In the words of Russian revolutionary Vladimir Lenin, “There are decades where nothing happens; and there are weeks when decades happen.” This quote aptly describes March 2020, when the start of the COVID-19 pandemic led to the transformation of the practice of law in the United States. Within weeks, the legal system was forced to transition from its traditional in-person method of operation to remote litigation, at least for essential proceedings. The legal system utilized various online virtual participation platforms, such as Zoom, Teams, and WebEx. Once it became clear that in-person proceedings would not return soon, court systems throughout the country embraced online litigation. Two and a half years later, while trials and other essential in-person proceedings largely have returned, the use of online technology to conduct certain aspects of litigation, such as depositions and mediation, has become the new normal. The benefits of conducting proceedings virtually certainly include significant savings in cost and time commitment for parties, witnesses, and counsel.
The Online Courtroom: Leveraging Remote Technology in Litigation, edited by Richard Gabriel and Ken Broda-Bahm, is a practical and easy-to-use guide to this new law practice. Part One discusses the challenges and opportunities of online litigation with views from the bench, counsel table, witness box, and even the jury box. Part One also addresses how to meet the technical challenges of online litigation and the legal permissibility of the process and concludes with a discussion on how to preserve the representativeness of jury pools in online trials. Part Two dives into best practices for all aspects of the litigation process, from online client and witness meetings, depositions, and online court hearings to fully remote trials and managing juries and exhibits in the online environment. Part Two considers best communication practices, maintaining credibility in this environment, and how to use technology to present your best case and concludes with a discussion of the future of online litigation.
Each of the 20 chapters of The Online Courtroom is written by a different litigation specialist providing guidance and unique insight into utilizing the new online system best. The authors of the chapters range from practicing attorneys, law professors, retired judges, and legal consultants, each of whom recommends protocols for thriving in an online environment. The Appendix section of The Online Courtroom even provides helpful forms and other documents for use with online litigation, including a jury questionnaire and a template for a trial setting order. Online litigation is here to stay, and practicing attorneys and other legal specialists need to learn not just how to navigate but also succeed in this new version of our legal system. To that end, The Online Courtroom is an invaluable resource and reference guide for legal practitioners.