Tips and Thoughts on the Virtual Trial Experience

  • December 02, 2020
  • Malini Vijaykumar, employment and labour lawyer, Nelligan Law

It’s fair to say that this year has brought its fair share of unique practice experiences to all of us. For me, one of those unique experiences was my first-ever “Zoom trial”. Although this was a first time for me, something tells me Zoom trials will start to become more and more normal – even after the pandemic is long over.

As a result, I thought I would share some tips and thoughts on the virtual trial experience in terms of logistics, etiquette, and what I personally found did and did not work. These tips are contextual to the particular situation, of course; your mileage may vary.

Before Trial: Communications with Counsel and Summons Format

Pre-Trial Correspondence with Counsel

In order to try and streamline things as much as possible before the trial, we corresponded with opposing counsel about 45 days beforehand to confirm consent to a joint book of documents, consent to proceed with the trial via videoconference, and consent to examine witnesses virtually in the unlikely event that the court would require in-person attendance of counsel and clients. Sorting these issues out ahead of time and obtaining consent to virtual witness examinations helped to lend some amount of certainty to an inherently uncertain procedure. It helped to know, for example, that we would not be challenging each other’s form of summons.