ZOOM VIDEO CONFERENCING, PART II
Since many (but not all of you) have been involved in one or more Zoom mediations the last several weeks, I thought some helpful hints regarding that process would be welcome. Before discussing those ideas, I hope everyone is staying healthy in these difficult times.
The impact of video conferencing on future legal affairs is still not known, but it’s fair to say that it has many more plusses than minuses and will continue to be a part of the practice of law, including mediations. Some of the positives of video conferencing are that parties do not have to travel to the mediation – there’s no more contending with big city traffic, time and money are saved and aggravation is reduced. When a mediator is with the opposing party, attorneys can use that “dead time” more effectively since they have immediate access to all of their files and memoranda in unrelated cases. Clients need not be physically present with their attorneys as they can participate from separate locations. And, video conferencing works – I’m settling cases on Zoom at the same rate when I was mediating in person. Now for the helpful hints:
Before the mediation, exchange cell phone numbers and email addresses with the mediators. Cell phones, instead of separate breakout rooms, provide a way to talk about issues that cannot be discussed in front of the clients. Emails are necessary to forward or exchange documents, exhibits and settlement agreements.
Assure Zoom security by using a secured, stable internet connection, instead of a public wi-fi network. The security of the conference is further enhanced by passwords.
Place light in front of rather than behind you to better highlight your face. Rear lighting (including open windows) hides and darkens faces.
When using a laptop, place it on a box or large book so that the camera in the device is at eye level; otherwise, you’re looking down at the screen rather than at the other participants.
Keep the background uncluttered to minimize distractions.
Use a headset to reduce noise. “Mute” your mic, when not in use, to minimize background noise.
Text, call or email mediators during the mediation when you are ready to speak to them and have not told them when to return to your breakout room.
Most important, stay well!
Judge Michael D. Marcus (Ret.)
ADR Services, Inc.
1900 Avenue of the Stars, Suite 250
Los Angeles, California 90067