Let’s address the elephant in the room and talk about the recent lawyer-cat fiasco. An attorney was joining a Zoom court hearing back in February, and couldn’t get the cat filter off his screen. The recording soon went viral. While no harm was done in this incident, it shows the importance of being prepared for video conferences and familiarizing yourself with different video calling software.
How can you avoid similar or even more serious mistakes when conducting business via video conferencing?
General video conferencing rules for lawyers
There are a few best practices to keep in mind for your video calls. When you’re dealing with a virtual court case, you should still dress as professionally as if you’re going into the actual courtroom. Don’t show up wearing a hat, t-shirt, or pajamas, for instance.
Another best practice is to use a background that won’t be distracting. Point your computer toward a blank or nondescript wall and don’t use any filters on Zoom (especially not a cat filter).
Just because a hearing is held remotely doesn’t mean you should show less respect for the process or the judge overseeing the case. Treat these interactions as you would in the actual courtroom.
5 tips for more seamless calls
Now that you know some best practices for attorneys, let’s walk through some general Zoom tips so that you don’t experience or cause lots of hiccups and annoyances during video calls and hearings.
1. Keep yourself muted unless you’re speaking
There’s nothing more distracting than hearing someone typing loudly on their keyboard or a family talk loudly in the background. Mute your microphone when it’s not your turn to talk. Just make sure you unmute when you’re ready to speak.
2. Don’t eat
Part of working from home is that you have more flexibility in your schedule. But don’t eat a meal or snack during a legal call. Even if you’re muted, this activity can be distracting and annoying to others.
3. Test your technology in advance
Do a test run before your video call. Make sure your camera works and is in a good position and that your audio is strong. Ask a friend to do a test call with you so you know everything is working properly. And, always be sure you have plenty of battery charge to last you through the call.
4. Turn off notifications
During meetings and hearings, make sure your notifications are turned off for messages, emails, or Slack pings. If they come up while you’re sharing your screen, this could turn into a privacy issue on top of just being annoying to viewers.
5. Sign on early
Finally, make sure you sign on a bit early to make sure there’s not a password or other obstacle keeping you from entering the call. Ensure the link works so you’re not scrambling when it’s time to start the meeting.
These tips will help you ensure you won’t have a snafu on Zoom like the infamous lawyer cat. Treat your online meetings just as professionally as you would any in-person appointment or hearing.
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