When a large-scale disaster strikes, travel suffers, but given today’s technology, is travel even necessary anymore? Dennis and Tom discuss how remote collaboration tools–Zoom, Microsoft Teams, and others–have evolved over the past few years, and provide their tips for video/phone conference etiquette. In their second segment, they explore what new studies say about the safety of public Wi-Fi.
As always, stay tuned for the parting shots, that one tip, website, or observation that you can use the second the podcast ends.
Have a technology question for Dennis and Tom? Call their Tech Question Hotline at 720-441-6820 for the answers to your most burning tech questions.
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Mentioned in This Episode
A Segment: Technology Alternatives to Travel
B Segment: Is Public Wi-Fi Safer Now?
The Kennedy-Mighell Report
Coronavirus Looms – Can Technology Replace Travel?
Intro: Web 2.0, Innovation, Trend, Collaboration, Software, Metadata… Got the world turning as fast as it can, hear how technology can help, legally speaking with two of the top legal technology experts, authors and lawyers, Dennis Kennedy and Tom Mighell. Welcome to The Kennedy-Mighell Report here on the Legal Talk Network.
Dennis Kennedy: And welcome to Episode #255 of The Kennedy-Mighell Report. I am Dennis Kennedy in Ann Arbor.
Tom Mighell: And I am Tom Mighell in Dallas. Before we get started, we would like to thank our sponsor.
Dennis Kennedy: That means, we would like to thank ServeNow, a nationwide network of trusted, prescreened process servers, work with the most professional process servers who have experience with high-volume serves, embrace technology, and understand the litigation process. Visit serve-now.com to learn more.
Tom Mighell: And we want to mention that the second edition of our book, ‘The Lawyer’s Guide to Collaboration Tools and Technologies’ is available on Amazon. Everyone agrees that collaboration is essential in today’s world, but knowing the right tools will make all the difference.
Dennis Kennedy: In our last episode we had a great conversation with our friend Ben Schorr at Microsoft about Office 365 and what’s new for lawyers from Microsoft? In this episode we are thinking like many of you are about the Coronavirus and we’re also thinking about ZOOM and how much videoconferencing has changed in recent years, definitely for the better. If we were reached at a point where technology might actually be a good replacement for travel in some and maybe even many situations, Tom, what’s all on our agenda for this episode?
Tom Mighell: Well, Dennis, in this edition of The Kennedy-Mighell Report we will indeed be looking at technology alternatives to travel, an important category of collaboration technologies.
In the second segment we’ll talk about whether it’s actually gotten safer out there on public Wi-Fi, and as usual, we’ll finish up with our parting shots, that one-tip website or observation that you can start to use the second that this podcast is over.
But first up, travel and technology and technology and travel, it seems that every time disaster strikes, travel suffers, 9/11, The Great Recession of 2008, I would argue are responsible for great leaps being made in online meeting technology and other types of technologies as people reduced their travel and found other ways to meet online instead of meeting in-person.
With the coronavirus in the headlines every day, we thought it might make sense to revisit meeting and collaboration alternatives to travel, and see how far we’ve come since the last disaster.
Dennis, we might not have gotten the Jetsons flying cars yet, but doesn’t it seem kind of like the arrow of video phones has arrived without much fanfare?
Dennis Kennedy: I was thinking about this the other day. I was on a Zoom meeting for Legal Technology Resource Center and there were probably like 10 people on the phone and there was a live meeting where people in a conference room and the rest of us all were on video, and it just seamlessly worked really well and you could see each other whoever was talking and actually the worst connection and hardest thing to hear and probably the most negative part of meeting was the feed that came from the room where people were sitting in because it was hard to hear people who were away from the microphone.
It just got me thinking that we were kind of taking this video-conferencing and calls for granted, and normally, I don’t like to be on video, especially if I’m on a phone, because it’s hard to keep yourself in the video, but it’s really made a difference, and I’m starting to feel a little guilty when I’m on a Zoom call and I’m audio-only.
Tom Mighell: Well, and I got to say I don’t want to head down a track that we didn’t intend to head down, but part of the reason why you have trouble hearing or that the worst reception comes from the people who are actually in the meeting room is, is that the technology works so much better when you’re close up to it, and that’s why the companies like Zoom or Microsoft Teams, which I’m going to talk a little bit about here, they actually will sell or put together a Zoom room or a Teams’ room, and it’s a room that makes it easier to talk to people and the microphones are better and they’re closer and the quality is better, and I would argue that this kind of technology has gotten really good for people who are remote, but the people who are still meeting in-person are stuck with, I would say — I would argue still older technology that they haven’t caught up to yet.
Dennis Kennedy: Yeah, there is certain amount of, “can you hear me?” or “are you online?”, but it usually comes from the room itself. So I guess the big question that I had, Tom, is given each of our sets of anxieties, which of the two of us do you think has more pandemic anxiety? Usually I’m second to none on pandemics, but where are you at these days?
Tom Mighell: Well, I mean, my guess here is that because you’re the one who suggested the topic that you have the greater pandemic anxiety, I will tell you that I found a great website where John Hopkins is populating sort of the totals of what’s been happening worldwide, which is kind of fascinating to watch and see where things are coming from and what kinds of things are happening. But I am not really in other than the financial effects of the whole thing, I’ve not really been able to see the real effects of it here at least in the United States is that we haven’t had a lot of issues but everybody that I see is saying we’re at that sort of tipping point right now where it could tip over into pandemic stage which I think will be kind of interesting to see it. I would guess first pandemic, is that our first pandemic in our lifetimes or has there been something that I’ve missed and didn’t pay attention to?
Dennis Kennedy: There’s been a few things they haven’t really reached out to us and then you can always say that the flu every year and especially this year is pretty significant in itself. Yeah, I don’t know, I just flew and I just think that airports are just a great way for pandemics to spread, especially those Dyson hand-blowers blowing viruses all over the place.
But, let’s get off of that track and I think that’s just one of many things leading us toward alternatives to travel, and for me, and I don’t know whether you agree at this time, I just think that plain old work from home is the biggest driver of the remote and video collaboration tools.
Tom Mighell: Or vice versa, because a lot of our clients, and we’ll talk a little bit — and a little bit about kind of advantages to being in-person versus being remote, but we have a ton of clients that we work with who actually prefer to meet by video because they have video, because they have the technology to do it, they have taken the decision because it is cheaper, it is more cost-effective than to fly everybody into meetings especially when you have, and I think working from home is one thing but you’ve also got a distributed workforce in many other different ways, got companies with offices in multiple places, like you said people working from home, depending on if we’re talking about law firms it’s not just about working from home but it’s about working in coffee shops, it’s about working anywhere, if you work in a co-working space too. They’re all over the place, and I think that our notion of where we work and where we have meetings has changed and I would say that’s largely because of the technology that’s enabled us to do that.
Dennis Kennedy: Well, especially on the video, I mean, I still think that microphones and picking up people’s voices is still the weak link on a lot of this, but I was trying to figure out whether the tech has gotten so much better or we’ve kind of adapted to the tech as it is. This is sort of this notion of like that the video phoning has kind of snuck up on us, it just got better and maybe it got good enough and all of a sudden it just seems really good, and I don’t know whether we partly adapted to that or that it’s gotten better. It’s probably a little bit of both, don’t you think?
Tom Mighell: So I think the tech has gotten a lot better. I think that we’ve adapted some better, but I’ll give you a story of what happened to me last week that will show that we still have ways to go. I have a volunteer group. They’re all lawyers that are on the group. They are lawyers in different areas, one is a Judge, one is in a big firm, one is in a small firm. We’ve got multiple people from different areas of the practice of law and I set up a Zoom meeting and it was as if I had set up a meeting with aliens from outer space and no one knew how to do it. I kept getting emails saying, oh, I need to download this for my IT department. I go, no, you don’t, you can access it through a web link and you can just take the call from your browser and you don’t even have to download or install anything or I couldn’t get it to work on my computer, so I’m using it out here on my phone and I can’t actually see anything. I’m like, well, if you download the app you could see everything because we can share your screen with you.
And so, it’s amazing to me how actual little adaptation there has been for many in a legal profession that they just don’t understand these because — and I’ve got to believe it’s just because there are still lawyers who don’t have to meet remotely with other people, they still have very local practices, they meet in-person because they are all in town with each other but it still struck me that I think we still have a long way to go to catch up to the technology that has gotten better for us.
Dennis Kennedy: Well, I mean, let’s talk about Zoom. I think that Zoom in my world has become ubiquitous, it’s almost like, it’s become a verb, it was like let’s Zoom this, and so it’s really surprised me, you think of WebEx and the other platforms how much people gone to Zoom and how it’s — it is one of those things you just go onto the app and it works, you can do audio and video, you can — like everything just seems really laid out but you can share your screen. I think it’s that sort of simple approach to it, really good focus on the functionality that you really need without kind of loading up on features, but it’s just surprising to me how much it is that everything is Zoom for me and I would say anytime that somebody wants to have a call with me, I get an invitation for a Zoom meeting, and that’s the route I’m going to serve.
In some ways it’s like the easiest decision and in legal-tech especially if you’re one person or a small place or if you have tech clients or that you’re just going to go with Zoom because that’s what everybody else is using.
Tom Mighell: Well, I will say that in the business that I’m in I think you can tell the age of companies that we work with by the conferencing service that they use because we still have some who are on WebEx and there tend to be the older more established companies and then we go to GoToMeeting, and GoToMeeting is still I think somewhat accepted by a lot of new companies, but then they started moving to Skype because Skype was the meeting service for a period of time.
But now they started to deprecate Skype for business, they are starting to go away from that and it’s kind of put a bunch of companies in a bad position because they kind of went all in on Skype and now they don’t really have a tool and they need to think about it, and now I think that all of the startups all the relatively new companies, we’re doing a lot of work with companies that are part of the whole dot-com era and there’s new Web 3.0 companies and they’re all on Zoom.
But I also am seeing a lot of people who are smart, who knew that Skype was going away also moving to Microsoft Teams to have teams meetings because if Zoom is an easy meeting to have, Teams, my argument would be is, almost an even easier meeting to have because you literally click a button and you’re there, you’re in a team meeting, it’s literally a one click and you’re in a meeting.
The thing I like about Teams is you can actually hold live events there, so it doesn’t have quite all the bells and whistles of Zoom, but it’s pretty close and if you’re working in a Microsoft environment, I think it’s a good option for — it’s probably not a great option for volunteers where you’re all coming from different places and not everybody is going to be using it, but if you’re in a law firm or you’re in a company I think that using something like Teams makes as much sense as using Zoom.
Dennis Kennedy: Yeah, I think you’re right on that, it’s sort of like everybody has to be in the same group and all of that sort of thing. What I like about Zoom is that in certain parts of the business world it’s just ubiquitous and it’s is so easy. I mean, it’s interesting what you said about lawyers because with Zoom, which we are actually on at the moment, we could go through the app or my mom, my wife’s computer and on using the web version of it, it works either way and it’s just super-easy.
So, like I said, Tom, I think that my feeling lately that surprised me is I feel more — I’m not going to call it pressure, but I sort of feel like I need to be to have a video presence on these calls when other people have those calls, and typically I didn’t do that before. Are you finding that you are appearing on calls more often on video than you ever have before?
Tom Mighell: For work I am not, for volunteering for extracurricular activities I probably am doing that more often. What’s interesting about work is that I find that the people who tend to be in our conference room together will turn the video on so you can see all of them, while the people who are working remotely don’t want you to see where they’re working, and so they tend to join more often just by audio.
And so, yeah, I think there’s a good mix. I think it feel — it really depends on where you are and how comfortable you feel and what capabilities, I think we’ll talk a little bit about etiquette in just a minute about if you’re going to appear on video, how to do it in a way that’s professional and doesn’t leave the wrong impression, but I tend to still do audio.
I will say that there are times where if you do use video depending on the Internet connection that you have, if you don’t have a strong connection doing both audio and video tends to denigrate or to deprecate, I guess is a better word, the connection, and sometimes you have some issues. I’ve seen people who’ve had to not use video just because it was hard for them to stay connected. I still think we’re in a day where the Internet connections are not all that great and that may be a factor leading to some people deciding not to appear on video.
Dennis Kennedy: Yeah, I don’t know, so I haven’t experienced that much. A lot of times it’s the audio that starts to cut out to become the problem, which kind of historically has been the case.
Tom Mighell: What I noticed in Microsoft team meetings is we have one consultant who admittedly lives way out in the desert where Internet is hard and we can have an audio call just fine, but the minute that he shares his screen the audio begins to suffer. And so I find that being able to do two parts of the meeting can be difficult, having the hearing part and the seeing part, it may be not a video thing but bandwidth definitely contributes to the way you participate on some of these calls sometimes.
Dennis Kennedy: And then let’s talk about the choice of having older eyes and participating in a call on your smartphone and then having somebody share the screen which feels like you need a microscope for that.
So even though that we’re talking about maybe some potential on reliability in the video world, I mean, if you think about it if you look about what you go through with travel these days, and we’re both about to travel to Chicago with the expected snowstorm. So, you know, how reliable our flight is going to be there in travel, so it’s really interesting how you start to balance these things.
I guess it really comes down to as in each of the examples you gave of, after in 2001 and in 2008, that really people step back and said when do real-life person-to-person meetings need to happen and when do they not, I mean, it’s sort of as simple as that, right?
Tom Mighell: I think it is and I think that the way that I judge it is really two things. What I notice the difference between an in-person meeting and a remote meeting is your interaction is much better. Even on a video call I find that it’s hard to engage with a person in a way that in the same way that if you’re sitting there two feet away from them and looking them in the eye, we used to talk about the whole tele-presence thing, which I think was the big deal a while back about kind of being able to see these floor-to-ceiling videos across and you could literally like you were in the room with them, these videos aren’t the same and I think that to me you can just connect better on a level. We find when we go interview people at our clients that the interaction is so much better in-person.
I think the other thing that video tends to lead to and it really depends on how the video is done and how it’s set up and how the person, where the camera is located, but I think that when you remote multitasking is a lot easier to do. And I’ve been in meetings where I can tell that people are not paying attention because they’ve gone to look at something on their phone or they’ve gone to look at something on their laptop, and doing that on video it’s not the most professional thing to do.
So I think that those are two reasons why person-to-person meetings are better. I don’t know that they’re ever required. I’ve read an article the other day about the fact that FaceTime testimony and family law cases is increasing in those jurisdictions that allow appearance electronically, which I really never thought would be a thing. I thought you got to be in court, you have to be there to do something, how else can they judge your credibility, but now when there are clients and others who are — witnesses who are unable to make it into court, they’re actually allowing them to appear by FaceTime.
So I can’t really think of a good place now where being in-person is absolutely mandatory or required. I think that sometimes it just — again a lot of people think that virtual conferences are great, but I love going to ABA TECHSHOW and being in front of people, so that’s the time what I’d prefer in-person, but I don’t think it’s required.
Dennis Kennedy: Yeah, well, the example you gave in the family law cases, it brings up the issues sometimes, the videoconference is a safety issue, I mean, it really promotes safety. So there’s a number of things that come into play. So I think that what’s interesting about this is that some of the stuff is sort of easy to figure out, so you could say, wow, if we don’t send people there and we have this videoconference we could save thousands of dollars in all this time especially if it’s time that you wouldn’t be billing for anywhere, that you would be riding off.
But, I do want to go back to that multitasking thing, Tom, because it leads to our kind of wrap-up topic which is etiquette and there are a lot of things — we’ve talked about etiquette before, there’s a lot of things that people do, but once you’re on video, you really need to think through it, and for me, I always tell people you got to assume that you are on people’s screens all the time during the call and you have to think about it.
Tom Mighell: Oh, I think that’s right. I think that there’s a couple of things that I think are kind of must-have etiquette tips for being on video, being on a call. The first is having a good background behind you, you may not think about it, but what’s behind you when that’s happening. You may have all seen the video of the commentator on the news who was talking to somebody from his home office and the child started wandering in and playing in the background, and being able to control what’s in your background I think is a good thing.
I really like Microsoft Teams has ability to actually put a blur so that they only see you and everything behind you is just kind of blurred. Zoom actually will allow you to put things behind you as well, you can put an image. If you use a green screen, you can actually use a green screen there and put anything behind it. So those are both pretty cool.
I think being respectful. Using the Mute button as often as possible because if you are remote, we understand you may need to take a call, somebody may come into your office, you may have other things that disturb things. So, use the Mute button when you’re not talking, when you don’t need to be there, don’t treat people to your heavy breathing and to other issues that are going on.
By the same token, dress appropriately, although you can work from home in your pajamas, don’t show up in your pajamas on a video-call unless everybody else is wearing pajamas. I mean, don’t dress to reflect the meeting that you happen to be in, and then I think it goes without saying, don’t multi-task. It’s just not a good idea during a meeting whether you’re in-person or remote.
Dennis, do you have any extra tips?
Dennis Kennedy: Yeah, just a couple ones, so when you are on video I think that you really have to consider lighting. So you kind of want to get an idea of what you look like and light yourself well, and that means both from above you and below you, so you don’t have like dark shadows and those sorts of things, so just pay a little attention to that.
Like Tom says, you do need to dress a little bit, but I always like to just you go with a solid shirt because sometimes stripes and other patterns can do some weird things, and then you do want to kind of test out what you’re looking like because it’s — so you’re not too close to the camera and scaring people and stuff like that.
So I think of it, it’s not a performance per se, but some of the performance aspects or things you need to think about. And I guess 00:23:31, Tom, is that this goes back to our notion of co-collaboration that we talked about in our book that as you look to select these tools, you’re always going to want to consider what’s the other people involved use and what makes things easiest for everyone, and so, you may have this idea that you go out to find the best possible tool, but what you really want is the tool that works best for the collaboration that you are working on.
Tom Mighell: All right, before we move on to our next segment, let’s take a break for a message from our sponsor.
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Tom Mighell: And now let’s get back to The Kennedy-Mighell Report. I am Tom Mighell.
Dennis Kennedy: And I am Dennis Kennedy. So one of the standard pieces of cybersecurity advice over the years has been to be super-cautious when using public Wi-Fi, and we’ve repeated and we’ve actually taken that advice many times over the years. Some recent studies have given us a reason to rethink that advice, at least a little bit. So, Tom, is public Wi-Fi not as dangerous as we think?
Tom Mighell: So the article that you referenced, which we’ll post in the Show Notes, makes the argument that “Public Wi-Fi is safer than ever” which to me sounds a little bit like saying, air travel is safer than ever. So let’s lay off all the security checks, and maybe that’s an extreme analogy, but I don’t think that my advice around using public Wi-Fi has changed any regardless of how safe it might be. Yes, it’s safer because encryption of websites has improved, that’s improved or fixed our biggest — that which I think is our biggest security risk to Wi-Fi, but you can never say that public Wi-Fi is completely secure, and I think that bad things can still happen.
So my advice still hasn’t changed. When you use public Wi-Fi, you should at a minimum use a VPN tool to connect to it we’ve talked about that many times on this podcast, you should have your basic security setup in place with a firewall and antivirus software installed and up-to-date, even with a VPN, it probably still isn’t a good idea to access very sensitive sites like your bank, stuff like that.
Now some of our friends I’m seeing these days actually are recommending not even using public Wi-Fi at all because they’re saying that VPNs themselves are not that secure. I’m not quite that far. They recommend instead using a hotspot with your phone’s data plan or maybe buying a hotspot as a standalone device, I actually try to use my hotspot whenever the signal is good, but that’s not always possible. I can’t always get a good signal in the hotel and some time that hotels Wi-Fi is just so much stronger and faster than my phone’s reception. So my advice there is still use a VPN, maintain all the regular precautions, and I think in most cases you ought to be okay. Am I missing anything, Dennis? It just feels like the same advice?
Dennis Kennedy: No, I think you’re back there. I mean, I think that you are right, things are more secure, and if you — so I would say it’s like use some common sense there, so if you’re in a hotel and a whole bunch of different Wi-Fi networks come up and one of them has the hotel name and the others have a bunch of weird names. You obviously want to use the one the hotel told you to use. The VPN, I use Nord VPN is really essential and then I think in some cases you would have like a portable router that would help.
So I do that, and then I think you need to think about what it is that you’re doing on these things. So, Tom, talks about sensitive sites. Part of my thing is I usually do not like to type any passwords in when I’m on any kind of public Wi-Fi thing and I’m definitely not buying anything with a credit card. So, I think it’s not as wildly dangerous as it once was, but I still think you have to use common sense and there’s some basic tools out there. They are the ones they always recommend.
So I think is an interesting study, I just don’t know that it’s one that I would want to, as you say, Tom, go like, oh my god, the security issues are over, I’m using public Wi-Fi however I feel.
So, now it’s time for our parting shots that one-tip website or observation you can use the second this podcast ends. Tom, take it away.
Tom Mighell: All right, so my parting shot is non-legal technology related, but it’s something I’ve been doing in the past couple of weeks that I’ve really enjoyed, and that is, we finally at home decided that we were going to cut the cord, that may not be news to a lot of you out there, you may have already done it, but it was a while for us. We enjoyed having lots of cable channels but we also weren’t big fans of the large bill that we were paying. So, I’m going to give my shout out to the service that we decided to go with.
We decided to go with YouTube TV and we’ve been using it now for about three weeks and we’ve really decided, we’re canceling cable, we’re moving to that has about 80 channels which includes all the channels we ever watch, if there’s other things we need, we will probably still connect to Netflix or to HBO or to some of those others on a monthly basis to catch up with things like that, but it provides all the live TV, it has an unlimited DVR, so you can basically save shows and watch them over-and-over again. It doesn’t have limitations to that, but it has been, I think a really great option and it’s only 50 bucks a month for those channels. So I think that’s a great deal.
The only change I’ve had to make is I now have to I think I just had to buy one extra Roku Box so I could access it, but if you have a smart TV or if you have a Roku Box or an Apple TV those are some of the common ways, a Google Chromecast, it’s been a lot of fun, had good time with it and looking forward to keeping the cord cut. Dennis.
Dennis Kennedy: Yeah, I’ve been leaving that way looking at it because that cable bill does get high, I mean, when you told me what your cable bill was, I about fell out of the chair. So you’re more motivated than many on that, so definitely on my agenda for this year.
So my parting shot is, we’ve talked in the past, I mean I think it was several years ago when we first started talking about 3D printing and the changes it’s going to bring to the legal profession and other things. So there was a great article on bespacific.com and Tom will put it, of course have a link in there, but it’s called 3D printing, has changes in the world, just a really nice list of all the things that 3D printing is doing now. And I think people would be surprised, some of my law students are already interested in what you can do with 3D printing for trial exhibits people are — I had a conversation the other day where people were talking about printing meat and other foods.
So there’s a lot going on and there are 3D printing houses in China. So, anyway, so to the extent that you want to get up to speed on what all is happening in the 3D printing world, which I think is important for many lawyers especially on the litigation side. This is a great article to do that.
Tom Mighell: So that wraps it up for this edition of The Kennedy-Mighell Report. Thanks for joining us on the podcast. You can find Show Notes for this episode at Legal Talk Network. If you like what you hear, please subscribe to our podcast in iTunes or on the Legal Talk Network site where you can find archives of all of our previous podcasts with transcripts and show notes.
If you’d like to get in touch with us you can always reach out to us on LinkedIn or leave us a voicemail. Remember, we’d like to get messages for our B segment, that number is 720-441-6820, so until the next podcast, I’m Tom Mighell.
Dennis Kennedy: And I’m Dennis Kennedy and you’ve been listening to The Kennedy-Mighell Report, a podcast on legal technology with an Internet focus. If you liked what you heard today please rate us in the Apple Podcast and we’ll see you next time for another episode of The Kennedy-Mighell Report on the Legal Talk Network.
Outro: Thanks for listening to The Kennedy-Mighell Report. Check out Dennis and Tom’s book, ‘The Lawyer’s Guide to Collaboration Tools and Technologies: Smart Ways to Work Together’ from ABA Books or Amazon, and join us every other week for another edition of The Kennedy-Mighell Report, only on the Legal Talk Network.