COVID-19 has transformed the day-to-day practice of law from bustling offices to an industry of remote workers overnight. Lawyers have had to rapidly transform their methods of communication, largely turning to video conferencing platforms to perform functions that used to be reserved for in-person attendance.
Several video conferencing platforms have boomed from relative obscurity to essential services in this transition to remote work. Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Google Hangouts, Cisco WebEx, WhatsApp, Skype, BlueJeans (to name just a few) have all seen a tremendous rise in user base since the COVID-19 pandemic began.
Zoom has emerged as a popular favourite for professionals, students, family and friends as a means to connect with the world while practicing social distancing. In March 2020, Zoom ballooned to 200 million daily meeting participants, up from 10 million in December 2019.
In a move that many would have thought impossible only a few months ago, video conferencing platforms are now being used in legal practice for trials, commissions and notarizations, witnessing will signings, multiparty discoveries, mediations, negotiations, the list goes on and on…
However, lawyers face a unique set of obligations when performing their services via video conferencing. The move to video conferencing may be essential to practicing law in the time of COVID-19, but careful consideration should be paid to ensuring that ethical, professional, privacy and cybersecurity obligations have been met to protect clients. This involves an in-depth understanding of platform features, options and risks to ensure best practices are followed.