For several months all of us have been meeting the challenges of being at home and working remotely to ensure our clients continue to get the best representation possible. Many courts have continued to hold substantive hearings during the pandemic, and lately even some trials have resumed. But even if we go to court periodically, our primary work and other obligations continue to be met from home through a virtual connection. This situation will stay that way for several months to come.
One unique challenge we face with remote work is the lack of opportunities to collaborate in person with our colleagues as we prepare for cases and hearings. I’m talking about brainstorming, whystorming, storyboarding, or whatever you call the thing where you put post it notes all over the conference room wall and have your most trusted work friends give you honest feedback and suggestions about how to arrange the facts and law to make your case stronger. The good news is that there are some online options brainstorming sessions that are free, easy, and safe to use.
The first is (obviously) our new but familiar friend: Zoom. Even if you only have the free account you can have unlimited time for a 1 on 1 meeting session and share your screen (usually at the bottom center of the display). When you share your screen, look for the “whiteboard” option, and “share” the whiteboard with your other participant(s). You can add “text” to the whiteboard for each fact or point that you want to discuss. Add these individually, then “select” the text boxes to move around the board. You can have your colleagues “stamp” facts with a checkmark, a heart or an x, and during the discussion you can “spotlight” or direct an arrow around the board as well. It will take a few extra minutes to set the board up and get used to the controls, but once you do it is very easy. You can save and share the whiteboard at the conclusion of your session, it will appear in your documents in a zoom directory as a .png file. More information is on zoom’s website: https://support.zoom.us/hc/en-us/articles/205677665
If you would like more functionality and also the ability to set up your whiteboard in advance, I recommend using Google Drawings, and all you need is a gmail account that comes with a free drive. Go to your Google drive and select “+new”, then “more” then “google drawings” for a blank canvas to set up your virtual post it notes. You can “insert” different objects, including “shapes” like squares or rectangles (you can even color them yellow!). And, just like actual post it notes you can write directly on them without the step of adding a text box. Once you have all of your points set up on notes around the board you can move them around to rearrange the order, or stack them up of your colleagues think they can be combined or simplified, or even push them off to the side if you want to save them for a separate part of the case. Name the drawing and “share” it to work in real time either by conference call or google hangout. When you are done you should “download” the document to save it (.pdf or picture formats) then delete the drawing if you are worried about anyone else having access to the live link on the internet.
Happy (virtual) collaborating!