Are you trying to resolve disputes during COVID-19? On The Record (OTR) court reporting can help.
Ontario courts are closed until at least July 6, 2020 except for urgent matters, which leaves lawyers, mediators and arbitrators needing to quickly adapt to a new era of online conferencing and meetings.
We remain committed to our clients and will continue to provide the same quality service online. We can schedule your examinations, discoveries, hearings and mediations as we offer:
- Zoom meetings
- Microsoft Team Meetings
- Our team members are here to schedule your proceedings
- All proceedings are held in the comfort of your home or office
- Our court reporters and IT teams are available to assist you with the technical aspects of using the video-conference software
Here are some tips on conducting these meetings and hearings online:
- Work with our IT team to ensure that each participant has a strong internet connection, the necessary audio/video capabilities and knows how to use the video conferencing program prior to the meeting:
- This can include setting up a hard-wired connection with an Ethernet cable to ensure the most stable internet or testing your Wi-Fi internet speed
- Consider investing in an external mic and headphones to ensure the best sound quality and to cancel out background noise
- Conduct a test run. For example, Zoom offers a test page to check your internet speed: https://zoom.us/test
- Indicate at the beginning of the hearing or meeting where everyone is located as participants may be in different cities or even countries. Ensure that participants in different time zones are on the same page about the meeting time.
- Pick a spot in your home or office free from distractions. Ensure the background is clear from clutter and appears professional. Make sure you are not in front of a window as the glare from the sun can become very distracting to viewers.
- Ensure your laptop or camera is just above eye level so that the view of your face is not overtly angled. Look at the camera rather than at the screen when speaking to simulate eye-contact as much as possible.
- During the meeting, try your best not to talk over anyone. This makes it more difficult for the court reporter to hear what is being said. Enunciate and speak slightly slower than usual to make sure all the participants can hear you.
- Use the “Share your screen” function so that you can show exhibits or other documents with participants. It will be helpful to send these ahead of time to the court reporting service so that the reporter can easily follow along.
- Avoid multitasking during the call. Especially if you wear glasses, everyone will be able to see that you are scrolling from the glare of your lenses.
- Finally, have a Plan B set up with all the participants and our team. In the event that the connection cuts out, everyone will know which number to call in order to continue by teleconference.
Our counterparts in the U.S. have successfully used web-conferencing even prior to COVID-19 as it saves significant time and cost for flights, hotels and physical boardroom space. With the right preparation and patience as we adjust to using this new medium, we can continue to access justice while also doing our part to social distance appropriately and flatten the curve.