Tag: Virtual Meeting
Working from home in recent weeks has meant that virtual meetings are becoming the norm for many, both socially and professionally. With that comes a view of us in our homes that others did not previously have. While it is acceptable to dress casually while sitting on the sofa with a drink in hand during a social on-camera get together, a business meeting often means adhering to a more formal dress code and sitting in a more neutral location in your home. Elevate that meeting to a virtual court attendance, and the requirement to preserve decorum is all the more essential.
Unfortunately, it seems that not everyone appreciates the importance of these common-sense expectations. This led to a Broward County judge reprimanding attorneys for attire infractions, reported here, which included appearing shirtless and appearing in bed under the covers!
Although I had a good chuckle over this, it does remind us of the importance of maintaining appearances in a professional setting, which can also positively impact our performance. So the next time you are tempted to attend a work meeting or court hearing in your bedroom with a casual shirt on, consider wearing a blazer and sitting in your home office instead. But please stay seated, and we won’t tell anyone about the sweat pants!
Have a great day,
The COVID-19 pandemic has forced the legal community to re-evaluate the way in which negotiations and hearings are typically conducted. Instead of doing things primarily in person, alternatives which do not require people to be in the same physical space are now being pursued.
As the courts are currently only hearing urgent matters, we launched an Estates Arbitration and Litigation Management (“EALM“) initiative last week in an effort to move estate matters forward during the COVID-19 pandemic. Through arbitration, the EALM initiative addresses procedural (and certain substantial) issues for which the court’s direction would normally be sought. The arbitrations are conducted by senior members of the Estates Bar and take place via teleconference or video conference. These measures have already been successfully employed by the Family Law Bar.
In their own efforts to move matters forward, an entire trial was conducted over Skype in the United Kingdom. The trial revolved around whether a stroke victim in his 70s should continue to receive tube feeding and hydration. The platform allowed participants to see and hear each other and for the trial to be recorded. The trial occurred over three days and consisted of multiple participants, including a judge, lawyers, 11 witnesses, three experts and two journalists.
While virtual trials may not happen anytime soon in Canada, after the success of the Skype trial in the United Kingdom, perhaps virtual trials are something we can expect in the near future. Virtual mediations and arbitrations are a welcomed first step.
Thanks for reading and be safe.
Suzana Popovic-Montag and Celine Dookie
Mediation, with plenary sessions, small break-out rooms for parties and their counsel, and a mediator shuttling between the rooms seem like a distant, archaic memory. The former format of mediation is the antithesis of social distancing.
(I find it hard to now watch a tv show or movie without thinking to myself, “That’s not very good social distancing.”)
However, the show, litigation and mediations, must go on. Welcome to the age of virtual mediation.
Programs such as Zoom allow for parties to meet and discuss ideas and resolve differences without being physically in the same room. While the virtual alternative is not perfect, it is workable.
With Zoom, there are a few ways for mediations to be accommodated. One option is for the organizer to set up several online meetings: one to be used as a plenary session where everyone has access, and one for each of the parties to the litigation. In the plenary room, all of the parties and their counsel can join. In the parties’ separate room, only the party and their counsel can participate, with the mediator joining and leaving as necessary.
Another option is for the organizer to set up one meeting. The organizer would be able to admit participants into the meeting room, or put them into a virtual “waiting room” while others remain in the meeting room.
Another consideration when organizing a Zoom mediation is to ensure that the organizer has a Pro account or better. While the Basic account is free, it only allows for meetings of 40 minutes or less. The Pro account, at $20 per month per host, allows for meetings of up to 24 hours, which should probably enough for most mediations. (Some mediators are slow mediators: you know who you are.)
Some reporting services are offering virtual mediation assistance. Neesons, for example, can offer extensive technical support for mediations, examinations and arbitrations. They have also hosted a number of presentations on virtual examinations, arbitrations and mediations. Contact them if you want more information.
(Fun fact: Zoom Video was trading at $68.04 on December 31, 2019. On March 23, 2020, it was trading at $159.56. As of the time of writing this (April 2, 2020), share prices had relaxed to $118.10.)
Thank you for reading. Stay healthy. Practice safe litigation.