The rise in virtual meetings can offer tremendous benefits for lawyers and their legal teams—far beyond just internal staff meetings and business-related communications. Virtual meetings can also expedite official legal proceedings like arraignments, depositions and witness testimonies. All while minimizing the time and effort that legal firms and their partners need to spend communicating and traveling. This efficiency means more billable hours.
While virtual meetings can save law firms plenty of time and money, it’s important to remember a few things:
1. Know the legal restrictions on technology for the courtroom.
There are rules on local, state, and federal levels about how virtual meetings and video conferences should be operated and what constitutes an official court record. Investigate the specific rules for your location.
2. Vet your collaboration tools carefully.
Make sure your virtual collaboration software can support the specific functionality your legal team needs. Here’s one podcast on how one tool (Microsoft Teams) works for legal firms.
3. Buy hardware devices with good cameras and microphones.
To be suitable for use in court, video conferences and recordings must reliably produce a clear picture with clear audio. It may be worth investing in newer hardware devices that offer improved clarity, resolution, and sound quality. Check out these conferencing tips and guidance on external microphones and conferencing cameras. Popular choices that offer good value are the RODE NT-USB Mini microphone and the Kandao Meeting conference camera. Both plug into a USB port on your computer. If you don’t have enough USB slots on your computer, get an inexpensive “hub” such as the Sabrent 4-port USB 3.0 hub, which allows you to plug four USB devices into one USB port on your computer.
3. Invest in good audio.
Make sure your lawyers and supporting staff members have quality wired or Bluetooth headsets so they can easily tune out background noise and ensure crisp, clear communication. Here’s one set of reviews. The lawyers we work with report liking the Jabra Evolve 80 headset because of its high-quality sound and excellent noise-canceling technology.
4. Ensure airtight security.
You need to take every precaution to make sure the videos remain strictly private and don’t end up online or in the wrong hands. Consider having a security audit from a trusted IT partner to ensure your security is strong.
5. Invest 5-10 minutes to learn your conferencing software’s capabilities.
If you’re hosting a meeting with multiple guests, it pays to know (in advance) how to mute/unmute participants, turn off a participant’s video, or dismiss participants if necessary. If you’re using a new platform, take the time to view the tutorial. (For Zoom, you’ll find several useful tips in this 12-minute video.)
6. Let your brand speak for itself.
Consider creating a company-branded background or virtual background with your firm’s logo or office building. It offers a professional touch to the meeting while promoting your practice. If you have your firm’s logo saved as a graphic (.jpg, .png, .gif) on your computer, you’ve got a head-start. Follow the directions in this short video to upload it as a custom image background on Microsoft Teams.
As long as software applications are vetted and used properly, there’s no reason why lawyers can’t take advantage of these new and continually advancing communications tools to improve their efficiency and bill more hours— which is hugely beneficial to a firm.