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This time last week, I was in the middle of a 3-day High Court Trial that was being conducted on Skype for Business.

Having experienced one of the first fully virtual Trials, I thought I would share some tips for those who are yet to hold one.

Here are my 30 tips...

Tip 1

Test your set up prior to the Hearing by holding conferences using the same software that will be used during the Hearing – Skype for Business may be used for the Hearing.
Tip 2

Schedule team/client conferences that will happen before, during and after the Hearing ahead of time. Agree on who will be responsible for setting up the calls, on what platform and during which times.
Tip 3

Set up a WhatsApp group for communicating with your client and the rest of the members of the team.
Tip 4

Set up a separate WhatsApp group for just the lawyers to communicate in.
Tip 5

Think carefully about who should be in any WhatsApp group. As an example, we had junior Counsel in both WhatsApp groups for use during Trial, and we had a third separate WhatsApp group that QC Counsel were in, which would be used at agreed times only to avoid distractions.
Tip 6

Name the WhatsApp groups in an obvious way and take care to check which group you are in before replying or messaging!
Tip 7

For multi-day Hearings, make sure you are early to the call each and every day, both in the morning and after the breaks. Do not become complacent about technology. Occasionally, a reset will be required in order to reconnect you, so give yourself extra time for this.
Tip 8

Plan what will happen if you ‘lose’ your advocate. When your advocate has lost his or her internet connection, someone needs to alert the advocate and Judge about this immediately. Have a plan in place to tackle this in case it does happen.

Tip 8

The Judge may not realise that your advocate has lost his or her connection before you notice, so it is important that discussions are held about this issue prior to the start of the Hearing.

TIp 9

Open your eBundles before the video call starts. The Skype call will use your Wi-Fi bandwidth so you do not want to download heavy files from your Wi-Fi network after the Hearing starts. Close Outlook and anything you do not need access to.
Tip 10

The importance of multiple screens: Relying entirely on eBundles requires the use of more than one screen. It is essential that you have two screens, or preferably three screens in order to navigate through the Hearing.

Tip 10

These screens can be your laptop, desktop or even tablet screens. One screen can be dedicated solely to viewing the remote Hearing and seeing the advocates, witnesses and Judge(s) whilst they speak. The second screen can be for navigating the Bundles and the other

Tip 10

screen can be for any note-taking. If you have two screens, you can dedicate one screen solely to viewing the remote hearing and the speakers, whilst the other screen can be used to navigate the bundle and note-taking.

Tip 11

Consider where your camera is placed and which screen your Bundles are on. When making submissions or asking questions, you will want to be looking at the Judge to understand their body language and reactions. Where you decide to put your camera requires consideration.
Tip 12

If using multiple PDFs, organise them in an obvious way, such as in a chronological sequence.
Tip 13

If you will be using hardcopy Bundles, organise them before the Hearing and know where each Bundle is so that you can readily access the documents.
Tip 14

‘Pin’ the relevant people once the call is set up so you can see those you want to see, regardless of whether they are speaking or not. On Skype for Business, you can pin up to 5 people.
Tip 15

Pinning people needs setting up each day. Spend a couple of minutes to put people into the same order each day to help with your familiarity.
Tip 16

Mute your microphone at all times when you are not speaking.
Tip 17

If your microphone needs to be on, be conscious of any background noises that may be distracting to others.
Tip 18

If background noises may be an issue, wear headphones with a microphone to reduce them.
Tip 19

Ensure your mobile phone is on silent, particularly if your microphone will be turned on! The aim is to avoid any background noises and distractions.
Tip 20

Unless you’re the advocate for the Hearing, turn off your video.
Tip 21

If your video is on, remember that everyone is watching you all of the time, whether you are speaking or not.
Tip 22

Remember your background and think about what others will see behind you. The Judge in my case hung a white sheet over a bookcase to create a completely neutral background.
Tip 23

Be wary of your body language! Eye rolls, head shakes and similar body language are seen by the Judge no matter who is speaking. Remember that you are always on show if your camera is on and there is no hiding place during a Virtual Hearing.
Tip 24

Remember to turn off your video and mute your microphone during breaks and before dialling into a conference call with your client and legal team!
Tip 25

Dress for court. Your video may be off but this is still a court Hearing. Treat it as if you were physically in court. A Judge may want to see you at some point so do plan for that.
Tip 26

You can fuel yourself during the remote Hearing. Have drinks and snacks available as required.
Tip 27

The mid-morning and afternoon breaks are only 5 minutes long so do not plan anything significant for those breaks.
Tip 28

Get some fresh air in the lunch break. A virtual Hearing can be strangely tiring!
Tip 29

However tempting it may be, refrain from commenting on the Judge’s choice of clothing.
Tip 30

Refrain from commenting on anyone’s appearance for that matter. Remember, this is a court Hearing.
There we are. All 30 tips are listed in this article on the @LennonsSols website:…

I hope some find the tips helpful. If you have any tips of your own, I'd love to hear them.

#solicitors #lawfirm #litigation #court

Thank you for all the terrific replies, comments and shares. I’m delighted that the content has proven to be valuable.

I received some great additional tips so am going to publish an updated version in a week’s time.

If you have any tips, please share them with me ASAP.
The Twitter character limit can be restrictive so please connect with me or follow me on LinkedIn.…
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