The COVID-19 pandemic is not only a health crisis but also a human rights crisis. That is according to the Pathfinders, a team of United Nations (UN) member states and international organizations aiming to uphold the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals for peace, justice, and inclusion. Their Justice for All report in 2020 noted that the justice gap is widening, which means that vulnerable people are facing more legal problems, but justice workers cannot respond sufficiently.
Emergency directives such as lockdowns created a higher risk of crimes like gender- or domestic-based violence. The loss of jobs has also led to more individuals seeking help with unemployment benefits and eviction. Unemployment, death, and other traumas couples face have also led to more people showing interest in getting a divorce attorney.
With a public health crisis still upon us, legal workers have sought to make their services accessible through online consultations. But how reliable are these consultations? How exactly can you get in touch with a lawyer remotely? These frequently asked questions (FAQs) will be answered in the succeeding sections.
Are online consultations reliable?
Understandably, some people would prefer to communicate with lawyers face to face. Not only are these in-person consultations more personal, but they also offer a sense of security that may not be felt in online sessions. However, clients should rest assured that necessary precautions are observed when lawyers deal with clients online. To be specific, lawyers are trained to use secure channels, encryption software, and virtual private networks (VPNs) when handling client communications. All of these measures are put in place to ensure that confidentiality is upheld even in online consultations.
What tools are used for virtual legal services?
Courts in New York have begun to put up or upgrade their websites to allow citizens to file lawsuits and nonessential matters. This measure is understandable considering the risk posed by leaving the house and gathering in an enclosed space. Besides this, law offices have also been offering services via hotlines, teleconferencing, and video call for some time now.
However, for clients’ and lawyers’ safety, the use of these apps and sites has skyrocketed since the pandemic started. These platforms are easy to download, access, and use. More importantly, they are often equipped with safety mechanisms. If not, they can easily be paired with the safety measures enumerated in the previous section.
Is a virtual consultation suitable for me?
Virtual consultations offer the same degree of confidentiality and professionalism. Legal professionals can still deliver sound advice even through online platforms. In fact, virtual consultations can even cut costs and save time for both clients and lawyers. Hence, virtual consultations can be ideal for several types of people.
For instance, businessmen who do not have extra time to spare to see their lawyers can opt for online meetings. Likewise, single parents will not need to leave their children at a daycare and spend money on transportation. Individuals who are home-bound or who have any comorbidity, or those who live far away from law offices, can now talk to their lawyers easily.
The ongoing health crisis is one more reason for clients to opt for remote consultations. In short, virtual consultations are for anybody, especially those who wish to take extra precautions or those who want to save precious resources.
How can I consult a lawyer remotely?
Law offices will have different guidelines for their virtual services. However, here are a few steps you can take if you plan to consult a lawyer online.
1. Contact the law office. You can either do this by looking up their website or calling them directly on the phone, depending on which contact details are available to you. Ask them if they offer virtual services. If their website is up-to-date, you may even directly book a virtual consultation with a few clicks.
2. Take note of the schedule and communication platform. After booking a consultation, make sure to jot down the schedule and platform used for your session. Usually, law offices would use the videoconferencing platform Zoom. If you are unfamiliar with the platform, install it in advance on your phone or computer and try to explore its features. Ask your lawyer to take extra security measures, such as requiring a password for a Zoom meeting.
3. Protect your documents. Though the law office may instruct you about protecting your documents, it is good to know a few basic security tips. Use a secure mailing platform (e.g., Postal Methods) and a reliable tool (e.g., Adobe Sign) for signing documents electronically.
Legal workers are now taking advantage of technology to serve their clients better. Communicate with your lawyer and familiarize yourself with the platforms and tools needed for handling documents and communications.