Going Back to the Courtroom

As more people receive the COVID-19 vaccine and things begin to slowly go back to normal, more people are trading Zoom for the face-to-face meetings that once upon a time were the norm. Meloney Perry discusses her experience heading back into the courtroom.

What is it like being back?

It’s exciting and reminds you why you became a litigator. You have to regain your bearings a little bit and relearn a few things. I had to get used to admitting exhibits and orders again once I was back in person. And there are other little things that start to come back to you like remembering to stand or sit during an argument. But some hearings are still being held over Zoom, so it’s a phased reentry. We’re all being given time to get used to things.

How is it different from before COVID?

We’re still taking all of the usual COVID precautions. And there aren’t as many people in the courthouse or the courtrooms anymore. You don’t just run into other attorneys the way you used to.

How has it stayed the same?

All of the same courtroom rules are still in place and you’re expected to adhere to them. The mechanics of arguing a case, none of that has changed. We still do our jobs the same way.

What advice would you give to new attorneys who graduated from law school during COVID and are now experiencing in person hearings and meetings for the first time?

Being in person can be very different from working over Zoom. You’re able to interact with the opposing counsel and judges in a more personal way that sometimes just isn’t possible electronically. You make better personal connections, and you never know how those are going to pay off down the road. There are other things, too, like it’s easier to handle exhibits. 

As for any advice I’d give, I would say be more observant, as in-person you can see the whole person you’re going up against, including their body language and expressions. And of course, be sure to dress more formally than you would on Zoom.