Zoom provides many benefits to family lawyers, which is why it can be a great tool to use. To prepare for a Zoom trial, there are a few things family lawyers should take into consideration.
By Natalie Bogdanski, Content Specialist
Do you know how to prepare for a Zoom trial or conference?
Zoom has helped courts cope during COVID-19, but a recent video that has gone viral demonstrates that there is more to attend to when you do a Zoom trial.
“Judge, I am here live, I’m not a cat!”
Texas lawyer Rod Ponton accidentally appeared with a cat filter on during a virtual court case in the 394th Judicial District Court of Brewster, Culberson, Hudspeth, Jeff Davis, and Presidio Counties yesterday. The video, which was uploaded by Judge Roy Ferguson from Texas, has gone viral, receiving over 4.5 million views.
In the video, Judge Roy Ferguson tells Ponton that he has a filter turned on in the settings. “I don’t know how to remove it. I’ve got my assistant here. She’s trying to [remove the filter]. I’m prepared to go forward with it. I’m here live, I’m not a cat.”
Judge Roy Ferguson states that the filter was removed quickly and the hearing went on as usual. Later, he tweeted “an important Zoom tip,” which read:
“If a child uses your computer before you join a virtual hearing, check the Zoom Video Option to be sure filters are off. This kitten just made a formal announcement on a case in the 39th.”
It Happens to the Best of Us
Mistakes happen. While this mishap was well-received by everyone involved, it could have easily gone the other way. This is why it is extremely important to be prepared for any Zoom trial or meeting.
Zoom provides many benefits to family lawyers, which is why it can be a great tool to use. Not only does it save time and costs, but it also allows lawyers to handle multiple cases in one day, eliminates long periods of waiting times at courthouses, and more. That being said, Zoom hearings do require quite a bit of planning. It is expected that you are prepared for your hearing before it even starts.
How to Prepare for a Zoom Trial: 12 Tips
To prepare for a Zoom trial, here are 12 tips family lawyers should take into consideration.
- Login to the meeting at least 10 minutes early. The judge expects everyone to be prepared.
- Don’t wait until the last minute to test your connection, video, and audio. Always do a test run to make sure all your equipment is working.
- Close all windows and programs you won’t need or the videoconference. If both have been on for a few days, consider restarting your computer and modem to help achieve a faster connection. Test your Internet speed before and after restarting to see if there’s a measurable difference.
- You must always be dressed in full court decorum. You can dress casually from the waist down – but if you do, do not stand up.
- Always check how you appear on the camera, the audio, your Zoom options, and preferences before joining the meeting.
- Use headphones with a microphone. That can improve sound quality and eliminate distortions.
- Double check the meeting’s start time (including time zone if you or another party will be joining from a different state or country).
- Make sure there are no audio or video distractions – like pets or children – in the room with you.
- Place the main source of light behind the camera and in front of your face. This prevents shadows or light flares from covering your face. Using a ring light is the easiest (and cheapest) way to ensure even lighting on your face.
- Remember: the background you used in your last Zoom call will appear on your next call unless you reset it.
- Develop a habit of switching the Zoom background to “None” before logging out.
- Prepare as though you were going to court – including having everything you’ll need for the trial within easy read on your desk.
Remember: Kitty Happens
Mistakes happen all the time. If you make a mistake during a Zoom hearing or have an embarrassing moment – accidentally appearing as a cat on the video, for example – remember to keep your sense of humor about it while staying professional. Tell the truth, apologize, and come better prepared next time. The people involved in the hearing may have a chuckle at your expense, but then you should be able to get on with the Zoom meeting.
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