Legal Teams Share Impact Of Technologies For Better Or Worse On Their Practices
The use of technology such as Zoom, WebEx, Microsoft Teams and more have begun to change the way law firms acquire and meet with clients, as well as how they manage staff during these tumultuous times. As we all know, technology is literally changing the way we do business in America, and not only in the legal profession. Today more than ever, these technological changes are impacting every conceivable business, including law firms. We sat down to speak with attorneys across the country to hear what they had to say regarding the impact technology is having on their practices – good or bad. Kelly Twigger, of ESIA Attorneys in Boulder, CO shared: “All of us are in the same situation in America right now, yet these times have benefited us in a few key ways. We have been able to go remote by shutting down our offices, letting a lease go, and being leaner as an organization.
We already did much of our work remotely prior to the current situation. We were already using Zoom, Slack, and other tech, so it’s been mostly a location change more than anything else…
The best thing about it is it has pushed us to hire more remote talent and increase time spent on the management of the team and staff. Overall, it has required us to be much more focused which is a good thing.”
Shakeba DuBose, of The DuBose Law Firm in Columbus, OH said: “I have been working remotely from home for nearly 3 years. Thanks to technology, most of my clients have not realized that I have been working from home because I still meet them at the office when necessary. Over the past 7 years, I have also worked remotely when I travel domestically and internationally. So, I have not had to transition or adapt in recent months.
However, my utilization of technology has been increasing in recent months mainly because the courts and state/local agencies have had to adapt to using technology during the current situation. I have always thought there should be a better use of technology in the legal profession and legal system because it improves access for all and is more efficient. So, my hope is that this technological trend will be sustained hereafter.“ Marcus Carey, of Marcus Carey Law in Erlanger, KY had this to say: “I’ve used technology in a couple of different ways as of late, such as Zoom meetings with lawyers and depositions, as well as client meetings, and it’s worked well. I have already been working remotely for the last ten years where we have utilized a VPN, so technology in and of itself is nothing new to me. This new environment hasn’t changed much for me, except that it’s brought a whole lot of new people on board trying to use technology and it’s complicated the practice of law here in Kentucky.” Noah Munyer of Malarcik, Pierce, Munyer & Will said: “The current situation in America today reminds you that you and I are small in a big world – it’s humbling. We’ve proven that we don’t all have to be waiting around in the courthouse and so on. What we’re seeing is that using technology like Zoom is both time-saving and money-saving, and is making our lives simpler yet better” Jason Marquez, of Marquez Law in Denver, CO said:
“I don’t have a single piece of paper on my desk right now, so using technology amidst the current environment has been very comfortable for me. I am happy that it is forcing courts to really get up to speed.
Virtual hearings reduce costs and improve efficiency and timeliness for the Court and all participants.
Despite a multitude of glitches such as parties’ using inferior devices, lack of bandwidth or coverage, background noise and distractions, or other technical issues, virtual court appearances are here to stay. I even have several virtual hearings all the way into October on my calendar right now.
Virtual hearings have helped me be far more effective and efficient, but they do come with some disadvantages. For example, you lose the impact of face-to-face contact and the ability to observe mannerisms and demeanor, especially when assessing credibility. You also lose the intimidation factor that comes when staring down a witness. I think the Courts are going to be balancing all of the advantages to the Court and participants with these disadvantages. My guess is that there will be a permanent option to proceed virtually in many critical events such as evidentiary hearings and trials, and a mandate perhaps for more procedural events such as status conferences and review hearings.” Steve Hanudel, of Stephen Hanudel Law, said: “The biggest impact of technology in 2020 on my law practice is holding meetings and court hearings and pretrials over Zoom. Prior to this year, I had never used Zoom or even had it as an app on my phone. It definitely helps in that I can be at home and not have to go through the motions of dressing up in a full suit and driving to court for a conference that is a half-hour or less, especially when that is the only one of the day. Of course, I try to look presentable over Zoom, even in casual dress.
I expect that technology will continue to have an enormous impact. Even when things settle down, I expect that many routine court pre-trials will be held over Zoom. However, hearings in which evidence and testimony are taken will still have to be done in person. When it comes to discussing documents and challenging one’s credibility in front of a judge or jury, there is no technology right now that can truly replicate that.
As far as the relationship with my clients, it is often helpful that they can text me because they can shoot me a quick message without the invasive and interruptive nature of a phone call, especially if we had been talking frequently already. On the other hand, when I have a stack of things to do and need to focus on completing those tasks, their ability to reach me instantly can come across as trying to skip to the front of the line.” Attorneys in almost every area of practice have always played a key role in making sense of unsettling times, and this won’t be changing in the foreseeable future.
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