Recently, there’s been a spate of blog posts, lamenting what we are missing, given the COVID-19 pandemic.

I get it. We really need to get back to our regular routines and physical connections.

Yesterday, I responded to Kristin Gallucci’s request on LinkedIn, as she asked her followers to chime in about “what I miss not working in an office.” If you’re not familiar with Kristin, she has 10K+ LinkedIn followers, compared to my piddly 500+ connections. Regardless, I took the bait and replied, “Although I’ve been WFH (working from home) for many years, I still miss being able to pop into a colleague’s office and read aloud what I’ve just written… Like, ‘does this sound right to you?’ It just not the same with email.” I also added to the discussion, referencing one of my favorite lines from Private Benjamin, as Goldie Hawn’s character is forced to walk in the rain and proclaim, “I wanna wear my sandals. And I wanna go out to lunch. I wanna be normal again.”

It’s true. These Zoom meetings just aren’t cutting it. And “Zoom Fatigue” is a real term now. Trying to watch important news interviews beamed over satellite can be a painful experience. I recently watched Olivia Troye, the former aide to Vice President Mike Pence and a member of the coronavirus task force, who was being interviewed. I heard her dog barking in the background – and not just once, but several times. Still, she was very professional and continued to speak without missing a beat, as if to say, “That’s my dog; you deal with it.” (I’m right there with you, Olivia!) Whenever my FedEx or UPS guy rings our gate, my dogs go nuts. I can only mute my phone so often, or exit the Zoom meeting to deal with the chaos. And now my head is hurting.

It’s just not the same. So back to Kristin’s query about what we miss. I need that boost of energy that comes from someone having my back at the office. I want someone to hear me out, following a feeling that I blew it at some silly meeting. Now, I have to schedule a call just to get a colleague’s attention! And when you chat with your colleague, he’s distracted because he’s making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich while you pour your heart out. This scenario reminds me of when you finally see the doctor, whatever malady you had when you made the appointment was self-limiting and has magically disappeared.

Then again, I’m actually liking the whole telemedicine thing. I don’t have to sit in a waiting room, cool my heels, or feel pissed that my doctor’s time is apparently worth more than mine. Or, finally, waiting for my name to be called, only to be escorted into an empty room without a WiFi connection. I like the one-on-one with a Zoom call with my doctors, who seem more focused and caught up-to-date with my records. It’s a win-win.

Okay, but can the telemedicine approach work for lawyers? I’m seeing how my law firm clients are applying video conferencing technology with some pretty ingenious workarounds. Sure, there are some dropped connections and glitches. Still, many of the earlier security issues and inadvertent Zoom bombing episodes appear to have been resolved. That said, I would be extra cautious about corporate deal rooms. Good2BSocial’s post, “How to Secure Your Law Firm’s Zoom Meetings from Hackers,” offers some handy tips.

So what’s next? Fingers crossed, there will be a COVID-19 vaccine next year, and things will eventually settle down and return to normal. We know that law firms are reassessing their real estate needs – and footprints. And some of the latest lessons learned and tactics will naturally seep into law firm processes. For instance, not all meetings must be in-person. Lawyers can adopt a more casual, yet professional approach, even in the most serious matters. But in the interim, will this “new normal” make profound and lasting connections with clients? I really hope so… Provided you mask-up, apply social distancing protocols, and keep your chin up.

Written by : Nancy Slome

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