The Key Role of Security in Law Firm Video-Conferencing


14 July 2020

The pandemic has caused disruption across multiple industries and the legal profession is no exception.

The pandemic has caused disruption across multiple industries and the legal profession is no exception.

As part of its transition to remote working, legal professionals and practices have had to move court hearings into virtual spaces. This has been a culture shock for many lawyers and legal firms which have previously been wedded to procedure and tradition, and therefore slower than most sectors to adopt new video technologies.
Decision-making can also be complicated. Multiple constituencies are involved, from the judge to defence and prosecution lawyers to barristers and jurors. It is therefore more difficult to make a move to video – and any move made must, of course, also maintain safeguards built into the traditional process.

The procedures around keeping data secure through a court case carried out purely in the physical world are well-known and have been undertaken for decades. That has been an inhibitor to new technology adoption but necessity has forced the hand of the profession and now practices are reaping the rewards.
Remote and virtual working drives manifest working efficiencies. Virtual working removes the cost of getting judge, jury, lawyers and court staff on site for a hearing. It removes the costs of meeting rooms and travel. It also allows lawyers to get more clients seen quickly.

Meetings involving multiple stakeholders can be arranged more quickly and information shared on screen. There are therefore many opportunities for gains in terms of the speed and efficiency that processes can be conducted and with the volume of litigation likely to escalate in the wake of the pandemic, that is very important.

Meetings can also be recorded and the transcript turned into text, a more efficient approach than notes being taken manually and uploaded afterwards. The move to virtual working may also usher in more flexible working practices with judges and lawyers able to get involved more quickly with a range of different cases.
However, given the sensitivities surrounding legal practice, there are high requirements around security and encryption in any virtual meeting and especially around the sharing of data.

When any organisation first looks at using a virtualised video-conferencing platform, they will need to understand what they need in terms of encryption. It is critically important, for example, that any discussions over video involving jurors in a court case, must be fully protected, to prevent unauthorised users from breaking into the call.

High quality end-to-end encryption is key to ensure any unauthorised actors cannot break into meetings and record and screen grab content, for example. Otherwise, the integrity of the entire trial could potentially be brought into question.

There is also a need for controls around meeting URLs and managing meetings so that there is a moderator in place who can see exactly who has joined the meeting, for example. Ultimately, any solution for the new virtual remote working world will need to be a blend of technology, existing practice and new processes around managing technology to ensure that the highest security and integrity is upheld.

The process of bringing in witnesses and jury members must be carefully handled and reapplied in a digital way, so only the right people are present and watching specific parts of the proceedings.

So what does a good solution look like? It will depend on the precise application. Consideration will need to be given to all the different key stakeholders – from plaintiff and defence to witnesses and barristers – and what information is shared. Before the pandemic, legal proceedings often remained highly paper-based. All of that needs to be managed in the virtual world.

Whatever the precise solution chosen, it is important to have a system that is scalable and reliable and easily integrated with other systems. It is also key to have a system where video and sound quality is high, where meetings or hearings can be held with the relevant people practices and procedures in place and where content can be managed and shared securely. A collaboration environment with strict controls around users’ permissions and access rights will therefore be key.

As we look to the future, the evidence we have so far about video-conferencing in the legal sector seems positive. A recent report, entitled, ‘Rapid Review: The Impact of COVID-19 on the Civil Justice System’ found that broadly speaking, lawyers were satisfied with their experience of remote hearings: – 71.5% of respondents described their experience as positive or very positive.

The pandemic is changing the whole model of courtroom and legal practice. There are a wide range of benefits on offer but in accessing them stringent and rigorous levels of security will be critically important. This will be key to shaping the long term future of the virtual world of law.


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