Tim Louis: How Zoom has changed my life for the better

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      A while ago, I blogged about some of the silver linings in this terrible COVID-19 pandemic. One of the pluses I haven’t mentioned is the increased use of video communications, like Zoom or Jitsi Meet, for conferencing, webinars and more.

      In my law practice, we’re now doing all examinations for discovery by Zoom. A discovery is a step in a lawsuit in which the lawyer acting for one client questions, under oath, the opposing client. For instance, in one of my files, I act on behalf an elderly gentleman who took a bad tumble when descending a stairway at the rear of a building where he’d gone on business. At the bottom, the stairs were uneven in height.

      Yesterday, the lawyer for the defendant questioned my client under oath using Zoom. My client was in the comfort of his home. He had access to his kitchen during the lunch recess. Defence counsel was also in his home, and could enjoy the same comforts. The defendant’s counsel has a summer student, and she attended the conference via Zoom from her home.

      I also attended the discovery using Zoom, and what an incredible time saver it was for me. It eliminated the need for my taxi ride to and from the discovery, which normally would have been held in the court reporter’s office in downtown Vancouver. But in this case, the court reporter was also able to attend the discovery from her home.

      My partner, Penny, and I are very lucky to have a beautiful south-facing deck at our house. If it had been sunny yesterday, I could even have attended the discovery on my back deck, sun tanning!

      Zoom discoveries are becoming so popular that I wonder if lawyers will return to in-person discoveries when the pandemic ends. In this case, not only did the five of us perform our required duties comfortably and efficiently, we also didn’t use any transportation, so we really reduced our impact on the environment.

      But the applications don’t stop there.

      My partner, Penny, and I are actually having dinner parties with friends more frequently now, using Zoom, that were in-person before the pandemic. Every Saturday we have a Zoom “dinner party” with a different couple.

      The other evening, I attended an international Zoom conference at which the American actor, Danny Glover, interviewed the Cuban ambassador to the United States for over an hour about Cuba’s international health-care initiatives. This fascinating event was enjoyed by more than 700 Zoom attendees around the world. (If you missed it, you can watch it here.)

      These are just a few examples of how people in a variety of settings are finding new ways of conducting business, organizing conferences, and just enjoying each other’s company.

      Overall, for those of us lucky enough to be able to access these technologies, it seems to be working. At the same time, we’re definitely having a big, environmental effect—lowering pollution levels and carbon emissions.

      The question, post-pandemic, is: will we resort to old habits or embrace new ways that will ensure these positive impacts are long-lasting?

      Daily atmospheric CO2 [Courtesy of CO2.Earth]

      Latest daily total (Jun. 23, 2020): 416.13 ppm

      One year ago (Jun. 23, 2019): 413.33 ppm

      Tim Louis is a Vancouver lawyer and former city councillor and park commissioner. This article first appeared on his blog, which lists the daily carbon dioxide count in parts per million in the atmosphere at the end of every post. The Georgia Straight publishes opinions like this from the community to encourage constructive debate on important issues.