What’s 'netiquette' for lawyers on Zoom?
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Even if you are on mute, talking during a Zoom meeting is rude because it shows you are not listening. It’s also a bad idea to drive your car while using the platform. And if everyone else has their camera turned on during a Zoom meeting, you should too, so work flow is not interrupted.
Juda Strawczynski, a director for the Lawyers’ Professional Indemnity Company in Canada, shared these tips, which he described as “netiquette,” at a Tuesday event titled “Lawyer’s Guide to Zoom” at the ABA Techshow 2021.
“We will be using these sorts of technology well into the future because clients want it—it’s cost-effective. It won’t replace every face-to-face meeting, but we will use this technology going forward,” said Strawczynski, who manages a claims and risk initiative for LAWPRO.
Within five minutes of the presentation, he mentioned the infamous “I am not a cat” Zoom video, in which a Texas attorney accidentally used a filter that made him look like a kitten during a virtual court hearing.
“Play (on Zoom) before your first court appearance or client engagement. Call a friend and set up a Zoom time,” he explained.
Also, he suggested putting something behind your video camera to look at during the meeting—he used his daughter’s stuffed animal—so you appear engaged and are not looking off screen.
Zoom backgrounds are also important, as are microphones and internet connections. Buy more bandwidth if you’re working from home with Wi-Fi issues, Strawczynski said.
Also, he uses a USB microphone, rather than a wireless device, during meetings because he’s an “active speaker,” and physical gestures cause unwanted noise. Additionally, you can filter out noise on the Zoom platform.
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Scheduling a Zoom meeting for somewhat longer than you expect it to go is also a good idea, according to Strawczynski. Clients appreciate events ending early and giving them five minutes of free time, he explained. Also, he said Zoom fatigue is a real thing, so keep meetings short when possible.
LAWPRO posts articles with Zoom tips, including a piece by Strawczynski focused on security with the platform. He also noted that attorneys can find Zoom meeting advice from bar groups, including the Florida Bar and the State Bar of Michigan.
Client control was also addressed, and Strawczynski advised preparing clients for virtual court appearances and settlement conferences just like you would if the events were in person. He also had tips for lawyers meeting one-on-one with clients.
“If it’s the first time you are engaging with a client, you want to be prepared to share documents and help them see them in real time. Think ahead of time about what the meeting is intended to achieve and set an agenda. If it’s for client intake, tell the client what to expect during the meeting and how far into the details you will need to get,” Strawczynski explained.
He also suggested including contact information in communications leading up to the meeting.
“In the meeting invite, add a little piece that says: ‘If we get disconnected, you can reach me at X,’” he added.