Access to Justice: Trial Lawyers
Video Conferencing and the Billable Hour
The use of video conferencing during COVID-19 reduces an attorney’s billed time broadening the access to legal representation.
Eliminating the attorneys time for court appearances. Driving to court, waiting in court, and of course drive time returning to the office.
While not exclusive to every attorney, for any court appearance the billed time begins when the attorney departs the office, driving to court, finding parking, and lastly walking to the courthouse and then courtroom. Multiplied times two for the return to the office.
Video conferencing, off the bat, eliminates this expense throughout every courthouse in every circuit. And the reduction of billable hours being greater the longer the time it takes getting to and from court.
The pure economical dollar is real. If it takes 30 min to get from the office to court, times two for the return trip then one hour of measurable billed time reduced.
Also, anyone that’s been to court knows it is rarely an in and out process, rather often, hurry up and wait. Although a more difficult time to measure due to every court appearance length varying. However, this is real billable time, ask that client if a hundred dollars or more that stays in their pocket is real, and if video conferencing should be implemented.
Economically the numbers are clear, convincing, and actual. Even further is the, an hour saved is an hour earned; to better case manage, research, draft or whatever you choose is the best use of that time saved.
This is not meant to eliminate court rooms. There will be plenty of times when in-person hearings are needed. During this time not being in vain, every industry should learn and carry away some added value to its operations from COVID-19 and this one for the legal profession.
The question of whether Missouri should implement broader video conferencing availability is obvious. The tougher question is which video conference to use, Zoom, Google Meet, Webex?
The use of video conferencing during COVID-19 reduces an attorney’s billed time, widening the access to legal representation, reducing cost for the state of Missouri.