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    Wisconsin Lawyer
    September 08, 2020

    President's Message: What I Learned From the Pandemic: How to Videoconference

    While we've hunkered down over the past several months, together, we've become efficient at using videoconference technologies. Even the non-techies.

    Kathleen A. Brost

    Like for most people, the COVID-19 virus has uprooted my daily life. I’ve been extremely fortunate that none of my immediate friends or family have gotten ill. My 91-year-old aunt in a nursing home got infected and was quite ill, but she has since recovered. But like many of you, I no longer go to my downtown-Neenah office to work. Frankly, I haven’t been there much since I returned from a trip to Indonesia in March. I now work remotely from my home office. I don’t see us returning en masse to the office anytime soon.

    Kathy BrostKathy A. Brost, U.W. 1992, is president of the State Bar of Wisconsin. She works at Legacy Private Trust Co., Neenah.

    My husband and I hunkered down during the Safer at Home order – we didn’t see our adult children for months besides a weekly Facetime chat. Easter was a quiet affair this year rather than the large family gathering it had been. No Memorial Day or Fourth of July celebrations either – it’s all been rather low key.

    We had planned to take our family on an Alaskan cruise this summer. We were all really looking forward to it. Now, it’s been rescheduled to next July. Instead, we’ve been spending time at the family cottage in northern Wisconsin. We took a day trip to see the wonderful waterfalls of Marinette County – while social distancing, of course. We had a great time. We plan to return in the fall when the leaves are turning colors. If you haven’t seen the waterfalls, I encourage you to check them out. But they are not the same as seeing the wonders of Alaska that we had planned.

    I’m not a techie, but like many of you, I have spent a good deal of time videoconferencing. Zoom, GoToMeeting, FaceTime: I’ve become acceptably proficient at them all. I’ve had client meetings via videoconferencing in the past, but now it’s different – because now I have all client meetings and all State Bar meetings via videoconferencing. Even my non-techie local clients have learned how to videoconference. The courts quickly learned to use videoconferencing technology, as well.

    And we all learned how to do it together. If we had technical problems, no one panicked because we weren’t providing the perfect client experience with no hiccups; we just tried our best to fix it. Suddenly, there was more tolerance for technical errors. We practiced with coworkers, friends, and family how to set up videoconferencing meetings and happy hours – just to get used to the programs.

    So what did I learn from all of this? I learned that access to high-speed internet, that is broadband, is essential for the entire state. We all can learn to use new technology quickly, if we really need to, and it’s easier and there’s more tolerance for errors when everyone is learning together. I learned that videoconferencing can be a viable, efficient alternative for in-person meetings and that patience, kindness, and tolerance are always appreciated. And we need to dress appropriately even when videoconferencing – pants are always a good thing.

    What have you learned about videoconferencing? Share your best tips in the comments online. And, consider joining the Practice411 elist – it’s a great place to share concerns and solutions.

    Access to high-speed internet, that is broadband, is essential for the entire state.

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