Much has been made of the “Great Pandemic Leap” by law firms and courts. Pandemic proved to be, if not the mother of invention, at least the mother****** who FINALLY got techno tardy lawyers to shuffle forward. The alleged leap had nothing to do with new technology. Zoom and other collaboration tools have been around a long time. In fact, April 21, 2021 was Zoom’s 10th Birthday! Happy Birthday, Zoom! Thanks for being there for us.
No, it wasn’t new technology. The ‘Ten Years in Ten Weeks’ great leap was enabled by compulsion, adoption and support.
“Compulsion” because we couldn’t meet face-to-face, and seeing faces (and slides and white boards) is important.
“Adoption” because so many embraced Zoom and its ilk that we suddenly enjoyed a common meeting place.
“Support” because getting firms and families up and running on Zoom et al. became a transcendent priority.
It didn’t hurt that schools moving to Zoom served to put a support scion in many lawyers’ homes and, let’s face it Atticus, the learning curve wasn’t all that steep. Everyone already had a device with camera and microphone. Zoom made it one-click easy to join a meeting, even if eye-level camera positioning and unmuting of microphones has proven more confounding to lawyers than the Rule Against Perpetuities.
For me, the Great Leap manifested as the near-universal ability to convene on a platform where screen sharing and remote control were simple. I’ve long depended on remote control and screen sharing tools to access machines by Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) or TeamViewer (not to mention PCAnywhere and legacy applications that made WFH possible in the 90s and aughts). But, that was on my own machines. Linking to somebody else’s machine without a tech-savvy soul on the opposite end was a nightmare. If you’ve ever tried to remotely support a parent, you understand. “No, Mom, please don’t click anything until I tell you. Oh, you already did? What did the error message say? Next time, don’t hit ‘Okay” until you read the message, please Mom.“
E-discovery and digital forensics require defensible data identification, preservation and collection. The pandemic made deskside reviews and onsite collection virtually impossible, or more accurately, those tasks became possible only virtually. Suddenly, miraculously, everyone knew how to join a Zoom call, so custodians could share screens and hand over remote control of keyboard and mouse. I could record the sessions to document the work and remotely load software (like iMazing or CoolMuster) to preserve and access mobile devices. Remote control and screen sharing let me target collection efforts based on my judgment and not be left at the mercy of a custodian’s self-interested actions. Custodians could observe, assist and intervene in my work or they could opt to walk away and leave me to do my thing. I was “there,” but less intrusively and spared the expense and hassle of travel. I could meet FRCP 26(g) obligations and make a record to return to if an unforeseen issue arose.
In my role as investigator, there’s are advantages attendant to being onsite; e.g., I sometimes spot evidence of undisclosed data sources. But, weighed against the convenience and economy of remote identification and collection, I can confidently say I’m never going back to the old normal when I can do the work as well via Zoom.
Working remotely as I’ve described requires a passing familiarity with Zoom screen sharing, if only to be able to talk others through unseen menus. As Zoom host, you will need to extend screen sharing privileges to the remote user. Do this on-the-fly by making the remote user a meeting co-host, (click “More” alongside their name in the Participants screen). Alternatively, you can select Advanced Sharing Options from the Share Screen menu. Under “Who can Share?” choose “All Participants.”
To acquire control of the remote user’s mouse and keyboard, have the remote user initiate a screen share then open the View Options dropdown menu alongside the green bar indicating you’re viewing a shared screen. Select “Request Remote Control,” then click “Request” to confirm. The remote user will see a message box seeking authorization to control their screen. Once authorized, click inside the shared screen window to take control of the remote machine.
If you need to inspect a remote user’s iPhone or iPad, Zoom supports sharing those devices using a free plugin that links the mobile device over the same WiFi connection as the Zoom session. To initiate an iPhone/iPad screen share, instruct the remote user to click Screen Share and then select the iPhone/iPad icon at right for further instructions. Simpler still, have the remote user install Zoom on the phone or pad under scrutiny and join the Zoom session from the mobile device. Once in the meeting, the remote user screen shares from the session on the mobile device. Easy-peasy AND it works for Android phones, too!
So Counselor, go ahead and take that victory lap. Whether you made a great leap or were dragged kicking and screaming to a soupçon of technical proficiency, it’s great to see you! Hang onto those gains, and seek new ways to leverage technology in your practice. Your life may no longer depend on it, but your future certainly does.