Aug 11 2021
Nicole Westbrook on Computer Home Visits, Client Management, and Summons (Video) – Litigation, Mediation & Arbitration
United States: Nicole Westbrook on Computer Home Visits, Client Management, and Summons (video)
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In an interview for Online litigation, Nicole Westbrook discussed several best practices for IT management, nervous customers and the possibility of extending subpoena power. Watch the interview here and read a summary of Nicole’s remarks.
An audience wants to be entertained. Anytime a litigant appears in front of six to 12 people in the jury gallery, the litigant knows they need to make a presentation to keep the “audience” engaged. The litigant is standing, moving, throwing flashy coins and timing the coins to arrive at the big moment of impeachment.
Audiences perched in front of an 11 x 17 inch screen want to sit down and forget where they are. This often happens in video testimony, for example, when a witness being interviewed fails to provide information, making it difficult for the public to quickly familiarize themselves with the witness and it is easy for the public to disconnect. Or, for example, in trade secret or intellectual property cases, where lawyers with a solid engineering background come to talk shop, jurors often struggle to stay awake.
With video depositions, litigants must approach arbitration and mediation differently, learn the platform and how to be entertained in an environment where energy comes from a single source, the presenting lawyer. For this litigant, that means taking a step back and seeing how Zoom has become an equalizer, where all the lawyers risk coming off as the same boring human being.
Recognizing these equalizing effects, a litigant can learn to rise above them.
SIMPLIFY THE CHALLENGES
Creating a tight, punchy, and flashy presentation requires preparation for a Zoom audience. Effects that come naturally to the courtroom may appear hollow on the small screen. Presentations on a Zoom platform can look alike unless a litigator conscientiously amplifies the surprise and intrigue, making the proceedings more interesting. Taking more breaks and making sure people pay attention to them before moving on works in favor of a lawyer.
An important feature of what litigators should do is simplify the narrative and the issues. A lawyer can file six claims before litigation, but only go to trial with the most substantiated claims. Even more important is to narrow down a case in video arbitration and mediation. The longer a video presentation, the greater the risk of losing listeners. No one has the capacity to sit and listen to an affair for five days on an artificial platform. By limiting the case and adding written briefing notes in advance, the issues are condensed and the trial proceeds more quickly. This narrower focus should be transferred and be useful in speeding up legal proceedings after the pandemic.
REDUCING THE COST OF LITIGATION
Some of the lessons learned during the pandemic will feed into day-to-day legal activities, making court proceedings easier, more convenient and less expensive. If a witness for a deposition or an expert witness for the trial does not need to travel, this represents a huge savings for the client. Reducing the cost of litigation means that some cases that were previously cost prohibitive can move forward.
Courts have now improved their technology to work remotely. The legal profession has been forced out of the nest to move on and learn a way to do things differently. One important change that could result is the expansion of subpoena power. Right now, a rule could prevent a lawyer from subpoenaing someone outside of a state or within a certain radius to the courthouse. With Zoom hearings, individuals can place their computer on their kitchen table and remotely in a lawsuit, making location unimportant. This would give lawyers access to witnesses who could never have been brought to justice before and allow live testimony in front of the jury via video stream – a much better viewing experience than having to replay a recorded game. of this deposition or to have an actress or actor read the transcript.
Some of the biggest issues seen during the pandemic have been related to what’s going on with the filters or in the background – the famous cat filter. These types of errors interfere with and distract from the procedure. An expert witness wearing a Van Halen t-shirt with posters of women in the background arrives and can be stressful. Depositions taken on a cell phone or tablet are also a mistake.
In general, however, people have been tolerant and flexible during the pandemic. They made it work and found ways to keep it going. The judges were kind, allowing mistakes and giving people time to get up to speed. It is heartwarming in our world.
Despite the advancement in remote technology capabilities, however, it is time to return to the courtroom. There is simply no substitute for being in person.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide on the subject. Specialist advice should be sought regarding your particular situation.
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