Tips for Using Zoom for Mediations, Client Meetings, etc.
Although written for North Carolina attorneys, this article offers helpful tips, settings, and options attorneys should consider when using Zoom or other video conferencing tools. The article by Catherine Sanders Reach, of the NCBA Center for Practice Management, includes some options for confidential client meetings.
This information is provided to offer guidance to lawyers who have electronic hearings in court. These resources were found on the Texas Office of Court Administration's website.
Getting started with Zoom
Users new to Zoom are encouraged to watch these videos before getting started with Zoom.
- Zoom 101 - Sign Up and Download Meeting Client
- Joining a Meeting
- Schedule a Meeting
- Schedule a Meeting in Outlook
- Meeting Controls
- Host and Cohost Controls
- Joining and Configuring Audio/Video
- Using Break-out Rooms
- Using Virtual Backgrounds
- Simultaneous Interpretations for Meetings
- Using Dropbox to share files
Tips for Successful Hearings
- Dress in a soft solid color, rather than one with a pattern.
- When speaking, remember to look directly at the webcam, not at the screen.
- Position the camera at your eye level or slightly above eye level.
- Be mindful of what is behind you, choose a solid neutral wall if possible.
- Check the lighting. Light from a window behind you might blind the camera, making you look dark. Light above you in the center of a room might also cast shadows. Ideally, position a lamp, or sit facing a window, where light is directly on your face. Also be aware that your monitor casts light that can make you look blue.
- Remind the participants to speak one at a time and to pause prior to speaking in case there is any audio/video lag.
- Encourage the participants to mute themselves or mute them yourself when not speaking in order to avoid any potential background noise.
- Test your connection and setup with Zoom by testing your connection with a test meeting.
Utilizing the Breakout Rooms
There may be times where parties wish to confer outside of the “online courtroom.” Examples might include attorney-client communications or probation-defendant communications after a plea. The Zoom breakout function is good for this purpose. You can find the Breakout Rooms button at the bottom of the screen or by clicking on the More button. The system will allow you to establish the number of breakout rooms. For more information on breakout room functionality, visit https://support.zoom.us/hc/en-us/articles/206476313-Managing-Breakout-Rooms.
Frequently Asked Questions
- Can there be multiple breakout rooms?
Yes. See our help on Using Break-out Rooms.
- While someone is in the breakout room, can they see/hear the proceedings in the main meeting?
They cannot, and participants in the main room cannot see/hear what is happening in the breakout room. The breakout room cannot be recorded nor streamed.
- How can we capture signatures on documents through Zoom?
Zoom has no built-in feature for collecting signatures on documents. Rather, you should consider other means to obtain signatures. There are several options, including gathering signed documents in advance of the hearing, having parties/attorneys email documents to the court in advance, or having parties upload documents to a cloud storage service like Dropbox.
- How are exhibits shown through Zoom?
There is a file transfer feature in Zoom (in the chat portion). However, it is recommended that parties use Dropbox or email to collect the documents/exhibits prior to the hearing for sharing among all participants.
Getting Started With Zoom and Using It Securely
Zoom is extremely easy to use and is available across multiple platforms and operating systems. Read more from Sharon Nelson and John Simek of Sensei Enterprises Inc. This article was originally posted on April 2, 2020, and the article has now been updated three times.
April 15 - Growing concerns about security issues regarding Zoom can be found in this article from CNET and New York Magazine.
Guidelines from the AO IT Security Office
- Use a Zoom business account and not the free version. Pay monthly so you can cancel at any time (if the new national offering meets your needs)
- Use passwords to protect when “scheduling new meetings”; and “Require a password for instant meetings.”
- Never share your meeting ID
- Try not to use the personal meeting ID–instead allow Zoom to generate a random ID for each meeting
- Disable the option “Embed password in meeting link for one-click join” and enable “Require password for participants joining by phone.”
- Set a passcode for user sessions to limit visitors from accessing the session.
- Change screensharing to “Host-only” to prevent others from sharing their screen. (This addresses the “Zoombombing” risk.)
- Disable “Join Before Host” so attendees cannot join the meeting without the meeting organizer in attendance. Create waiting rooms for your attendees.
- Enable “Co-Host” so you can assign others to help moderate.
- Disable “File Transfer” to prevent sharing files that may contain malware.
- Disable “Allow Removed Participants to Rejoin” so unauthorized attendees can’t slip back into the session.
- Monitor room attendance and be prepared to expel a participant not invited.
- Lock a meeting.
- “Assume what happens in Zoom does not stay in Zoom,”
- Enable/disable a participant or all participants to record.
- Temporarily pause screen sharing when a new window is opened.
- Make sure all users running the up to date Zoom Client version.
Using Zoom for Confidential Client Communications is not recommended?
Confidential communications with a client through Zoom may not be secure. I would advise against its use for confidential client communications.
Laura L. Chastain, Ethics Counsel
Board of Professional Responsibility of the Supreme Court of Tennessee
As large numbers of people turn to video-teleconferencing (VTC) platforms to stay connected in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis, reports of VTC hijacking (also called “Zoom-bombing”) are emerging nationwide. The FBI has received multiple reports of conferences being disrupted by pornographic and/or hate images and threatening language.
The following steps can be taken to mitigate teleconference hijacking threats.
If you are the host:
- Safeguard access details. Keep the conference number as well as the secure personal PIN safe so that they do not fall into the wrong hands. If you have to keep the information on a computer or mobile device, make sure they are password protected with a strong password. Similarly, do not keep any physical copies lying around in the office that can be seen by everyone.
- Do not make meetings public.
- Require a meeting password.
- Do not share a link to a teleconference on an unrestricted publicly available social media post. Provide the link directly to specific people.
- Keep a low number of participants. A larger number of participants will mean a greater risk to web conference security.
- Manage screen sharing options. Change screen sharing to “Host Only.
If you are a participant or a host:
- Ensure you are using the most updated version of remote access/meeting applications.
- Keep everything from your home network to your computer software to web conferencing software up-to-date.
- Practice Good OPSEC while working from home.
- We are used to working in a more controlled environment with regard to protecting sensitive information. Working from home presents several additional problems we don’t encounter in our regular daily work routine. It’s easy to forget that Alexa, your family members, or others sharing your space are in earshot as you discuss confidential information. Stay aware of who may be within earshot as we learn how to work from our portable office.
- That said, a lock on an office door, password-protecting your screensaver, and designating a location to store your laptop and papers are best work practices.
Here are some articles to help you get comfortable with Zoom
10 Blunders to Easily avoid on Zoom
Read the tips from Above the Law's Robert Ambrogi
Working Remotely? Zoom Cheat Sheet Can Help
Among the ways COVID-19 has changed the way people work is that many are using the online videoconferencing system Zoom for the first time. Though it's known to be relatively easy to use, it's almost inevitable that some will encounter a few hurdles along the way. University of Texas Law School Professor Craig Ball, a veteran Zoom user himself, has put together a handy, downloadable cheat sheet that can help you make the most of this technology.
6 Tricks You Need to Know About Zoom
It is easy to use, but there are a few tricks that can make your Zoom experience seamless. Read more.
Tips for CLE Presenters in the Virtual World (No PJs, Please)