The case for the use of videoconferencing in the legal system is a strong one. In fact, it’s becoming an increasingly popular way to modernize and streamline communication and facilitate efficiency in certain courtroom proceedings. Here’s a look at precisely how videoconferencing is helping to transform the legal system.
Depositions/Testimony. Using videoconferencing for out-of-court depositions or remote testimony is substantially better than settling for written or audio transcripts containing the same information. The obvious benefit here is reduced travel expenses for all parties, but there’s more to it—video recordings allow judges and juries to examine body language, nuance, and tone in responses, cornerstones for determining the trustworthiness of speakers. In addition, many videoconferencing options provide simple ways to stream, record and archive these testimonies, helping to streamline the organization of what can often become large, tangled legal files.
Training. The legal system is an inherently evolving one, and vital training occurs frequently to keep up. Desktop video conferencing can make these legal training sessions more collaborative and productive, as participants can have discussions via chat or make comments on files while training is ongoing. This is especially helpful when partners are supervising junior-level colleagues or when multiple teams are working together on a case.
Client Communications. When communicating with clients, face-to-face contact of some sort is preferable across most industries. There are a few circumstances, though, that hinge a bit more on building trust and picking up nonverbal cues: Physician/patient and attorney/client communications, for example, often require a level of engagement a phone call or email cannot provide. In these instances, videoconferencing provides an accessible solution.
Arraignments. The Detroit Free Press reported that videoconferencing equipment was installed in every courtroom in Michigan’s 77 counties, totaling over 350 “virtual courtrooms.” The environments specifically allow for video arraignments from jail or testimony from incarcerated individuals, improving courtroom safety without sacrificing due process or diminishing any of the pre-trial process. These video arraignments are cost-effective, too: The Michigan Department of Corrections conducted over 4,000 video transports in 2014 with an estimated taxpayer savings of $2.6 million. According to the report, this virtual court environment could also help reduce costs in civil cases if attorneys can conduct simple court business via video without incurring the associated travel costs. For these reasons, the popularity of digital arraignments is expected to continue to grow.
Security. When law firms modernize their practices and keep the bulk of case documentation in digital formats, it adds a level of ease and security to the multi-faceted legal process. Access to confidential files or videos can be gated by passwords and stored on secure, firewall-protected networks. While no system is foolproof, in the end, a thoroughly vetted videoconferencing setup can result in decreased potential for data loss.
Videoconferencing is popular in the modern business world for good reason—it is an efficient, cost-effective, and user-friendly way to communicate. The versatility of the technology means it has a place outside of the enterprise, too—in the legal system, that place is often inside the courtroom, behind the bench, or within the offices of counsel.