We had fun with technology at the office today. I have a mediation coming up in about a month. We have several different people with the client who are We wanted to confer with everyone to discuss the strengths and weaknesses of our case in preparation for mediation. Unfortunately, many of the decision makers live in different cities. Instead of having everyone travel, we used Go To Meeting to share a Power Point and review the pertinent issues in the case. We also used a webcam to allow viewers to see us as we discussed the Power Point.
I’ve used Go To Meeting the past and liked it. I was part of a trial team in New Orleans where we used Go To Meeting with great success. We had the court reporter’s real-time feed plugged into a computer at counsel table and ran Go To Meeting. The computer at counsel table had internet access, either through WiFi or an air card. The system allowed appellate counsel to monitor the proceedings as they transpired. Additionally, I could monitor the proceedings while I worked from the war room blocks away from the courthouse.
Go To Meeting helped us pull off some fun stuff that I’m not sure we would have pulled off otherwise. In that New Orleans case, the plaintiff testified contrary to his responses to requests for admissions. We wanted the Court to preclude the testimony because the admissions conclusively established that particular fact. The Court initially disagreed and held we could use the requests for admissions as impeachment evidence, but the plaintiff would not be precluded from testifying. Appellate counsel followed the transcript and coordinated a response with trial counsel via Go To Meeting. Within an hour or two, trial counsel presented compelling authority to the Court. Faced with the new authority, the Court changed its mind. The Court instructed the jury to completely disregard the plaintiff’s testimony that conflicted with the admissions. That ruling crushed the credibility of the plaintiff.
Today’s Go To Meeting experience wasn’t nearly as sexy as that moment. But it allowed the participants to have an interactive discussion that felt more structured and productive than a typical teleconference. I think we accomplished more today as a result.
I wonder when lawyers and clients will use this technology as a matter of course. I’m sure the legal industry is behind other fields. Who knows–my practice may be somewhat behind compared to other law firms. Using some type of videoconferencing technology like Skype or even a minor step up like Go To Meeting seems like an awfully easy way for lawyers and clients to communicate. The barriers to entry are relatively low and few, assuming everyone pays for high-speed internet connections. Webcams don’t cost much. Videoconferencing and the like aren’t a complete substitute for in-person meetings. Nonetheless, these methods seem like a better way of establishing and maintaining a relationship than a phone call.