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  • Gaynell Williams, LLC.

Virtual Consultations Between Lawyers and Clients After COVID-19

Updated: Apr 24, 2021

When the COVID-19 pandemic began in 2020, many lawyers learned that they had to meet with their clients online. With programs like Zoom, WebEx, Adobe Connect, Skype, Google Meet, Facebook Messenger, Go to Meeting, Microsoft Teams, lawyers began to have initial consultations with the prospective clients or their clients on the Internet. Because many lawyers offer free initial consultations, lawyers began to meet with their clients for the first time online. These software programs allowed the lawyers to see and hear their clients and to discuss possible representation of the client without ever meeting in person.

Even though the first contact with the client may have started with the traditional phone call, to give new clients an opportunity to “meet” their new attorney, an online meeting was usually scheduled. This allowed the attorney to meet with the client without wearing a mask or risking being exposed to the COVID-19 virus. These steps allowed lawyers to continue their law practices under the COVID-19 protocols which would ensure the safety of the lawyer, client, and law office staff.

When the client hired the lawyer, the lawyer could sign the attorney-client retainer contract or engagement letter to the client by email using a program like DocuSign to enable the parties to e-sign documents; however, there are many alternatives to DocuSign, Signnow, Adobe Sign, PandaDoc, Formstack Sign, Eversign, and HelloSign. The electronic contract between lawyer and client is just as valid as a paper contract that was used extensively before the pandemic. As a result, lawyers and clients were able to sign representation contracts such as personal injury contracts, divorce contracts, criminal defense contracts, immigration contracts and many others.

What Happens When the Pandemic Ends?

Perhaps this is a trend that will continue after the pandemic. Free initial consultations will continue. And clients will have a choice. They will be able to meet with their lawyers in person or on the Internet. Most of us are now accustomed to conducting business on the Internet. There will be many times when it is not convenient to meet in person such as when a potential client calls a lawyer the night before or hours before a court hearing. With the Internet, the client can hire the client and sign the engagement letter the same day that she hires the lawyer. Once the engagement letter is signed, the lawyer can begin work immediately. As a result, the personal injury lawyer can begin the process of obtaining the accident report, the medical records, and begin the investigation to develop the facts in order to prove the client’s case. The attorney who represents homeowners or businesses in a hurricane damage cage can go to the site immediately to interview witnesses, take photographs, and obtain the necessary documents to prosecute the case. The criminal lawyer can hire an investigator immediately.

This information has been provided for informational purposes only and is not intended and should not be construed to constitute legal advice. Please consult your attorney in connection with any specific situation under federal and/or Louisiana law and the applicable state or local laws that may impose additional obligations on you and/or your family member. © 2021 Gaynell Williams LLC Attorney at Law.

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