Special Feature
Part of a ZDNet Special Feature: Working from home: The future of business is remote

Florida lawyer forgets to wear shirt for Zoom court hearing

It seems some professions are adjusting better than others to working from home. One Florida judge has had enough.

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Lawyers are being given a dressing down.

(Image: CNET UK)

It's an adjustment, isn't it?

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Working from home requires a different sort of personal discipline and the hope that your dog won't bark at the wrong moment.

It seems, though, that some professions have adjusted better than others.

In Florida, for example, there's a worrying phenomenon. Some lawyers appear to be taking liberties during Zoom court hearings.

Indeed, things have become so difficult that Broward County Judge Dennis Bailey felt compelled to make an announcement on the Weston bar Association website.

He observed: "The judges would appreciate it if the lawyers and their clients keep in mind these Zoom hearings are just that: Hearings. They are not casual phone conversations."

It's easy to confuse working from home for a very casual Friday. This, though, seems to have reached troubling proportions.

Said Bailey: "It is remarkable how many ATTORNEYS [his caps] appear inappropriately on camera. We've seen many lawyers in casual shirts and blouses, with no concern for ill-grooming, in bedrooms with the master bed in the background."

Well, at least it wasn't the bed in the spare room, the one where you haven't changed the sheets for six months. Yet one can understand Bailey's concern. Ill-grooming can suggest a certain lack of seriousness and an excess of licentiousness the night before.

But then there's the naked flouting of decorum: "One male lawyer appeared shirtless and one female attorney appeared still in bed, still under the covers. And putting on a beach cover-up won't cover up you're poolside in a bathing suit."

I can hear you sigh it already: "Ah, Florida." The state whose governor believes essential pandemic services include WWE.

One has to wonder, however, just how some of these lawyers thought they were representing their clients to the best of their abilities.

There are surely certain basics one should observe when lawyering. It's not as if Zoom court appearances are straightforward.

As Bailey explained: "Zoom hearings take more time than in-person hearings due to lag time in audio capacity coming online and people talking over each other which challenges the responsibility to make contemporaneous objections."

The judge insists there are limits to Zoom: "I for one will not conduct a two-week expert-laden hotly contested trial via Zoom; I will reschedule that one for late summer or early fall (if we're lucky)."

It seems, though, that the shirtless lawyer, the disheveled lawyers and the lawyer who can't be bothered to get out of bed don't worry because they're still making their money.

I fear the judge realizes this. For his last line to the Bar Association is: "Please, stay safe and healthy ... and lucrative."