We’ve all now seen the video of the struggling lawyer trying to get to grips with video conferencing software and finding himself stuck with a kitten filter on while trying to address a judge.
It’s hard to imagine any business sector in the UK who has not embraced a form of video conferencing during the coronavirus crisis, whether that is Microsoft Teams, Zoom, Google Hangouts or another interactive platform.
It is expected that the pandemic will further speed the adoption of new ways of doing things and the benefits they bring will continue to transform the UK legal sector. Many new technologies have proven their value to solicitors and barristers in recent years but perhaps the true winners of the lockdown have been video conferencing (online meeting) and e-signature software.
In this article, we’ll consider:
- the implications of the successful embrace of video conferencing,
- the benefits of video conferencing to the legal sector, and
- security advice for law firms using videoconferencing
The implications of the successful embrace of video conferencing
Joanna Goodman of the Law Gazette also believes, like Sprout do, that the technological revolution underway in the legal sector is part of a much wide “generational shift in working practices (which has been) accelerated by the Covid-19 lockdown… (This) has far-reaching implications for legal tech. There will be no going back”.
For example, it would not surprise us to see, in the aftermath of the COVID-19 crisis and the recession it causes, legal firms significantly reducing the amount of floorspace they own or lease from landlords. Indeed, Ms. Goodman comments that “law firm leaders are likely to look more closely at their real estate and replace non-essential business travel with (secure) video conferencing”.
For legal firms struggling to embrace video conferencing, what are its benefits and its most practical uses in a remote and flexible working environment?
The seven more significant advantages of video conferencing technology for the legal sector
During the coronavirus crisis, Zoom’s app was downloaded over 50 million times according to the New Statesman. MarketWatch reported that the company’s active daily user count increased by 378% since March 22nd 2020 and that its shares had surged 50% in just over 4 weeks.
Whereas, prior to the crisis, 58% of businesses used some form of videoconferencing or online meetings, only 42% of legal firms did, according to Law Technology Today.
Microsoft Teams is one of a number of competing platforms for videoconferencing and online meetings but what specific advantages do legal firms benefit from by the use of this technology?
- 1. establishing relationships with clients – according to Evan Wade of telco Vonage, clients appreciate being able to see their legal representative even if on a digital screen. Videoconferencing can improve a client’s “gut feeling” about their solicitor or a barrister. This “gut feeling” matters because the resulting trust in that solicitor or barrister means that they’re more likely to “share information and follow instructions. Mastery of the law is only one factor when...establishing (new) relationships with clients”.
- 2. lower client servicing costs and higher staff productivity – videoconferencing can be used alongside visits to commercial clients’ premises so that your client still receives the personal level of attention they expect. The removal of travel time creates the opportunity to put colleagues to work on more productive and higher fee-generating activities.
- 3. collaboration on client documents – videoconferencing and online meeting software allows participants to collaborate, edit, and finalise documentation used shared screens. Work which may normally be delayed because of the difficulty in arranging a face-to-face meeting can now be completed much quicker.
- 4. better internal communications – for legal firms operating from multiple locations, board-level meetings, departmental meetings, and case-related meetings can be arranged at very short notice.
- 5. remote training sessions – likewise, multiple users (numbering into the hundreds) can take part in videoconferencing and online meeting means that the same training can be delivered by the same person to colleagues at their desks wherever they are.
- 6. flexible internal employment practices – there has been a growing demand among employees in all sector for the right to be able to work from home or remotely – a trend greatly accelerated by the COVID-19 crisis. The ability to offer home and flexible working offers the companies providing it with a distinct advantage in the competition to attract and retain talent.
- 7. piggybacks on existing technology – videoconferencing and online meeting software functions well on nearly all devices meaning, other than investing in video cameras to be placed on top of colleagues’ desktop monitors, there is little to no capex needed in the technology.
Security advice for law firms using videoconferencing
Security advice for law firms using videoconferencing
With all technology including the technology used in videoconferencing and online meeting provision, there are vulnerabilities present in the security architecture of the hardware and the software.
This statement implies no lack of due care or consideration on the part of the technology providers – indeed, cybersecurity is a battle between one group of the world’s best and brightest trying to stop another group of the world’s best and brightest from stealing data.
Sprout IT’s advice to law firms is as follows:
- use enterprise-grade security on video conferences – many thousands of full online private recordings of sessions were recently discovered on the dark web when cybercriminals searched for meetings using Zoom’s file naming conventions. Encrypt and protect all meetings.
- make sure that you have the latest patches for all the hardware and software used to provide videoconferencing and online meetings. Better still, ensure that you turn on the “automated update/upgrade” setting.
- require that all attendees use a password to enter the room and verify all attendees when their username appears on screen.
- only invite attendees using the service – don’t send links via email or social media. Likewise, if you receive what appears to be an invitation where the link ends “.exe”, don’t click it.
- when all attendees have arrive, lock the meeting down.
- be sure to let all attendees know in advance that the meeting is being recorded if that is what you are doing.
And finally, remember to always check to see if you have switched off any filters before displaying your video when undertaking professional calls.
Call to action – Sprout IT
Whatever the future shape or headcount of your organisation, work with Sprout IT to deliver the technology, the software, the hardware, and the security required to make the most from videoconferencing and online meeting technology.
Please call Sprout IT today on 020 7036 8530 or email us here.