Majority of Lawyers Support Remote Legal Proceedings
According to a recent American Bar Association (ABA) survey, 88% of lawyers said they prefer the use of remote depositions in their practices and 93% supported the use of remote technologies for all pretrial hearings.
The survey results are further evidence of the profound transition toward wider use of remote technologies in the legal profession.
According to the report, most respondents take a flexible position about remote versus in-person legal practices. Lawyers prefer that courts allow many pretrial proceedings to take place remotely, via Zoom or other similarly accessible platforms. A majority of respondents report that they prefer mediations, depositions, pretrial hearings, and even bench trials to take place remotely.
Professional support for remote technologies is not limited to court proceedings. Lawyers responding to the ABA survey also signaled a desire for greater use of technology in their law office environment as well as with educational conferences and meetings.
The report, drafted by the ABA Coordinating Group on Practice Forward, said that the survey had identified a need for law firm leaders to use technology to create a safe and secure working environment where the lawyer’s home office was roughly equivalent to the firm’s business office technology-wise.
Smaller business offices and better home offices are the way to go, they suggested.
“The same resources needed to sustain business offices can be transferred to supporting a home office,” the report said. “The substantial cost savings resulting from a diminished need for office space for lawyers working from home can be invested in additional technological and administrative support.”
There is evidence that this tradeoff is already being made in some law firms. Reuters recently reported that several law firms are shrinking their physical office footprint and making investments that encourage and support evolving modes of hybrid legal work.
The benefits and challenges of remote technologies are also on the minds of court administrators. In a report released on November 25, 2022, the National Center for State Courts (NCSC) cited the benefits of virtual court proceedings as it identified key considerations for remote hearings and the acquisition of enabling technologies.
The NCSC’s Remote Proceeding Toolkit encourages court administrations to study the ways in which remote hearings impact legal rights, to consider the minimum technological requirements for an effective virtual proceeding, and to annually review the virtual hearing policies that are adopted.
Task forces in Arizona, California, Illinois, Maryland, Michigan, and Utah are already studying virtual justice issues and making recommendations to the judiciary in their jurisdictions. This work, and the efforts of other experts who will inevitably begin the necessary policy development processes in their states, promises to remake the judicial system in ways that were unimaginable only a few years ago.
You can read more about this survey here.
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