How Do I Hire a Lawyer When I Can’t See Them in Person?
The COVID-19 pandemic has created a global shift in how everyday workers conduct business, including lawyers. From typical office workers to teachers, operating remotely to limit person-to-person contact has become an everyday reality.
The pandemic is still an everyday issue in the United States and cases have continued to rise in many states. The CDC has issued several guidelines over time addressing how the virus can be controlled and limited in public and in the workplace. Workplace guidelines are simply guidelines, not requirements. For restaurants, gyms, and retail businesses, best practices are used, but unfortunately there is not a possibility for remotely going to a restaurant or gym. Those services are tied to being in person.
Offices, however, do have other options. Law firms in particular are adjusting significantly.
In the past, the typical client would arrive at a law office, meet with an attorney, fill out paperwork, and return to the office multiple times during representation. The lawyer would attend depositions, hearing, mediations, and trials all in person. Even then, technology had already been changing how lawyers conducted everyday business with electronic signatures and paperless files.
More recently, working from home and not conducting business in person has become a regular part of law practices. Many of the once required in-person events have shifted into using the new technology available. This includes Zoom, Skype, Google Hangouts, etc.
Depositions were already occurring by phone and video conference, but it’s likely this pandemic will make that shift more permanent. Hearing and mediations are likely to be governed according to the person conducting the event such as the mediator or judge.
One event that was never thought possible was an actual jury trial. Trials require many people to be involved. The lawyers involved always try to create a connection with the judge and juror to sway them in their direction. Whether it be to create emotion or empathy, the connection has been developed through words and speech, but also with physical proximity. However, Florida’s court system does have an obligation to keep justice moving and not allow one party to suffer unjustly when there are means to allow a trial to continue. Through Zoom and in Duval County, the first fully remote jury started August 6.
This is a brand-new experience for every lawyer, young and old. How each lawyer adapts to this technology will be important in how they represent their client in the future. Technology has been changing the way lawyers present their client’s cases over the years from poster boards to three dimensional images on computers.
According to a survey in June, more than half of the law firms polled were operating remotely either completely or partially. When it is determined that the pandemic is no longer an immediate threat for in-person interaction, there will have to be a longer discussion with offices as to whether this adjustment was for the better or worse. Clients have likely adjusted with an acknowledgement of the health concerns, but are they going to be fine with never meeting their attorneys or staff once it's not needed?
If the quality of the representation has not changed, the market might dictate that law firms have no need for fancy offices and clients need to get used to meeting lawyers by phone or video conference.
At Carrillo Injury Law, we focus on finding the best legal solutions for your personal injury or worker’s compensation claim. Reach out today by emailing email@example.com.