Working remotely is an entirely new experience for some lawyers, and many are struggling to adapt or even obtain the technology necessary for this shift. Dennis and Tom (okay, especially Tom) might be having an “I told you so” moment, but they also want you to know they’re here to help. They offer tips for struggling lawyers on the basics of working online, choosing collaboration tools, and implementing adequate security. In their second segment, they discuss the ins and outs of Zoom video conferencing virtual backgrounds.
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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The Kennedy-Mighell Report
A Remote Working Guide to COVID-19 and Beyond
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 257 of The Kennedy-Mighell Report. I am Dennis Kennedy in Ann Arbor.
Tom Mighell: And I’m Tom Mighell in Dallas. Before we get started we would like to thank our sponsor.
Dennis Kennedy: We like to Thank ServeNow, a nationwide network of trusted pre-screened 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 and probably more so than ever that collaboration is essential in today’s world, but knowing the right tools will make all the difference.
Dennis Kennedy: And Tom, what a difference a week or two makes. In our last episode we took a look, our annual look back at ABA TECHSHOW which now seems like it took place a few years ago, not a few weeks ago, and with most meetings now happening virtually and many of our listeners working from home, we thought it would be a good time to share what we’ve learned and some of our best tips from the last few weeks and even before that of this massive shift to work from home.
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 what for some people is the new world of remote working and our thoughts on what works and what doesn’t.
In the second segment, we are going to talk about the virtual Zoom Meetings background craze and as usual we will 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, what we’re learning about remote working and how collaboration tools work under stress. It does feel like a month since most of the country started working from home although at the time of this recording and has only been a week, I’m going to admit right up front that I may be unfairly amused, unfairly dismayed by watching everyone else learn how to do something that comes fairly second nature to me, especially since I’ve been working from home for almost twelve years now.
And so that is to say I’ve been surprised at what we’ve seen so far in a number of ways, we will be talking about that in more detail during this segment.
Dennis, what has surprised you most from observing ten days of the legal profession working from home?
Dennis Kennedy: Well there’s three things that I’ve noticed and like you Tom, I’ve had a fair amount of experience over the years working from home in a variety of setting but the three things I’ve really noticed that surprised me is one is how stable all the collaboration platforms have been, especially the online video communication platforms like Zoom and Microsoft Teams and others. So that stability is one thing and that’s a positive surprise.
I think the true lack of organizational planning in the legal profession which I didn’t have high hopes for what we would see, but I’ve really been disappointed in what I’ve seen in how slowly people who adopted the things, to the work from home, the really shocking approach of law firms that let their lawyers work from home but made their staff come into the office and the existence of some firms that really have no capacity to do remote work at all. So that’s the second surprise.
And then the third thing and Tom and I — Tom, you and I were just talking about this before the podcast, but it does surprise me in all the conversations I’ve had with lots of lawyers, there seems to be a universal belief among lawyers that this virus absolutely will not touch anyone in the legal profession and I think that may cause people or maybe causing people to make what ultimately would be poor decisions as they plan for collaborations and remote work.
Tom Mighell: Well I think that it’s true that a lot of people and it may not just be lawyers, it may be a lot of people who are thinking, well, this won’t happen to me, I am going to stay safe. It might happen to other people, it might happen to other lawyers, but when you have all the lawyers thinking that themselves, it can tend to wind up causing a problem.
I am going to give a general disclaimer at the beginning about — before I talk about what has surprised me and that is, I am likely to come off as a little angry during this segment.
Part of that is, is that Dennis and I have talked about so many of the things we are about to talk about today, over the past ten years in collaboration tools and it literally takes a pandemic before people starting to pay attention to them.
And I guess my general disappointment is that for all the tech conferences, for all the supposed interest in legal technology, many in the legal profession are just as ill-informed and unprepared as they always are. And as a result we are seeing a lot of panic, a lot of denial, a lot of mistakes being made.
And I guess it’s good, I guess it’s good that we are seeing this happen, I think growth comes from it, but still it’s saddening to me that it takes something like this for us to get to this point.
That said, real quickly, what has surprised me really is likewise the lack of organizational planning, but I really bring that back to, Dennis, we’ve been talking about this for 10 years, this is the sort of thing that that kind of organizational planning should cover.
Because I work from home all the time I have been surprised that at the level of loneliness and boredom that has creeped in over just one week of time, now what I will say that what has not surprised me is that associated lack of understanding on how to use the tools related to working remotely and we are going to talk a little bit more about that, but that’s kind of my in a nutshell on how that — the first week has played out.
Dennis Kennedy: Yeah, it really does seem that, that lawyers are just like children and not like the technology competent children we’re used to see, but just like children in trying to figure out some of these tools and being so fussy and unwilling to learn things.
But I think we are where we are and it doesn’t make sense to go back and kind of criticize people for what they’ve done in the past, people kind of have an understanding and know what they wish they would have done.
And so my approach is always like this, let’s kind of play it where it lies, we are a here in the now and we have to look and move forward, and so we just have a number of constraints that we might not have had if we had planned in advance. And now some, those constraints may become even more extreme as options that we have start to disappear, like somebody was talking about, oh we need to go out and get laptops and other things for people to work remotely, and I am like where — your whole States on lockdown, where do you think you are going to go out and get that stuff at this point.
And so you are kind of stuck with where you are and it’s going to be — it take a lot of creativity to say how do we make this work given what we have.
Tom Mighell: But here is where I am actually a little bit excited, 10 years ago, 12 years ago when the recession hit, the last time that the legal profession was challenged by what we will call a new normal, because after we emerge from that we had to invent new ways of doing things. We didn’t have all the tools we have today. We didn’t have all the technologies, the communication channels to work with each other and collaborate in the same way that we do now.
But now we are already seeing experts starting to call out that we have got to be ready for this, online we have the technology to actually communicate with each other and get something done. So I am actually really hopeful about this. I think that, that planning for the new normal whether we actually do it or not, I think that our capabilities are much greater. So I think that that increases our chances for getting to a new normal either sooner or in a better place once we get clear of all this mess.
Dennis Kennedy: Well I think you are right, Tom. There are a number of very solid choices for people. All the internet communication so far has been really solid, video conferencing I think is just really surprised people with how good and reliable it’s become. There are lots of ways to share information.
And to me it’s like — we are really finding, I am finding more outlets to use a lot of the remote working tools that I have used over the years and it’s a great opportunity for us in an odd sort of way to really put into practice a lot of the things we learned from writing our book and that we have recommended to people over the years, because I think it’s not just about like oh what’s the best tool to use this, you really kind of have to think about how people work together, how do you collaborate and what options you need to make available.
Tom Mighell: Well and so I will revisit my earlier theme about being somewhat angry during this segment because the book that we wrote is really about helping people to be prepared for something like this.
And now you and I are seeing articles titled ‘How the Pandemic Will Change The Legal Profession’ and all of those articles are all about using collaboration tools to work remotely or being able to collaborate.
Just imagine if lawyers had started doing this stuff even one or two years ago where everybody would be at this point and that’s my little — my little outburst, I think we need to say what’s the here and now, what are the things that we need to concentrate moving forward and say all right, we are here now, let’s see how we can all work together to make this successful.
So I guess what’s our forward-looking plan, what do we need to start with, I would imagine we would start with the basics, right?
Dennis Kennedy: Yeah. So I think you do look at the basics and I still think you want to take some time to start to think this stuff through. So I think there’s a — I have a general sense a lot of lawyers are looking to be super busy, keep themselves busy, find out what their clients need and so I just hear a lot of lawyers saying this, I am just so busy, I am so busy which lawyers are known for doing. But now I think there’s a sense that probably in another week or so a lot of that work is going to dry up as clients kind of focus on just keeping the doors open or just keeping the business going, the payroll being paid out and that legal, everything that’s legal is just going to go down to something essential. So I think that we are likely to see, many, many lawyers like to see a slow down.
So I think you want to do want to look forward, do some planning and then the basics, I think you have to have, are security and backup and it’s the time to really pay attention to that.
Unfortunately as in all things bad actors are looking at this as an opportunity and so we are already in a time of ransomware, other security issues and I just think you got to nail down what I will call the infrastructure and I think you may talk more about that, but how are you — what tools are you using, what is the internet platform, the other platforms you need and how do you make those as reliable as possible and then do what you can with security as you get into this mixed environment, that’s been kind of thrown together with people, sometimes on brand-new laptops, brand new software and working from home and not in the office and so you have support, security, other issues like that.
Tom Mighell: When it comes to the basics for me, I really think security is at the heart of it, but I want to start first though with what I really think is going to be the heart of it for us, which is good internet connectivity.
If you at home have a plan that’s only getting you 40 megabytes, you need to seriously think about investing in a stronger internet data plan. I have seen a lot of providers are starting to wave caps. They are starting to make it easier. I have noticed some stories that some of the providers are showing a little stress, because there’s a lot of more — a lot more people are using the internet, they are streaming more entertainment, they are doing other things, but look at what’s available to you because as we begin to work more online we need more connectivity, we need more bandwidth. So take a look at that.
And then how do you secure that internet connection? Do you have good security at the entrance to your Gateway? Do you have something like Eero, an Eero system or some other mesh network system that can protect any type of traffic from coming in? Do you need to use a VPN? Does your firm use one? If not, do you need to think about using one from home, if your system at home isn’t secure enough? Obviously having a good password on that network is a good thing to do.
The other basics that I think about are hardware. Obviously you are going to have a laptop, hopefully, you are going to have a phone or tablet or things to work on, but let’s talk about having a good webcam.
As we continue to be indoors and away from the people that we work with, being able to interact visually with people is going to become more and more important. I have seen some people being hesitant to get on a webcam and show themselves, I really think we are all kind of in this together.
Dennis, you were commenting that you saw me the other day wearing a t-shirt in a video when I am at home, I am casual. If I am meeting with a client, I am not going to wear that on screen, but if I am meeting with friends or other people I am going to be a little bit more casual and we all in this together. So obviously I think I am not advocating if we’re talking to our clients that we dress however, but I also want to say that don’t be afraid to show yourself on a video camera because I think that there’s that interaction that we are going to start missing the more that we tend to be cooped up and are required to be cooped up over the length of whatever this is we’re into right now.
Dennis Kennedy: Yeah. So those are all solid things and there’s even more that you can look at as you start to think how are we supporting the IT infrastructure of our remote workers and then sometimes even in the household.
So Tom and I have a friend who’s written a bit about his experiences with his two sons who are gamers, heavy online gamers and how he’s had to go into his router and kind of set rules, so that he has enough bandwidth that he can do his work and kind of limit what they can do.
So most of us don’t want to be that technical in what we do, but you could run into some issues just kind of figuring out who gets to use, what computer when and who’s using the internet when.
Then your other big thing is the whole communication with clients and the others that you work with. And to me, I just think this has to be a huge part of how you plan and you will start to think that through.
So I have seen a lot of things where people are really liking the once a week, sometimes even once a day video check-in kind of meetings. So I don’t know, Tom, are you seeing that as well?
Tom Mighell: Well at work we have check-ins every week anyway, because we are all remote. So I am used to doing that. We don’t always do video, but we are probably going to start doing that more often. I think that even though we are remote and we hardly see each other we have now started doing, we are now going to this week do our first virtual happy hour on Friday. Everybody’s going to get a beverage of their choice and get online and turn on the camera and enjoy that, but I think you’re absolutely right. I think if you work in an office and you are used to meeting with people during the week, the communications that you have with your coworkers will come naturally. You may not have a plan. A lot of law firms will have a daily meeting or some type of stand-up or something like that, but you may not, you may just get work done by seeing them in the office and when you are alone at home, working from home you don’t have that same ability to do the same thing.
So setting some type of structure and communicate with your team, whether it’s a standing meeting every day, a regular daily or a weekly check-in, having that regular contact is going to be a very important thing moving forward.
Dennis Kennedy: What I am saying is there is both synchronous and asynchronous communication. So you might be thinking oh, everybody’s doing the Zoom and they are doing video conferencing and so we have to do all this and then what you find is your days are just filled with meetings and that’s not really what you want. And the novelty of meetings online will wear off quickly, believe me.
So you are trying to look for the mix of communication that works. So you might — it might be email for some things or with some clients or people you work with, could be instant messaging, could be the — it could be regular conference calls, especially depending on where people are and what bandwidth issues they might have or technical issues they have and then some of the tools have chat functionality.
And I’ve been noticing that a lot of people will use several of these tools at the same time. So you could be on an online video call and then in the chat box, there will be conversations going on, sometimes several conversations going on at the same time.
And so you are seeing this, even in the same tool different channels of communication happening. And Tom, I was noticing the other day because this is something I have done with other people and it happens with you, we were having two simultaneous texting communications in Microsoft Teams in different channels and it was just the two of us at the same time, but we carefully put them into the right channel.
Tom Mighell: Well they were on different topics, Dennis, so of course they had to be in different channels.
Dennis Kennedy: So, some of those are like the new communication skills people are going to learn and that may be that you find — the sort of younger people that you work with or sometimes culturally in certain businesses or even in if you work globally, there are different approaches and preferences to communications that you want to kind of make sure that you align yourself with.
Tom Mighell: This is also where we talk about the importance of understanding how the tools work. A lot of lawyers are coming to these tools for the very first time and I think if you pay attention to the news or to the online reports you may have seen the new word that I learned this week which is Zoom Bombing, which means that a lot of people are using Zoom, we talked about it in with the second, the podcast before this, and we talked a lot about Zoom video, but what we didn’t talk about is, is that there is — when you’re having a — let’s say that your firm decides to put on a free Zoom meeting for clients or for people who want to join, you want to talk about Coronavirus and dealing with specific legal issues that might come out of that, there’s a setting within Zoom that allows anybody who is attending that meeting to share their screen.
And what we’ve been seeing is a lot of bad characters doing that in public meetings and showing very bad stuff to the audience and this is something that could be turned off by one check of one box in an administrative panel, and so it really pays to understand how these tools used.
Similarly, a group of doctors were meeting and someone forgot to put the mute button on because they weren’t familiar with the tool, they had one kind of expletive filled sentence about the one of the people who was talking and that ended the meeting rather abruptly.
So it’s about understanding the etiquette, it’s understanding how the tool is used. There’s a little bit of a learning curve, but it’s going to be an important part of how we have to kind of get along with everybody.
Dennis Kennedy: And we’ll talk about some more with our tips on videos, but also there is this notion of video muting and I’ve heard stories of people being on video and having clearly confidential documents that are readable on their desks that you can see on camera. So your awareness needs to change a bit.
So Tom, the other big thing I’ve noticed and this comes from the teaching I’m doing at Michigan and at Michigan State is, I really like the notion of keeping things as simple as possible, especially early on.
So don’t spend your time saying, I wonder what the best tool is or I’m not sure that — it should be Zoom or it should be Google Hangouts or it should be Microsoft Teams or I’m not sure about it’s kind of — just look at what you have. If you’re on an Office 365 platform, use those tools. If you’re in the Google world, you might — Google Hangouts may suffice and then it seems like Zoom is becoming more universal in the online video, but kind of keep things for your employees and for yourself very simple and then that you can explore the features but don’t dive in and do everything at once at the beginning.
So that’s one of the things I’ve learned and then you’re also going to have to be prepared to adjust to what the people you work with are using, and so you may need to learn a couple things but for yourself just kind of really keep it super simple and just make basic choices and then learn to live with them and then make changes later.
Tom Mighell: I agree with the super simple and if you’re already using it, then continue to use it. But I will give the caveat that if one of the things that that this is going to expose is that a lot of lawyers, not just lawyers, but other professionals are using dated tools, tools that we probably shouldn’t be using for things like that, and so that’s my one qualification when we talk about using being super simple, reading an article today about how the KPMG legal, legal people communicate in their areas of the world. They’re using Skype which is actually going to be deprecated in favor of Microsoft Teams for after a while. So it’s not the best tool to use. It’s an okay tool but it is, it’s not something that I would want to start using today and they’re also using the WhatsApp texting messaging platform which I’ve read a lot about security vulnerabilities, I’ve read a lot of the fact that Facebook owns it, gives me some privacy concerns with related to it and I’m surprised that such a large organization is using a tool like that to communicate.
And so I think that, that I think Dennis, you’re right that you should be simple, learn the tools that you have, but I think this is also an opportunity to say, is this still the tool that I should be using moving forward, because there might be issues. We don’t want people using old antiquated tools that aren’t going to let them collaborate and do as well, especially if this turns into a longer thing or if we continue this as a way of practicing law, that we’re using these tools even after we get out of our houses and we’re still practicing law virtually or online.
We need to be paying attention to what some of the new tools are out there even though we might not start using them immediately.
Dennis Kennedy: And there are a couple other basics I just wanted to touch on. So you want to make — it easy for people who want to work with you, to work with you, but I think even more important these days is you want to make it easy for people to pay you.
So getting paid is really significant, so you really want to focus on, are you taking credit cards, what types of payments do you accept? Can you make changes to that so you actually get paid because if this extends for a while, making payroll will become issues for some lawyers in some firms and then the other thing is try to identify if you have single points of failure.
So what happens if this person can’t do that? What if the person you’re relying on to get bills out and do other things get sick?
One of the things that a number of lawyers I’ve talked to recently have said, we have somebody going into the office to get the mail and that’s how we get checks, and that’s how we do things and in fact is no — I don’t think we know at this point if your state is on lockdown. I am doubting that somebody going into a law office to pick up the mail every day is going to be deemed to be essential. So you need to watch and plan for some of that.
Some of that stuff may already be out of your hand. So you’re going to need to look into some of those alternatives, but I just think that getting paid piece of the practice is going to become very significant over the next couple of months.
Tom Mighell: All right. So here are my tips and these are in no particular order and these are not really necessarily about the practice of law. These are tips for being successful at working from home. Things that I’ve learned over time and that are just sort of logical common sense tips.
One, get a real setup, don’t just sit on the couch with your laptop, that’s going to get old fast, it’s not comfortable, don’t be in your bedroom, your bedroom is where you sleep at night, don’t use that. Get a real set up, you have no idea how long it’s going to be and you need a place to feel like a real office.
Likewise, dressing clothes that make you feel like you’re at work. If you are in your pajamas all the time, or if you’re in sweats, you will be less motivated and less likely to be productive during the day. Likewise when work hours are over sign off, because your office in your homes start to blur, you need to make sure that your hours are segregated and that you stop working when it’s time to stop working, otherwise you’re working all the time.
I think it’s really great and Dennis you might want to talk about this more, having — because you’re working in silence, where you might have been working where there was noise or people talking, or things around, having soft music, or ambient noise, or ambient music, white noise, those types of things, terrific idea, lots of options, Dennis just talked about those before.
I didn’t think this was something people needed to understand but I saw it in a lot of tips, is that making sure you take breaks, take a lunch break, take frequent breaks during the day, really important to do. I do it already, so it was kind of obvious to me but there it is. I’ve mentioned virtual happy hours. We’re going to start doing that more often to, to talk to people more, to see them more, to talk about things other than work which is important which leads to these three things.
One, stay active. If you’ve got exercise stuff inside great, otherwise go outside and get walks, walk your dog, go and play in a place where you’re not around other people and then maybe look on your phone and download some wellness apps. I’ve been using the Headspace app for meditation for a while. I don’t use it as often as I’d like to, but when I do use it, I really enjoy it and so there — and frankly a lot of them are making those wellness apps free for a trial period now, because I think wellness is going to be a big issue for us over the next couple months as we start to get a little bit stir-crazy, a little bit of cabin fever and we start wondering what’s going on. I think these types of apps are going to have the potential to help us out a lot.
Dennis, any tips or any things that you do where we wrap it up.
Dennis Kennedy: Yeah. I just want to expand on a couple of things that you said, just a little bit as we wrap up here but, so the one thing that I want people to pay attention to is this whole anxiety issue that’s out there. So it’s not just that we have our mortality in front of us, front and center with this pandemic. It’s also that the stock market has dropped by 40% or so, so our savings and our wealth has been impacted and we don’t know how long this is going to last, we don’t know if people close to us are going to die, we don’t know if we’re going to have a job at the end of it.
So the — people are — have a lot of anxiety. We are in a profession that likes to pretend that we’re not having anxiety, so it’s easy to develop bad habits especially if you’re — if you’re at home yourself, it’s easy to take some extra drinks, do other things like that. So you need to pay attention to that.
A lot of people are talking about, there are resources out there definitely, ABA and others, but a lot of people are talking about this move toward TeleCounseling which could be significant since we have somebody to talk to when you sort of feel that the world is getting overwhelming.
I also want to say, the one thing I’ve noticed whenever I work from home, it’s really easy to put in long, long hours, because you don’t stop working. So you do — it is important to have that end of the day where you say, okay the workday is done. I’ve talked about how Spotify — but I think the other streaming services are going to have great ambient relaxation, productivity, focus, other playlists that are great when you’re working, and the other tip I have is that, it seems like even though in the past week that people become more willing to actually show themselves on video and almost no matter how — what they look like or what they’re wearing. So I think that people actually like it when you come on video and they can see you.
So even if you’re kind of self-conscious or a little nervous, I would experiment with actually doing, appearing on the video. So I think that’s where we’re at and then we’re all in this together, we’ll probably see some unexpected benefits out of this and I think we’re likely to see some significant changes into what the normal practice of law has always been.
Tom Mighell: And we will definitely look to update this and talk more about it in the weeks to come as things progress.
All right, before we move on to our second segment, let’s take a quick 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 as people get more comfortable with online video conferencing tools and as I mentioned Zoom kind of becomes the tool of choice for many, it shouldn’t surprise us that some quirks of both the platform and our personalities will start to emerge and so the big one I’m noticing lately is that people I know really putting effort into their Zoom virtual backgrounds, certainly much more so into what then to what they wear on their video calls.
So Tom, in fact we were on an online happy hour and I witnessed you worked frantically to try to get a virtual background up during a call. So let’s talk about virtual backgrounds, what they are and kind of share our best advice and tips on that, because it’s kind of a fun aspect of all of this.
Tom Mighell: So let’s be clear first and say that I was not frantically trying to get the background up. I was more frantic, trying to figure out what was going on with my computer, which I think is part of what we’re talking about here and that is — that Zoom in particular, but also other video conferencing tools allow you to have a background behind you to either one, make it a little bit more interesting, two, to not show what you’ve got. Let’s say that you don’t have the best set up at home and you’d like to have something a little bit different so that they don’t see where you live or you’re a private person, you don’t want people to see where you live.
I’ve mentioned before I believe on previous podcasts that Microsoft teams doesn’t have the ability to put in backgrounds but they have the ability to blur your background, which I think is kind of nice, because one, you can’t see what’s going on behind and two, it’s unlikely that you’ll have any, anything distracting going on behind you. So if kids wander in, or there’s a dog, or something happens behind, people don’t pay attention to that, they pay attention to you.
Zoom takes a different approach and allows you to add some type of photo or even video in your background and there are a couple that you have, that are pre-built in, there’s two images and I think two and the most up-to-date version, two videos like for example, the aurora borealis, you can actually see moving behind you if you put it in, and then there are a number of websites out there. If you just go Google Zoom video backgrounds, you’ll find a number of websites that will let you download photos that you can upload to your Zoom. I actually uploaded photos from my vacation, from Windmills, from Amsterdam or from the Great Wall of China, I’ve got — I’ve had that behind me.
What you have to pay attention to on Zoom though is whether your hardware will allow it. You have to have, your hardware has to meet certain specifications in order to have the background show up behind you without what we call the green screen, you may be familiar in movies of the green screen phenomenon and Dennis will talk a little bit more about that, but it’s something that you need to have if your computer doesn’t have the hardware to support the background.
For some reason, my laptop’s hardware doesn’t support it, but my desktops hardware does. They’re both surface devices so I don’t understand that. I’ve been talking a long time Dennis, I’ll just say, I like the idea of the background. I’m still playing around with it and experimenting with it, not sure it’s always totally professional in the legal context, but it makes — otherwise boring video session a little bit more interesting. What do you think?
Dennis Kennedy: Well, yeah, I just think it’s kind of an interesting phenomenon. So when you think, when people started to play with emojis and other things like that, some of the — and GIFs as we’ve talked about before. This is like another thing where you kind of personalize what it is that you’re doing and so there are a number of approaches and like you said, the computers I would use are underpowered, although I think my iPhone if I decided to use that would generate the virtual background for me.
So you’ll come on and some people are — have a background of being at the beach or whatever from their vacation, other people do things that it makes it look like their office. If somebody had this great idea of what you should do, is you take a picture of your office when it’s totally clean and organized and use that as your background. I was on a call once where somebody had looked like he was in an empty conference room and people said, why you’re in this big conference room all by yourself, like what’s going on and he said, oh actually that’s my virtual background and he had a green screen, he pull it aside, he goes, I am in my unfinished basement and when he pulled it aside you could see all these boxes and stuff that he was hiding.
So you can do a number of things. So I’m looking to the green screen world, unfortunately I didn’t get it ordered before Amazon started delaying shipments for non-essential items, which I guess a green screen is not considered essential. So you can kind of build your own, there are some different ways to do it. You can buy pre-built screens that are like projector screens, that are green screens that run from a $150 to $400. I’d like to find something that’s more like in the $10 range for this and I do think it would be a little weird to like order this fancy green screen projector for video things and then find yourself in the emergency room that would be kind of a weird comment on your life, but anyway, kind of a fun thing to personalize what you’re doing and a good way to show some of your favorite pictures.
So now it’s time for our parting shots, that one tip, website or observation that you can use the second the podcast ends. Tom, take it away.
Tom Mighell: All right. One of the interesting things that we’ve seen as part of the whole Coronavirus situation that we find ourselves in is that a lot of vendors, a lot of services are making themselves available free of charge both in the commercial world and in legal world as well and for legal vendors, Bob Ambrogi over the LawSites blog has made a page available of Coronavirus resources that I think is really worth your time to look at.
There are a lot of legal service providers who are offering either free services, or free trials, or five months free, or four months free or something like that. There’s probably something there that you haven’t used. This is a great time to test things out. To go and take a look and see if there are things that you could use or you might want to use. This is a — whether you need it or not right now, take advantage of the free and experiment. This is the perfect time to do it. It’s over at lawsitesblog.com, we will make sure to put the link in the show notes.
Dennis Kennedy: And it really is the perfect time because you’re going to be able to stress test these tools in an actual situation where they make sense.
So the other thing that’s happening is, you’re starting to see people in law pulls together and try to figure out what is it that we can do to improve the legal system to help lawyers and also to help with access to justice and other things and so you are starting to see a lot of those efforts and some coordination of those.
So the one that I’ve found — find really interesting is from Cat Moon who is a Law Professor at Vanderbilt, who’s really known in the innovation and design thinking world and she has a site that’s called makelawbetter.org. So it’s a legal innovation assistance project and she has asked people who are willing to help on legal innovation projects, to put their information into a simple spreadsheet and to say that they’re willing to volunteer and become resources and then she will use this.
So people are looking for help on things so — I know that courts have reached out to some people to get ideas of what they need to do going forward, and there have been some combinations that have come out of people seeing each other on the list.
So if it’s something that you would want to participate in, you can be a volunteer and if it’s something that you — were you looking to get some help with something that’s in the innovation space, this is a great place to start and I think it’s just going to be one example of the little communities and assistance groups that will sprout up over the next month or so.
Tom Mighell: And 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 on the Legal Talk Network’s page for this podcast. 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 along with transcripts.
If you’d like to get in touch with us, you can always reach out to us on LinkedIn or you can leave us at voicemail. Remember, we still like getting the questions for our B segment, that number is 720-441-6820. We would love to hear your remote working tips and what you are doing right now while you are working from home. 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 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.
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