Updated: Jun 26
The quick and unexpected outbreak of a novel Coronavirus hit businesses in all industries hard. Day to day tasks suddenly became impossible as staff were unable to work safely in their usual role and a sense of panic ensued among customers. The businesses who were to prove successful in weathering the storm are those who have adapted and provided their customers with continuity despite global uncertainty.
The legal sector, in particular, faced a difficult task in gaining client trust without being able to shake hands and maintain reassuring eye contact throughout first consultations and subsequent meetings, often extremely sensitive in nature. This is where the use of video conferencing has taken the legal sector by storm. Although lawyers and their teams aren’t able to physically reach out to shake the hand of their client, video conferencing allows them the opportunity to build rapport in a more personable manner than a telephone call can provide.
Globally, there are several front runners in the world of video conferencing. Those that have proven vital in maintaining professional relationships whilst also complying with lockdown restrictions include Skype and Zoom. Both platforms, and those similar, enable businesses to provide face to face contact without risking the potential spread of COVID-19 during a time when governments are imposing quarantine policies all over the world.
Why not just pick up the phone?
Whilst phone calls get the job done, body language expert James Borg has revealed that 93% of human communication comes from body language and paralinguistic cues. With this in mind, phone calls leave room for interpretation, whereas if your client can see you, and you them, communication will be more meaningful and a greater understanding will be shared between you, even if this may be subconsciously.
In addition, your client may not be completely comfortable in speaking to a lawyer, especially if you’re at the beginning of your journey together. They may not know what to expect and a simple telephone call may allow for each party’s reasoning to become lost in translation. For a client, being able to see a smiling, reassuring face will remind them that they’re in safe hands with your law firm.
Time is precious
The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has made people appreciate how precious time is, with many realising in hindsight that they have been burning the candle at both ends until now. As the country, and the legal sector especially, have adapted to using video conferencing instead of physical meetings, it has become clear that this is a strategy that can save time that is already in short supply.
In the traditional circumstances, you would arrange to meet your client and any third parties at your office or theirs. Whilst the meeting may be scheduled to take an hour of your time, travel of the visiting parties can add a considerable amount of time, and should one party be running late, this impacts upon the rest of the day for the remaining parties.
Video conferencing eradicates the need for the consideration of travel time, with users able to log into the conference from almost anywhere in the world, as long as they have access to the internet. And, if one party is late, there is noticeably less impact on the schedules of the other parties, too!
Improve your brand perception
All businesses need to maintain a positive brand perception with their consumers. For those operating in the legal sector, however, this brand perception goes towards building a level of trust beyond that of most other industries. Commercial legal advice and services can, for example, be the difference between a company continuing to trade successfully and closing up shop, facing debt and all that comes with it.
One way in which law firms can maintain their brand perception is by ensuring continuity for their clients. This continuity is enabled by video conferencing because it minimises the need to cancel appointments (with meetings easily attended from home, like during the COVID-19 restrictions) and allows the client to trust that their solicitor will be available, no matter what disruptions the rest of the country face.
But is video conferencing secure?
As a professional, your clients' security is of the utmost importance to you, and rightly so. One way video conferencing platforms keep their users’ information safe is by using encryption. Skype, for example, state:
“All Skype-to-Skype voice, video, file transfers and instant messages are encrypted. This protects you from potential eavesdropping by malicious users.”
Put simply, encryption is the method of converting information into secret code that hides the information’s intended meaning. The primary purpose is to protect the confidentiality of digital data transmitted over the internet or similar computer network. This form of security makes a video conference the ideal place to discuss sensitive legal matters without fear of the conversation being accessed elsewhere. You can learn more about encryption here.
How to build trust and rapport via video conferencing
Optimise services provided – Not only does video conferencing allow interactions with a client to occur without delay, but it is much more social than the alternative of email or telephone call.
Show the client your human side – Yes, your client is relying on you for legal advice and services in often sensitive circumstances, but you’re still a person and clients will trust a solicitor they can identify with. Start by asking after your client, rather than jumping straight to business.
Give your full attention – Most of us are guilty of becoming distracted during a particularly lengthy telephone call, but when face to face via video conferencing, it’s vital that you give your full attention to your client. Show them you’re listening and care about what they have to say with nods and other small physical gestures.
Serenity Law LLP – Leading law firms into the future
Serenity Law is a digital law firm. The team use technology to deliver legal advice and services to a wide range of international corporate clients – from entrepreneurs and SME’s to large corporations – with video conferencing being the communication method of choice.
As a result of our carefully developed digital business strategy, we were faced with minimal disruption when the lockdown and temporary business closures were enforced in March 2020. Where other law firms found themselves rushing to find, set up and train staff in their chosen video conferencing platform, it has been business as usual for Serenity Law, with our clients being able to rely on us to offer continuity and support during difficult times for businesses across the globe.
Certain legal services have typically always been conducted in person but whilst court hearings have been postponed as a result of the Coronavirus, many services have moved online with the use of video conferencing. Clients continue to benefit from online dispute resolution, for example. Co-founder and partner of Serenity Law LLP, Avinder Laroya, is an accredited CEDR Mediator and a member of the Civil Mediation Council (“CMC”). Mediations have been able to continue during the lockdown through video conferencing. Had these cases have needed to wait until they could be undertaken in person, there is likelihood that the dispute could have escalated and resulted in litigation. Instead, Ms Laroya has been able to support businesses to resolve their disputes without needing to set foot in the Courts.
Ms Laroya’s experience as a Mediator isn’t limited to businesses in the UK, however. She is one of few lawyers who has experience in international dispute resolution, supporting her clients through cross-border disputes within multiple jurisdictions. Enthused by complex international disputes, Ms Laroya has a keen interest in Artificial Intelligence and how it can improve the delivery of efficient mediation services.
Is technology the future?
Whilst there are certain occasions that are suited to traditional face to face interaction, the use of technology in the delivery of legal services is paving the way for further innovation in the legal sector. The unexpected outbreak of COVID-19 and its consequences have encouraged law firms to provide virtual legal services, which make for an efficient, modern and cost-effective alternative to long-established practise.
Out of adverse global circumstances, technology has ensured businesses can continue to provide the service expected by their clients. The opportunity to take advantage of further innovation is clear and Serenity Law LLP will continue to lead the way to a more efficient future for legal services.
About Avinder Laroya
Member of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators (MCIArb) and a CEDR Mediator, Avinder Laroya, co-founded Serenity Law LLP over a decade ago, with the aim to develop a virtual law firm that could offer cost-effective legal services to businesses large and small. Although Ms Laroya is a London based solicitor, she holds a rare skillset, including both UK and international litigation, enthused by the challenge of a complex dispute resolution.
Ms Laroya is especially passionate about building trusting relationships, whilst working with her clients to achieve their commercial objectives.
How Serenity Law can support your business
During such extraordinary times, trust is vital, particularly when managing sensitive legal matters. Co-founders of Serenity Law, Avinder Laroya and Stanley Beckett, have built their firm on the foundation of offering the most efficient legal advice and services possible for their clients, making use of video conferencing many years prior to the COVID-19 outbreak.
Allow the team at Serenity Law to support your business throughout the pandemic and beyond with the use of video conferencing. Book your free consultation here.