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Wellness: The good, the bad and the ugly of Zoom | Darryl Singer

Friday, February 26, 2021 @ 8:31 AM | By Darryl Singer


Darryl Singer %>
Darryl Singer
I absolutely love our profession’s adaptation to Zoom in the last 10 months. While I remain, after all these years, passionate about being a litigator and enjoy nothing more than a day in court, discovery or mediation, the travel was really starting to get to me. I live in Thornhill, Ont., which for those outside of the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), is a suburb just north of Toronto proper, but about 30 kilometres from downtown, which in Toronto traffic is anywhere from one to two hours in rush hour.

As I practise all over the GTA and even much of Ontario, a typical week would find me spending about 20 hours a week in the car. This does not even include those weeks when I would be going further afield and that might require an overnight stay. Zoom has eliminated all of that and given me more time with my family, the ability to be home for dinner each night, actual free time to watch Netflix and a lot less back pain and irritability.

For the most part, discoveries proceed just as well if not better via Zoom. Witnesses are more comfortable, and the intimidation is taken out the air, allowing the discoveries to proceed more efficiently with the evidence going in better. Mediations that would have settled, still settle on Zoom and the down time between offers is actually able to be used to do productive work as opposed to sitting in a room doing nothing. Court appearances have gone smoothly now that most of the judiciary is comfortable with the technology. And a 10-minute case conference is actually 10 minutes, not three hours with travel and waiting time.

I understand some lawyers prefer in person, but get used to it, as the new rule changes make it clear Zoom is not going anywhere.

But colleagues, please, please do yourself a favour and think about your background. If you cannot come up with a decent background at home (and depending on where you live or with whom, I understand this may not be possible), then use a virtual background. Please do not do any of the following backgrounds, all of which I have seen in the last few months:

  • A dresser with a pile of dirty clothes.
  • An unmade bed.
  • A nicely made bed which clearly was being sat on at that moment.
  • A walk-in closet.

Zoom is indeed more casual. But we are still professionals. We want to be taken seriously. Our clients want us to look serious. We can indeed embrace the casual virtual world while still retaining our professionalism.

Darryl Singer is head of commercial and civil litigation at Diamond & Diamond Lawyers LLP in Toronto and intends to litigate via Zoom for as long as he can.

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