, it is distracting and takes away from even the best case in the context of a virtual hearing or deposition. For this reason, you should always confirm the type of service that will be used, have emergency IT contact information on hand, consider downloading the program on a second device in the event of sudden wifi loss, and even schedule a trial run if needed.
● Be Open to New Procedures: Many courts have specific rules regarding introducing witnesses and evidence, using exhibits and other details during an in-person court appearance. Some rules may not transfer over easily (or the same) to remote hearings and depositions. Because courts do not always provide amended guidelines pertaining to virtual proceedings, working together with opposing counsel to agree on ground rules prior and, if necessary, jointly submitting this to the court.
● Appearance Still Matters: Most lawyers adopt the same dress code for virtual court appearances and depositions as what they would use when conducting these proceedings in person. In the early stages of the pandemic, some judges made news headlines for reprimanding counsel for dressing too casually. Before appearing, review your video set up including microphone, lighting, and camera angling. Also, keep a straight face at all times as you are on video and any facial reactions will likely be seen by all.
It is important to understand that presenting a case virtually is more than just merely looking into your computer’s camera. For this reason, all lawyers will benefit from taking a prep course for virtual proceedings and applying what is learned to develop skills that can be used throughout their legal careers. And, hopefully, the above tips can help you smoothly navigate virtual litigation.
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