“I think COVID-19 catapulted us into the 21st century,” he says.
Attorney Gerald Wilkerson has taken practicing law virtually by teleconference to the next level – he built a virtual law office.
Actually, it’s a custom Zoom background created by Wilkerson’s son, Sean, who’s president of the Paxon School for Advanced Studies Film Club.
“It’s all virtual. He used a photo of a law office and the sign on the wall is just text. I use it for my Zoom hearings,” Wilkerson said.
With the social distancing requirements because of the COVID-19 shutdown, he is regularly logging on for depositions and some types of hearings, like uncontested divorces.
While having to move from practicing law in person to practicing virtually was a substantial transition, Wilkerson said after doing it for about two months, he’s found it has certain advantages.
“I’m saving hours of travel time,” he said.
Wilkerson said that before virtual meetings, a five-minute hearing could take two hours of his day.
Now, “I don’t have to leave the office to go to the courthouse and back. And I don’t have to find a place to park or take a chance on getting a parking ticket. With Zoom, 15 minutes and I’m done,” he said.
Convenience aside, in-person proceedings have elements that can’t be duplicated in the virtual environment, cross-examining witnesses, for example.
“Judges look at posture and demeanor. You can’t fully get the gist of that in a virtual hearing. When a witness is in a courtroom in front of a judge, I think they’re more likely to be honest,” Wilkerson said.
Teleconferencing was available to attorneys before the pandemic shutdown, but it usually wasn’t the first choice. Wilkerson thinks that has changed, by necessity.
“I think COVID-19 catapulted us into the 21st century,” he said.
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