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LTRC Roundtable Dialogue: Expertise Failure

Sometimes technology is your best friend, sometimes your worst enemy! This month we asked our panel to tell us about the most recent and most common technology bugs.

Our panelists:

Allison Shields Johs (ASJ), William Goren (Flat share), Dennis Kennedy (DK) and Lance Johnson (LJ).

What’s the worst technology failure you’ve ever experienced yourself?

ASJ: It’s hard to pick just one – but two similar nightmares have to do with internet errors in live webinars or web meetings. At one point, my co-host dropped out completely for a few minutes during a live presentation with hundreds of attendees. More recently, I was doing a live virtual training with multiple attorneys in a client’s office when my internet went down completely and I couldn’t get back to the meeting.

Flat share: My common mistake is that Dragon files get corrupted and I need to create a new user profile. More than often, kite files get corrupted and I have to replace them with backup files that are not corrupted.

DK: Have you ever used a conference-provided remote mouse or conference-provided clicker to give a presentation? I’m still waiting for one of those to work properly. My favorite was when I had to take around 50 feet of projector cable screwed into my laptop port to my next presentation to find someone in the audience with a screwdriver.

LJ: My worst mistake was a new ediscovery tool that was oversold by the sellers and didn’t work as smoothly as suggested. The sales company is one of the big companies in the legal market, so I trusted the pitch. It turned out that the system would only work if the company selling the product to employees was hired and the system was operated.

How did you solve it?

ASJ: In the first situation I was fortunate to be able to continue the presentation on my own until my co-moderator was back online, and then we simply reintegrated him into the program.

In the second case, I had to continue training over the phone, and instead of sharing a screen, we would look at my slides one at a time. It wasn’t ideal, but in the end they got the information they needed. And of course I offered to do another training session if they needed it!

Flat share: Replace the current file with the backup file; Back up the file on a flash drive.

DK: See my earlier answer. Another major mistake occurred when I couldn’t get my screen to display on the projector for a large presentation. Fortunately, Tom Mighell was there to fix the problem. This option is usually not available.

LJ: I found a much smaller local company that had an established ediscovery business. Their offers were appropriate and designed so that the costs could be invoiced and justified in the monthly customer invoice.

What is the most interesting moment that you have seen video conferencing?

ASJ: I’ve seen a lot of whoops moments, although none are as bad as some of the horror stories I hear from others. The most common moments I’ve seen are interruptions in the middle of a meeting by family members who don’t realize they’re in an ongoing meeting, or poorly thought out backgrounds or camera angles – no one needs to see your unmade bed during a professional meeting, and no one wants to only look at the top half of your face during a zoom call.

DK: I am still amazed at people who loudly say at the beginning of Zoom meetings that they don’t really know how to use Zoom and keep demonstrating this fact in the meeting. This stuff can be learned from young children. It really is possible for lawyers to learn too.

LJ: It was probably something I did, so I’m not going to throw stones.

What is the worst technical flaw you’ve seen in a document (e.g. worst information you’ve seen in a previous customer’s document)?

LJ: Nothing special.

DK: I’ve seen too many to even know where to start. My favorites are the ones that indicate what the fallback negotiating position will be. Made me a much better negotiator.

How can we best adjust to avoid technology flaws, or what technology can be used to prevent these horror stories from happening in the future?

ASJ: Tech mistakes will happen – there is no getting around them. But I think the best way to minimize them is with good preparation – double-check the technology you will be using in advance. Eliminate distractions or outside influences that could be causing a problem. Notify others in your home or office if you shouldn’t be interrupted. Always have a backup plan so you know what to do if something goes wrong – have a backup of your slides or other data; Develop an alternative plan if your audio isn’t working or your headset suddenly fails. Know who to call when your technology isn’t doing what you expect.

DK: Things happen. It’s a wonder all of this works as well as it works. Keep experimenting. Be willing to learn from mistakes. Ask questions and ask for help with humility. My best technique these days is checklists. Don’t assume that you won’t forget about things. I have about ten items on my checklist to initiate Zoom calls for my classes. When I don’t use the checklist, I usually forget something. I now rely on the checklist, not me.

LJ: Aside from a good set of 2nd eyes, it has to be personal care and the development of a fault-detecting muscle memory.

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