COVID and Technology in Family Law
Everyone knows how COVID has affected our daily routine and forced an increase in the use of technology. The court system and attorneys have adopted technology to keep cases moving forward. At the beginning of this process, attorneys discovered that using virtual meetings to conduct client consults and client meetings was not only effective in preventing exposure to COVID but, in the long run, could increase productivity without losing the human interaction or attorney-client bond.
Traditionally, potential clients met with the attorney in the office during an initial consultation. Face-to-face meetings allowed handshakes, reassurance by the attorney consoling a client, and time to create a bond between client and attorney. With the increase in virtual meetings due to COVID, clients who need human interaction or reassurance that the other person is engaged and paying attention to their concerns can still have eye contact, see the attorney’s engagement and have the interaction they need. Virtual meetings allow attorneys and clients to share screens, compare versions of documents, and have meetings from anywhere.
Other clients do not need visual confirmation from the attorney. Some clients have already created a bond with their attorney or find that phone consultations are sufficient to meet their needs. Clients that are not tech-savvy may find that telephone conferences, while not preferred, are still an effective tool during this pandemic.
Many mediators in family law are using virtual meetings in the mediation process. Virtual meeting platforms allow the parties to be in separate virtual rooms that the mediator can move between during the mediation process. Similar to the client meetings discussed above, the mediator can share their screen to review documents and offers or counteroffers with each party. Virtual meetings allow parties, especially parties experiencing contentious divorces, the ability to be more relaxed and at ease in a safe and secure space.
Some local attorneys in the Piedmont Triad area are becoming very efficient at having remote hearings. The virtual platforms often make some clients feel less intimidated by the court setting while giving testimony. Clients can also avoid a courtroom full of people watching them testify. They may only see the judge, their counsel, opposing counsel, and the other party depending on the virtual platform. Having virtual court hearings has led to the development of additional rules for the hearing of testimony and evidence presentation. Your attorney can advise specific changes based on your county’s particular rules.
Virtual hearings have reduced travel time, expenses of travel, expenses of parking, and waiting times in the courthouse. By reducing waiting times in the courthouse, the courts are also reducing exposure among parties to the case, attorneys, and court personnel.