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By Doug Wolfe, Esq., Managing Director, Corporate Recovery
With the easing of COVID restrictions — and in some cases, a complete return to pre-pandemic business as usual — most courts have transitioned to some form of in-person hearings.
Because videoconferencing has proven to be a valuable tool in moving cases forward, it may even become a permanent part of court operations. Clearly it saves both attorneys and clients time and eliminates the need for travel, but at what cost?
According to Clio’s 2021 Legal Trends Report, “In 2018— those fancy-free times before COVID-19 — no more than 4 percent of clients wanted to communicate by videoconference at any stage. As remote work has become more commonplace, that’s changed; for many stages of a matter, more than half of consumers are open to a Zoom meeting (or Teams or Google Meet, et cetera). However, it’s important to note that at no stage is videoconference the No.1. choice.”
My grandfather said that to really know someone, you have to meet them face-to-face, shake their hand, and look them in the eye. I’m pretty sure he wasn’t referring to an alternative to a Zoom call; he likely meant the telephone. In my opinion, video conferencing will never be considered a complete substitute for in-person hearings. Certain aspects of communication can only be felt when you are in the same room with the other party.
The sender-message-channel-receiver dynamic is more complicated than just words and should be adjusted accordingly based on the content and purpose of the message. Additionally, the in-person social interaction may expand the message or work at hand into something even more productive and beneficial to those present.
A combination of the two mediums will likely develop. Hopefully, we will all remember that there is a difference.