10 Tips on How to Prepare for Your Virtual Hearing

It is now common for courts to utilize virtual platforms (such as Zoom, Teams, CourtCall, or more) to conduct family law hearings. Participants in these proceedings needs to be mindful of how to properly use this technology so that they can make the most out of it. This is also true for virtual mediations, depositions, legal conferences, and more. GoransonBain Ausley Family Lawyer Lindsey Obenhaus shares her top ten tips to prepare for a virtual legal proceeding.

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Lindsey excels in cases involving complex financial issues such as business or stock portfolio valuations and discovery, contested custody disputes, and domestic abuse. With a background as a former prosecutor, Lindsey’s extensive courtroom experience and strategic thinking helps clients to make informed decisions to achieve the best outcomes possible.

Lindsey’s counsel is not only strategic but practical as well. Serving professionals and stay-at-home parents alike, Lindsey recognizes that divorce can present an opportunity for clients to reinvent themselves. She assists them in the pragmatic tasks of starting over, while also working to secure their financial futures and empowering them to take the right next steps. To learn more about Lindsey, click here.

Welcome to the “GoransonBain Ausley Family Law Advisor Podcast.” My name is Lindsey Obenhaus. I’m an associate attorney with a passion helping women navigate divorce and family law matters. Today’s topic is 10 tips to prepare for your next virtual hearing. With the coronavirus pandemic, virtual hearings have become the norm. Courts are using platforms like Zoom, Teams, CourtCall, and other services to handle their legal proceedings. Here are 10 tips that will help you to quickly prepare for your next virtual hearing.

Tip number one, you’ll want to test your technology first. You’ll need a laptop or mobile device with a camera and a microphone that work. You’ll want to make sure that everything is operating and in sync well in advance of your legal proceeding. You’ll also want to make sure that your Wi-Fi signal is strong and working wherever you’re going to be when your hearing is going on.

Tip number two, make sure that you’re in the center of your camera in a well-lit location during your hearing. I always advise people that their lighting should be coming from behind the camera rather than from behind them to prevent any shadows.

Tip number three, you should be in a distraction-free environment as much as possible. If you can be in a room alone, that’s preferable. For the sake of transparency, I often ask people to let the room that they’re in be seen on-screen rather than using a professional background. If you and your attorney decide that’s not the best, choose a background that’s simple, professional, and that won’t distract the proceeding.

Tip number four, you should be alone during your proceeding in the room. This will help prevent any confusion or audio issues going on. So, your attorney and any other witnesses who may be with you should be on different screens, different devices, different rooms. Also, children should never be a part of Zoom proceedings. So, you want to make sure that they’re occupied somehow.

Tip number five, look at the camera when you’re speaking, rather than down at your computer. This will help make sure that the court and your audience are engaged and listening to you while you’re testifying or speaking in your legal matter. On the day of your hearing, you’ll want to make sure that you’re wearing professional attire. This includes both top and bottom because it’s possible that if the court thinks that you’re doing something off-screen, such as with your hands or in your lap that the court doesn’t allow, he or she may ask you to back up so that they can see your whole body in front of the camera while you testify during the proceeding.

Tip number seven, call in early. You’ll receive an email from the court and your lawyer with advice and links on how to handle your hearing that day. You want to log in early because just like on tip number one, you don’t want any issues to happen on the day of, and if you’re late, you might miss important updates or announcements that the court gives at the beginning of a docket.

Number eight, mute yourself. You should already be muted when you log into a legal proceeding. If you’re not already, please mute yourself. Unmute is the new reply all. Don’t speak to a court or a judge in a legal proceeding unless the court or your lawyer asks you a specific question. You should make sure during your proceeding, that you have a way to communicate with your attorney though. There’s a chat feature on many platforms. You can also ask your attorney if they can text you or find another way so that you can stay in touch during the proceeding.

Tip number nine, do not research or text anyone else during the proceeding. Courts have specific rules about this, that you are to act like you’re in a court of law under oath testifying virtually. So, do not text your friends or research or get on Facebook during your Zoom proceeding. Stay engaged and watching what’s on the camera.

Last but not least, tip number ten, when your proceeding is done, log completely off. Don’t minimize your proceeding. And I know it’s especially tricky on mobile devices for some people. But be sure that you’re clicking the buttons to log off and disconnect yourself completely from the court and all other parties when you’re proceeding is done. I hope these tips have helped to prepare you. If you have any other questions, just let us know or ask your family lawyer. Thank you.


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