While virtual was the word of 2020, many courts may continue to use videoconferencing to host hearings for the foreseeable future.
Here are six best practices for you if you are heading into a virtual hearing:
- Know how to use the appropriate platform for your hearing. Not all courts use the same platform. The three most commonly used are Zoom, Cisco’s WebEx, and Microsoft Teams. At Cairns Rabiola Vance, LLC, we are equipped to use all of the videoconferencing platforms and are happy to do a trial run with clients prior to their hearing to ensure they know how to use the court’s platform.
- Think about what’s in your background. The background of your camera doesn’t have to be pristine or perfect, but it should not be distracting. Some judicial officers use a virtual background for themselves and at least one requires parties and counsel to use a digital background themselves to ensure that the background isn’t distracting.
- Dress like you are going to the court. You are going to be on camera at some point in time so wipe the dust off that suit jacket or dress and look the part. Even though you aren’t in person, it’s important to look like you are.
- Know how to mute yourself and turn off your camera when appropriate. However, also know the rules about your camera and microphone being on (some courts prefer that only the current witness and lawyer have their camera and mic on while others prefer that everyone’s camera stay on the whole time and only the mute feature be used). Whatever you do, don’t do this:
Poor Jennifer, she’s not used to this new life yet. 😂 😂 😂 pic.twitter.com/rHqGtITNSz
— Mike Lasley (@ybamik) March 21, 2020
- Be careful with your filter. While we are all painfully familiar with the “I’m not a cat” lawyer:
“I’m here live, I’m not a cat,” says lawyer after Zoom filter mishap“I can see that,” responds judge pic.twitter.com/HclKlAUwbM
— Lawrence Hurley (@lawrencehurley) February 9, 2021
Some of the platforms – specifically Zoom – have filters that can be opted to stay on until your next hearing. Ensure that you do not have any distracting filters turned on during your hearing.
- Find a quiet private space. If you live with other people, whether adults or children, ensure that you have a space where you can have privacy and quiet for hearing. Do not have anyone else in the room with you during your hearing unless you have permission from the court to do so. While you might be on mute for much of the hearing, you do not want an embarrassing situation like this to occur:
My kid just walked into my video conference, yelled “look at my penis,” and hit the button on his fart machine. Working from home going really great!
— Jenna Weiss-Berman (@WBJenna) March 17, 2020
If you follow these steps, not only will you avoid any embarrassing moments, but you will also set yourself up to have a successful virtual hearing. If you have an upcoming family law hearing in Indianapolis or a surrounding county, contact us to schedule a thirty-minute phone consultation to see if one of our attorneys might be a good fit for you.