Canadian Lawyer

February 2021

The most widely read magazine for Canadian lawyers

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Page 23 of 35

22 EARLIER THIS YEAR, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic's forced restrictions on personal gatherings, two arbitrators decided to conduct a series of simulated virtual hear- ings in order to gauge efficacy and best prac- tices. Between May and October, they coaxed arbitration and advocacy professionals from across North America to participate. The key takeaway from the experiment? "The hearing will only run as smoothly as the least-skilled individual and the most inadequate equipment . . . in the hearing," says Julie Hopkins, an independent arbi- Proceedings will only run as smoothly as the least-skilled individual and the most inadequate equipment, writes Elizabeth Raymer Virtual practice makes virtually perfect trator based in Calgary and co-author of the paper "Virtual Practice Makes Virtually Perfect: Practical Considerations for Virtual Hearings Identified through Simulations with Experienced Counsel and Arbitrators." "It only takes one stuttering screen to throw everything sideways," she says, but with preparation to address technical matters up front, litigants and decision-makers alike "can avoid a lot of issues." In the paper, Hopkins, principal of J.G. Hopkins PC, and Daniel Urbas of Urbas Arbitral, based in Montreal, made a number LEGAL REPORT LITIGATION HOW TO MAKE VIRTUAL HEARINGS SUCCESSFUL Two screens for each participant All users on headphones Prehearing technical meeting to satisfy requirements Hands-on practice by each participant before the hearing Third-party IT support Extra time built into hearing schedules to accommodate delays

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