Professionalism in the Virtual Courtroom
by Grant A. Miller.
In the beginning of 2020, Webex was intended as a temporary mechanism to get us through the pandemic. At first, attorneys fumbled with the new technology. Now a year has passed and Webex is likely to become a mainstay in some form or another. The good news is that most litigation attorneys have adapted. But with the normalization of Webex came the proliferation of casual court culture. Matters of litigation are matters of consequence. The virtual courtroom has its complications, but its awkwardness cannot be overcome without a focus on professional decorum. This article contemplates five concepts that can help improve professionalism with individual virtual court appearances.
Among the most notable casualties of decorum in the virtual courtroom has been wardrobe. Professional dress should still be observed when making an appearance in a court of law, even if working from home. We owe professionalism to our clients, to the court, and to each other and can demonstrate that with professional wardrobe.
A little light can go a long way. The trick is to simultaneously light your face and to also light your backdrop. The easiest way to troubleshoot lighting is to sit in front of a window. The natural light will illuminate your face and backdrop. If you do not have a window in your workspace, take a page from the kids on TikTok and get a selfie ring. A light ring (or a simple lamp pointed at yourself) will go a long way in creating a professional appearance. Just make sure the backdrop is also lit. A lamp on your face but not the background will create a floating head. A lit backdrop and an unlit face will create a muddled silhouette.
With many of us working from home, it is easy to forget that everyone in court has an intimate window into your living space. Be mindful of what is behind you. Generally, a plain backdrop (like a blank wall) works great. If you are joining court from your office, make sure it is tidy, and use your law library or framed certificates as a backdrop. While it might seem pedantic or tacky, remember that your clients are paying attention. There is a meaningful difference between an attorney who appears in front of a law library as opposed to appearing in front of a cluttered pile of...