Law Firms’ Experiences of Remote Court Hearings and Dealing with Clients During Covid-19
Like other sectors, the legal sector had to adapt in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. One significant change was the increased use of audio visual technology to facilitate remote court hearings.
At Fitting Image, we understand the specific needs of our clients and work to provide them with the best possible solutions. Security and quality are extremely important when it comes to providing AV and technological solutions, especially when it comes to the legal sector due to the often highly sensitive nature of their work. Fitting Image AV Sales Ltd. works closely with the Courts Service of Ireland to provide them with the best quality AV solutions for their needs. In our work with the Courts Service, Fitting Image partner with Pexip to provide our clients with secure video conferencing solutions.
We recently reached out to solicitors from two Irish law firms: Elaine Keane, Associate Solicitor, Mullany Walsh Maxwells LLP; and Julie O’Connell, Commercial and Banking Partner, Richard Black Solicitors, to ask them about their experience of remote court hearings and dealing with clients during the pandemic.
To find out more about their experiences, read on:
What has been the general experience of remote court hearings?
Elaine: Overall, our experience has been positive. The access to the remote hearings has worked well. We have not had any connection issues and the virtual environment has resulted in a more efficient use of time.
Julie: We have found that it saves a lot of time for us as we do not have to travel to court and can work on other items while waiting for a matter to be called. If matters are not contentious, it is just as effective as in-person hearings. The downside is that it can be tricky if you need to say something to the barrister either immediately before or during the hearing.
How has the in-court system enhanced the virtual Court experience for the legal practitioners?
Elaine: It has definitely helped with efficiency of time, which is very important for our profession.
Do you think this remote/partly remote Video Link service will continue to be used?
Elaine: The remote listing works well for some lists. For example, I am aware that the personal insolvency listings are working very well online. There will likely be a mix going forward. It does allow practitioners to attend court without commuting, which leads to a better use of time.
Julie: I think it will for suitable matters as it is more efficient and just as effective, especially for the many routine applications that are before the courts.
What are the main benefits of remote access to the courts for your firm?
Elaine: Ease of access, no commute to court, and cost saving for clients.
Julie: Time saving is by far the best benefit.
Are there any parts of the virtual set-up you would like to change? Why?
Elaine: No, I wouldn’t change anything in particular about the virtual set-up. However, it is very important that users remember that they are in a court of law. In this regard, a set of protocols would be a useful reminder on the platform when logging on.
How seamless was the initial transition for your staff and solicitors?
Elaine: We found the initial transition very seamless. Our systems were up and tested before we went into lockdown, so we could all access our files remotely over a secure network.
Julie: It took a bit of time at the start to get used to the system and find the links and coordinate with the barristers instructed, but we very quickly got used to it.
Did you have to supply specialist equipment/training to your solicitors in order to communicate with the Courts?
Elaine: No training was required in order to communicate with the courts. The office purchased laptops, additional screens and headsets to allow us to work remotely which have all been used to allow us to communicate with the courts service.
Julie: No, we just simply had to download the apps being used. It was simple and straightforward.
How did the Covid-19 pandemic change the way law firms deal with clients?
Elaine: It has now become acceptable to engage in virtual meetings through the use of platforms such as Zoom or Microsoft Teams. While face-to-face meetings will still be required, the availability of a virtual meeting has facilitated greater efficiencies when dealing with a client, and results in a saving of costs for the client. The virtual platforms have increased face-to-face contact which is beneficial to both the client and the legal advisor.
Julie: As a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, we have much fewer in-person meetings, and much more virtual ones on Microsoft Teams and Zoom.
The Courts Service in Ireland trust Fitting Image’s expertise to provide reliable AV solutions for the sensitive nature of their work. If you or your law firm would like advice or help with your AV setup, contact us at 01 460 2112 for assistance.