The Importance of Virtual Per Diems
We’ve been talking to a lot of our clients recently. We wanted to know how their practices are doing, whether they are still in business, if their work is now virtual or are they back in their offices.
The responses we’ve gotten have run the gamut. We’ve heard:
“We’ve never been busier”
“We love the virtual appearances”
“Juggling the kids and practicing is very challenging”
“Business is really slow”
“We are short staffed”
“All this technology is really difficult”
“We’ve found a new area of practice and we’re doing great”
“We’ve given up our office and gone remote”
Whether business is booming and you love working from home or you’ve found yourself working from home but juggling work, kids, family and computers, virtual legal services companies, like ZR Per Diem Services, can be really helpful.
“During the pandemic, we’ve expanded our services to meet the changing needs of our attorney clients. Many clients have found themselves in need of drafting services, creative organizational help and they still need someone to manage the tasks of a busy attorney, even if the work is mostly virtual,” says Connie Rinaldi, Co-Founder and Managing Director of ZRPD.
“Some of our clients have told us they find virtual court appearances really challenging while others report loving the flexibility and lack of commute to court that virtual appearances offer.”
Wherever your firm falls on that spectrum, building a relationship with legal services company, like ZRPD, can really help attorneys stay on track with the demands brought about by this “new normal.”
Some of the biggest challenges of working from home and handling virtual court appearances and depositions for practitioners has been juggling work and home demands. Especially with children who are virtual learners at home.
“I feel like I’m being pulled in a million directions," says one client. "I have been on virtual court appearances and had my son walk in and ask for help with his computer so he can do his school work. I’ve also experienced the dog barking, the landscapers arriving or one of the kids getting hurt and screaming, while I’ve been talking to a Judge. I mean, everyone has been really understanding of this unique situation we find ourselves in, but it can be difficult to pay full attention to court, while your kids are fighting in the background.”
Another client, who asked to remain anonymous, confided that her husband walked through the background, naked and just out of the shower, without realizing she was on a virtual court appearance. While it was a good laugh for everyone, (except her husband) the matter being discussed was very serious to her client and the distraction may have kept her from having as productive a conference with the court as she might have.
Virtual Appearance Experts
That is where Virtual Appearance Experts and ZR Per Diem Services come in. First, the court rules have been changing daily. Here in the tri-state area, at least, announcements are made regularly about which courts are open, which courts are closed, which courts are taking defaults and which are adjourning everything into 2021.
“I’m just one lawyer," said a colleague. "I can’t possibly keep up with all the changes. From day to day, I don’t know what appearances are actually happening and which are not. I don’t know what to tell my clients about the progress of their cases.”
Because we are partners with companies like eLaw and PM Legal, and because we have been working collaboratively with the New York State Academy of Trial Lawyers, ZRPD has access to the latest updates from all of the courts in the state, and in New Jersey. And because we have over 400 practicing attorneys who provide “of counsel” court appearance coverage to our clients, we get updates on a daily basis on a really granular level. Not only do we hear about what a particular county is doing, but we have access to how individual judges are handling their calendars.
“Different courts are handling things in different ways, '' said Dan Savage, “As a long time ZR client, it's been really helpful to us, as a firm, to have access to the latest information from the individual courts. We may have the staff available now to log into a court appearance, but knowing the specifics of what each judge will require or what the process will be is a different matter.”
Throughout the pandemic shut down, ZR has been working closely with the New York State Academy of Trial Lawyers to obtain, categorize and report on court updates obtained by both through their vast network of resources. Since March, 2020, those resources have been made public through the partnership between ZR and the Academy at the ZRPD website.
Another client shared that while they haven’t lost a lot of business, but what their clients need from them has shifted. “We have clients who now need help with unemployment filings and questions, employment law questions, landlord/tenant issues, foreclosure and bankruptcy proceedings. Having a resource like ZRPD and our new virtual associate services has allowed firms to service those clients by having attorney specialists to help with their document preparation needs.
With everyone working remotely, we run into challenges, like last minute conference notifications, poor connections, conflicts with scheduling and communication when emergencies arise, said Michael Slater.
Making Attorney Lives Easier
Things like the transition from holding preliminary and compliance conferences before the court, to “self” scheduling and creating consent orders to move cases forward have presented new challenges to attorneys.
“I need to move my cases forward, but getting in touch with other parties can be challenging.”
“We all know how hard it is to get attorneys to agree to anything, even just getting on a phone call is hard.”
“ZRPD provided a solution. By offering scheduling services, ZR has stepped into the gap by agreeing to obtain consent orders from all sides, coordinating all the calls and gathering all the signatures for presentation to the court. This has saved me a tremendous headache and time. I’m happy, my clients are happy and my cases are moving forward."
“Forward thinking has always made ZR Per Diem unique," says Cesar Zuniga, Co-Founder and Managing Partner. "We started out doing things the same way everyone else did. In fact, my partner Connie and I were in court everyday, handling the appearances.
But over the years, we have introduced more advanced technology, built relationships and learned a lot about what our clients need. The crisis caused by this pandemic has been no different. We work hard at hearing our client’s problems and finding solutions," says Zuniga. "We work hard to be a resilient company, always growing from what our clients tell us they need. Like always, we make our business decisions based on what client’s need now to make their lives easier.”
"Our prediction," says Rinaldi, "is that as firms become busier with handling new types of matters or having a huge influx of clients dealing with foreclosures, evictions, bankruptcies and other matters, clients will want to have a resource available to them to handle their depositions, EUOs, court appearances and motions, even if they remain virtual."
"Even a virtual appearance can disrupt your day, when it’s scheduled last minute by the court or there are technical glitches," says another client. “We need ZRPD to handle our appearances regardless of where and how they take place.”