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Lawyers Ethics And Professionalism During The Age Of Virtual Hearings: A Budding Lawyers View

You are Reckless: SC slammed a Lawyer who appeared Shirtless during Virtual Hearings.

Can you believe this? Had it been a physical appearance, would he have even dared to think of this?

The pandemic forced a once tech-averse profession to suddenly adapt new technologies to function properly. But have the lawyers really adapted to it well? No!

Cases like these aren't seldom or by some. Allahabad High Court declined to hear a lawyer who appeared before the court (for a virtual hearing) while he was riding a scooter! Another lawyer appeared before the Supreme Court in a T-Shirt while lying on the bed. A senior advocate was caught smoking hookah during the virtual hearings.

Is this how we carry out a profession that happens to be associated with the 3rd pillar of democracy!?

The Virtual Hearing system of the Court has proved to be a failure mostly, if not completely. Incidents like these happen day in and day out. Judiciary is the most respected institution in this country and we just can't let its dignity, ethics, and professionalism get ruined at the hands of insufficient and inefficient technology.
The main problem with the virtual hearings is the misconduct that takes place and the missing ethics and professionalism in the lawyers and the parties as well.
Most of the people who work hard at workplaces consider home as their safe place, on arriving home they feel they've escaped all tension and responsibilities and now is the time to relax, they do not consider working from home as work! And hence they aren't serious about this.

There are various other concerns apart from the misconduct. One of the most important concerns in the virtual hearing of the cases is that it is a new system and for most of the lawyers who never needed or used such a thing, to get acquainted with it, will take time. Most of the lawyers are not satisfied with the online working of the matters.

Judgments aren't made just based on written laws; Judicial Intelligence plays a significant role too. For a judge or even a lawyer, while he's interrogating, he needs to see the body language of the person being interrogated, he needs to see his exact expressions and responses which is difficult to see as compared to a physical hearing.

And how do you know if the victim and/or witnesses aren't being influenced? You just can't see his surroundings other than the small portion displayed which is just sufficient to see his face.

Not everyone has a good internet connection, some can't afford it and some live in areas with not so well and even any accessibility of the internet and this leads to more delaying of the case. Some use this excuse to escape a crucial situation and to avoid any questions and simply blame it on the poor internet connection and other technical problems. People in the past have just escaped their way out of a dooming situation abruptly and blamed it on the internet.

Such miss-happenings only deteriorate the ethics and lets professionalism fly away from the legal proceedings.

There's no doubt that adopting technology is important and a necessity for growth and advancement. And Virtual Hearing is the future and has certain benefits too. It saves a lot of time and makes it easy to appear in courts and even if there's a delay the other person doesn't have to wait for long hours. The E-Filing of documents and other documentation processes has become easier and more corruption-free.

But these benefits can't be taken when so much is at stake; these benefits come with a whole lot of risks involved.
It's not completely lawyers' fault as the profession does hold dignity but, do the so called officers of the court do?? For many, owning a smartphone or a laptop is still a luxury.

As a law student, I get scared seeing such conditions where lawyers are struggling to adapt to the new systems. We need to understand it's not rocket science! I feel a little confident for myself and my generation of lawyers as many universities have moved to organize even moot court competitions online and many internships are available online which are already preparing law students to adapt to the usage of technology in the legal field. But these facilities aren't available everywhere which is a point of concern.

It can't be much clearer than this that Virtual hearings have definitely given wounds to the dignity and professionalism of the court and ethics have been compromised. And this is contempt of the court which would have been treated seriously otherwise but due to this age of virtual hearing, people can just blame it on the technology and get going normally.

The big cheese in adopting new technologies in any field is accessibility until everyone associated has access to the new technology: the purpose won't be served efficiently. Though the pandemic has created an opportunity for the Justice System to go online and clear a load of cases in the courts rapidly, but are we here to clear files or provide justice?

For such systems to work, proper training is to be given to the existing lawyers on how to maintain professionalism and ethics while the Virtual hearings.

Courts in The United States of America have a proper page dedicated to Judiciary Preparedness for Coronavirus and most importantly, it is frequently updated and includes a link to various federal courts to assess the individual steps being taken by the respective courts.

I feel Virtual Hearings should only be allowed in critical situations for a person-specific whose appearance can cause a public risk for example if a criminal who the police feel isn't safe to be escorted to the court, in a view that he might try to escape the police custody or might cause chaos in court if he is kind of a public figure or something.

The Dignity of the court is the most important thing and the reason why the citizens of the country believe in the Judicial System. Its professionalism and priority to ethics are what makes it respected among the masses. I feel immediate steps should be taken to educate the lawyers about the system and to clear flaws and try to make this system more effective and efficient. Moreover, the court could launch its own Virtual Hearing software for better control and discipline while the court runs online.

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