Virtual Chambers Discussion Feedback

This was a panel discussion on how advocates are adapting to digitisation of their practices, how it affects the younger “green” advocates and what systems, and procedures are being used to adapt. In was hosted by LexisNexis and Virtual Chambers.

Panel:

  • Hosted by Ethan Hugo of LexisNexis
  • Advocate Anthea Platt SC – Advocate Platt SC is the former Deputy Chair of the Legal Practice Council.
  • Advocate Romeo Nthambeleni – An Acting Judge of the North Gauteng High Court of South Africa (Pretoria).
  • Terrance Naidoo – Product Director at LexisNexis South Africa.
  • Advocate Ronelle Ferguson – Chief Executive Officer of Virtual Chambers.

AP – The LPC does not handle any of the training, they appoint and accredit other institutions to perform the training, like LEAD and others.

Training of content systems for new candidates, should be increased substantially.

RN – The adoption of CaseLines has helped the profession a great deal, before Covid, everyone disliked CaseLines and the uptake was slow, but now that there was no “physical” alternative, people have made the new system work.

The profession has to continue this digitisation momentum and keep adopting new systems.

TN – LexisNexis has adopted an innovation culture and has realised that they need to focus on systems that will help the legal industry adapt to the virtual office environment.

AP – Younger advocates gained experience in the past from in-person courts and chambers – but now with virtual courts and chambers, it makes like a little more difficult for those coming into the profession, we must be aware of this and work with technology providers to help them learn in this new environment.

With virtual courts it is difficult to work out if the witness is being coached out of view on the camera.

RN – Files don’t seem to get lost as easily on the “online” system 😉

TN – Google Maps is a great example of AI that is being used by everyone, and most don’t really realise the amount of AI that is at work behind the “map” view. LexisCheck is a system that runs inside of MS Word and updates all citations using AI technology – this is just one example of where LexisNexis is applying AI technology in their systems.

RF – When Covid hit, advocates had one week to relocate their offices to their homes and ensure that they could continue operating from there.

One night when speaking to my Dad, he asked why we still had expensive offices if we never used them. He asked how many other advocates were in the same boat as I was – both of these question from my wise Dad kick start my idea of Virtual Chambers.

The Virtual Chambers must emulate the physical chambers exactly, so that people are comfortable with the system. The system has taken 18 months to get to market.

To be part of Virtual Chambers, users have to be members of the LPC and also in good standing with the LPC. 

There is a “knock knock” area, which emulates the doors down the passage at the physical chambers, it allows you to “pop-in” and have a chat to other members.

There are direct feeds from LPC on notices as well as from the Constitutional Court.

There is a support team that is available for new users to get help.

This Virtual Chambers system is “A Building in the cloud”.

My question to the Q&A for the panel:

Is LexisNexis involved in the development or financially invested in Virtual Chambers?

Reply:

Hi Malcolm
Thank you for your question,
LexisNexis endeavours to partner with organisations that are impacting the shift in technology within the industry. Partnerships can take different forms and this one is an example of one of these.
Thanks
Nelly Mncube

My Conclusion:
The concept is good, I do like the way they have tried to create the same “safe” place in the cloud, to get people to use the system – let us wait and see how well the fraternity embraces this familiar, but different zone.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

sixteen − twelve =