Virtual Litigation in Divorces and Family Court
Divorce and Family Court are very personal. Family Court involves, most often, child support and/or custody. During the pandemic, court functions were mostly suspended and appearances in court for non-criminal matters were canceled or did not occur for months.
The court system has started to use Microsoft Teams. This is done through IOS, usually an iPad.
Using the iPad in connection with Microsoft Teams is fully interactive. Unless the attorney actually has a good set up, the client will not be served well.
Virtual litigation requires the use of a 30-inch screen or larger. Your clients and yourself must be able to see the screen that contains the Judge, the opponent and the other people involved in the case (possibly a witness; law guardian or third-party) in small boxes that will appear on the iPad. The iPad will be used by the attorney during arguments, but he will be holding it and the client will not see the reaction of the Judge of the opponent. A second screen is necessary for any client to see the reaction of the opponent and the Judge. Anyone who is doing virtual appearance with only an iPad is not being served as well, as they will not see the reactions made by others when their attorney is making statements because the attorney will be holding the iPad. You cannot be close enough, ever, for a right-handed attorney to write notes and make statements with a client on his right side. If the client is on the attorney's left side, depending on which is the client's dominant hand, the client could be interfering with the attorney by writing notes themselves.
In addition to the above, do not attempt a virtual court appearance without a separate sound system. You do not want to hear what the Judge is saying about your life through an iPad because it is going to come out of a speaker that is not even the size of a dime and is going to be held by someone other than you. That is the iPad experience. You need a separate sound system in order to record appropriately and listen appropriately. Clearly, the lawyer who is clearer and better understood will most likely win some points with the Judge. If your voice is clearer and better understood (because of the extremely sensitive external accessory microphones), you will have an advantage over the attorneys who have not figured out how to really litigate in a virtual environment.
Our law firm was one of the first to appear in court after the closure. We have conducted trials and hearings using virtual reality, and on portable devices. We have conducted these hearing and trials in Long Island courthouses. We have 10 attorneys, a team of paralegals and staff. We have a great knowledge of the different preferences between the judges in each county. The courts are not as uniform as they used to be, as each Judge is making up their own system or way to interface with the attorneys and clients in order to administer proper justice. The judges are trying hard and it helps to have an attorney who has already been before that judge (the top attorneys at our firm have a minimum of 10 years experience with Mr. Salamone having 26 years matrimonial litigation experience). The attorneys that are well know by the judges before the pandemic, do have a huge advantage. The judge knows whether they are commonly known to be truthful and passionate or less than truthful and conniving. The attorneys that have long-standing relationships with courts and have handled thousands of cases with each court in each part, clearly have favor. Our firm has handled more divorces than any exclusively divorce and family law firm on Long Island.
Technology aside, many law firms have not invested time, money, and attention to virtual litigation as many thought it would soon pass. Whether it passed or not, we have the staff and the infrastructure to immediately respond to the needs of emerging technology. We have the relationship with the courts since before masks were put on.
Our firm processed hundred of divorces since the beginning of the pandemic. We have done them virtually; by telephone; and on some occasions, by personal appearance during the pandemic. We have submitted divorce papers in Long Island and New York City. Our contact with the courts and the clerks is significant on a daily basis and the courts know what to expect on a virtual trial with our firm. If you are searching for a law firm to represent you in a divorce or family law matter, look carefully how they responded to their clients' needs during the pandemic. If they were not conducting trials, that would be a sign that they do not have experience on virtual-reality trials. If the firm has little to no knowledge with virtual-reality hearing or trials and or may have a disdain towards that technology, stay far away. That would be a firm that did not immediately transform itself to the needs affecting its clients. Our firm only handles divorce and family law. We have been doing so for decades and I assure you, virtual reality was not something that was on any attorney or court's mind before this pandemic. The courts have done a great job of doing what it takes to become responsive in face of the pandemic, especially in light of their incredibly large workforce. Our firm has also worked incredibly hard each day through the pandemic and to the present because, although this was never anticipated, once it happened, we reacted to help our clients. If you want a firm that is consistently evolving to the betterment of their clients and to achieve better results in court whether in person or virtual reality, hire us.
Bryan L. Salamone & Associates, P.C. handles only matrimonial and family law matters. Mr. Salamone has been practicing for over 26 years and his firm, under his direction, has handled thousands of cases and continues to handle the same or more cases as a result of this pandemic. We have adapted ourselves to best advocate vigorously and effectively for clients using this new technology. Inexperience can cost a client their case. Our firm has hundreds of active cases in both Nassau and Suffolk and in New York City and the boroughs. Each judge in each county (that handles both matrimonial and family law) has a dozen of our cases or more. Prior to the pandemic, we were in court every day in all counties with an army of lawyers. During and after the pandemic, we are still relishing each and every opportunity to go to court, and we have also set the standard for virtual-reality litigation in the matrimonial arena. Virtual reality is not just for gaming, it may be how your divorce or family law trial is conducted. And, that is no game.
Bryan L. Salamone and Associates P.C. is based in Melville and serves all of Long Island. To schedule an appointment for a free consultation, call 1.631.479.3839 or contact us online.