By now, just about every lawyer has received multiple forwards of the Lawyer Zoom Cat video. For those of you not so lucky, a Texas lawyer accidentally appeared at Zoom court with a filter activated that turned him into a talking cat. He assured the judge that he was, indeed, not a cat and was trying to disable the filter but was able to proceed. The linked article indicates he was using his secretary’s computer, and after changing the filter back, the hearing continued without incident.
It was a funny and all-too-human moment in 2021, and I hope a laugh was the only consequence.
But that does bring up some important reminders—first, if you use Zoom or another videoconferencing platform for work, make sure you are versed in how to change the background, username, and filters. Ideally, make sure before you go live that you are displayed in the way in which you want to appear in court. Usually, that means your display name is your name (perhaps with pronouns and/or party designation depending on local custom); no filters other than those involving focus or lighting; background that won’t create questions you don’t want to answer.
Second, be careful if you share computers or accounts. Sharing a device with your secretary is one thing, as it does not implicate confidentiality in most cases; sharing with your significant other or child is a bad idea, unless they also work for your law firm, as you no doubt have confidential information available on your computer. Kids, in particular, are perilous here—they think they’re funny and won’t hesitate to turn on the cat filter themselves.