3rd February 2021
Many of us are now used to seeing friends, families, colleagues and professionals over video rather than face-to-face given the various lockdown restrictions that have been in place for the best part of a year.
In order to continue assisting people in need of legal advice, most firms of solicitors are offering initial consultations or client meetings over video conference at the moment. This has been a great help to both lawyers and their clients to help keep transactions moving and still be able to offer advice with a personal interaction of sorts.
Meeting with a solicitor can be daunting, particularly if it is to discuss a difficult matter. Some people find meeting in the comfort of their own home more relaxing, but for others dialing in via video adds more anxiety.
From our experience over the last few months, we have put together some useful tips to help you prepare and get the most out of your virtual meeting with a solicitor. Whether you have having an initial meeting to discuss divorce, are looking for advice on a settlement agreement or speaking to your solicitor about your will, hopefully these tips will be of use.
It is a good idea to give some thought to which device you will use for your meeting. Zoom, Teams and other providers are available on most devices. A mobile may be handy, but the screen size will be smaller and you run the risk of being interrupted with notifications and calls. A tablet, laptop or PC may be a better option, but are less portable.
You don’t want to waste the first few minutes of your meeting with technical difficulties or have to abandon your meeting altogether due to IT issues. Before the meeting check that you are connected to Wifi, that you have a strong signal, the speaker and microphone are working well and that you have the link or login to be able to access the meeting.
As with a face-to-face meeting it is a good idea to jot down any areas you wish to discuss, your concerns and any questions that you have as it is very easy to forget to ask at the meeting. Feel free to make some notes as the meeting takes place.
Your solicitor will inform you of anything you need to have in front of you for the meeting. It is a good idea to have any paperwork or notes to hand in case you need to refer to them. The benefit of having a meeting in your own home means that you can nip away from camera to find something if required, but it is best to be prepared.
The downside of having a meeting outside of the solicitor’s office is that there can be more distractions – especially if you are juggling working from home with childcare at the moment. Try to book your meeting at a time where you will not be interrupted. Take yourself into a quiet room of the house and put your phone on silent or airplane mode to avoid distractions. It is a good idea to turn off the TV or minimise any background noise so that you can give the meeting your full attention.
We are very relaxed with how you want to hold your meeting, so do not feel the need to dress up for the occasion if you are at home. It does help to both have a clear view of each other’s faces during a virtual meeting, so use a room that has good natural light. Think about what is in the background of your video before turning your camera on. If you are using a mobile phone or tablet it will be more comfortable and practical to use a stand or something to prop up your device during the meeting rather than holding it throughout.
Ensure you have a comfortable chair to sit in. If you have a long meeting it may be worth making a hot drink beforehand and having some water nearby. Ensure you have a pen and paper to make notes along with your paperwork or useful information. Try to relax in order to get the most out of your meeting.
If you have difficult issues to discuss such as separation, job loss or a family member who has passed away, then for some, the distance of video meeting may be beneficial. Please remember that your solicitor is very much used to speaking to clients who are tearful or upset. Tell your solicitor beforehand if you are struggling so that they can prepare an agenda or know to take the meeting at a slower pace. If you need to take a short break at any point, that is fine. You may wish to mute or go off camera to gather your thoughts. Have some tissues handy and try not to worry about becoming upset during the meeting. If you are worried about someone in your house overhearing the meeting, consider using headphones – this will mean that they cannot hear your solicitor speaking, but they still may hear you. In these circumstances it may be best to schedule the meeting at a time when you are alone.
Once you have followed the link or entered the code for your meeting you will find yourself in a ‘waiting room’ until your solicitor starts the meeting. If you arrive early you can have a quick check of your settings which is helpful. You can preview your video to check the angle and lighting and check that your sound is working well. It is helpful to check how your name is displayed for the meeting – particularly if there are several people in attendance or if you share the device with your household. Many meetings have ‘iPad’ in the display name or someone’s partner’s name if they used the device last.
If you need some legal advice and would rather not wait for a face-to-face meeting once lockdown measures are lifted, then we would be happy to arrange a telephone or video appointment to help you find a way forward.
Video meetings are a great way of staying connected, getting some social interaction, and continuing to move things forward with your legal affairs. The ease and speed of online meetings, without the need to take time off work or drive into the town centre makes them one of the only welcome additions that the pandemic has introduced! It is very likely that we will continue to offer these post-COVID-19 as an option for clients.
Whichever area of law you need assistance with – for you, your family or your business, we can be flexible in providing legal services and helping you reach your goals.
Please call your usual solicitor or speak to our reception on 01256 844888. Alternatively, you can email us at email@example.com or speak to our online chat assistant who is available on the website at any time of day.
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Useful Tips for Working From Home Long-Term
Received a Settlement Agreement? What to do Next
The contents of this article are for the purposes of general awareness only. They do not purport to constitute legal or professional advice. The law may have changed since this article was published. Readers should not act on the basis of the information included and should take appropriate professional advice upon their own particular circumstances.
Lamb Brooks LLP
Victoria House 39 Winchester Street Basingstoke Hampshire RG21 7EQ
f: 01256 330 933
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