In today’s article, I’ll offer some tips for getting the most out of working with your remote lawyer. As of today, it’s been just over two years since the pandemic hit and completely changed how many people do their work. That includes lawyers and the court system.
For many people, that’s a real improvement over how things were done in the past. It can be challenging to find time in your day to meet with your lawyer or attend court hearings. Technology has made this much easier but it’s not without its downsides. So let’s talk about some of the pros and cons of working with a remote lawyer.
Zoom meetings and confidentiality
First, let’s talk about Zoom and other kinds of video-based meetings.
While it’s not the same as an in-person meeting, a video meeting can help establish a connection between two people much more so than just a typical phone call. The thing to keep in mind though, is that when you and your lawyer are meeting, you have what’s called confidentiality or “attorney-client privilege.”
That’s the right to keep your communications with your lawyer protected from disclosure and confidential. That is, neither you nor your lawyer have to share what is said between you.
But this privilege can be given up or undermined if other people are in the room with you or can overhear your conversations. The mere presence of a third party during an attorney-client communication can break the privilege. Now that isn’t going to be a big problem when you meet in your lawyer’s conference room. But what about during a Zoom call you’re taking in the living room of your shared apartment? Or at your office during your lunch hour?
These are not private places and they can compromise confidentiality.
Make sure that you’re in as private a place as you can be while having a Zoom conversation with your lawyer. Close the door, shut the window, and put your headphones on. Ask others to leave the room if need be and be sure that your electronic devices like Alexa or Siri aren’t listening either. Either shut them off or move them to another room during your call.
How to share files and documents with your remote lawyer
In the old days, we had to mail or hand-deliver documents to our lawyers. Document scanning has come a long way in the past few years. Anybody with a smartphone now has a high-quality scanner right in their pocket. And it can be a great way to share documents with your lawyer.
Now here’s a pro tip:
Whether your phone is from Apple or Google or another brand be sure to download an actual scanner app from the ‘App Store.’ These apps are inexpensive and do a great job of keeping your documents organized. They can even scan multiple pages at once.
Try to avoid just taking photographs of documents!
The quality usually isn’t very good and most lawyers have special tools which read the text off of scan documents. Also, photos do not reproduce well and appear unprofessional in a legal setting, which can affect how people judge your case.
Establish communication expectations early
Finally, let’s talk about communications. It’s only recently that people have had any other option besides writing a letter or making a phone call to communicate with their lawyer. Email, text, and specialized client portals offer an array of options for communication between you and your lawyer.
Given the number of options out there, you must have a conversation with your lawyer early about your communication preferences.
If you like email, say so. If your lawyer wants you to use a special tool, he or she should tell you that early. You want to get on the same page about this so that you’re not missing each other.
Generally speaking, I don’t recommend using text messaging to contact your lawyer. Often text messages are very difficult to keep track of. Most lawyers aren’t expecting texts from clients. And this may result in a delay in getting back to you.
When it comes to email communication, generally speaking, it’s fine but I have a couple of pointers for you here:
Number one: don’t share any medical information by email.
Number two: don’t share anything with your social security number by email.
These documents contain highly sensitive information and you don’t want to take any chances that anyone besides you and your lawyer see them. When you need to share medical information or anything with your social security number or tax information, have a conversation with your lawyer about the best way to share that information.
Summary: Getting the most out of working with your remote lawyer
So here’s what I hope you’ll take away from today’s article.
Number one: remember that your communications between you and your lawyer are private and confidential. Don’t break confidentiality by allowing others to listen in.
Number two: learn how to use a document scanner on your computer or smartphone so that you can share high-quality document images with your lawyer. Don’t just take photographs of documents.
Number three: Don’t share sensitive information such as medical records or anything with your social security number by email.
Contact Us Today
If you want to speak with experienced Vermont personal injury lawyer Drew Palcsik about your injury claim, feel free to call my office or send me a message using the contact form. I serve clients at offices in Burlington and Middlebury, Vermont, and Plattsburgh, New York.