Zoom Culture: As Virtual Meetings Become Increasingly Popular, Attorneys Should be Wary of the Legal Implications That Come with This “New Normal”

February 13, 2022

As the Pandemic pushes into 2022, Zoom and other virtual networks continue to provide the platform for work meetings, conferences, academic classes, happy hour sessions, and more. When the pandemic hit, people throughout the country quickly panicked. The question of “how can we conduct our usual activities without leaving the house?” seemed like a foreign one. Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Skype, and other virtual platforms quickly proved to be the solution. As a result of the sudden Pandemic, we quickly transformed into our new virtual “normal.” As we approach the two-year mark since the Pandemic hit, it is important that we pause, and examine the legal implications associated with virtual meeting places to protect ourselves, and our clients. Attorneys should be wary of the potential consequences arising from “Zoom bombing,” Zoom features, and online communication in general, to ensure the protection of attorney-client privilege.

As we approach the two-year mark since the Pandemic hit, it is important that we pause, and examine the legal implications associated with virtual meeting places to protect ourselves, and our clients.

“Zoom bombing” occurs when uninvited people join a Zoom meeting. Zoom bombing isn’t a security flaw within the app, rather, it occurs from people sharing Zoom links between masses of people. If you search “zoom.us” on Google or social media sites, random public meeting links pop up, and without meeting passwords, anyone can join. American journalist Jessica Lessin, the editor-in-chief of the technology website The Information recounted being Zoom bombed in a Tweet last March. Zoom bombing could destroy attorney-client privilege if the uninvited user overhears communication between the attorney and their client. Other poor security measures within the app could comprise attorney-client privilege as well. 

Attorneys should be wary of using the Zoom recording feature and advise clients of the risks associated with Zoom meetings. If any third party hears communication, regardless of the means through which the information is obtained, privilege is destroyed. Thus, attorneys must be certain that no unauthorized persons are in the meeting; the attorney is certain the recording feature is disabled or within the attorneys’ control; and that the client is not within earshot of any third parties. 

Tips for attorney Zoom users: 

  • Act as the meeting “host” so you can control the Zoom settings 
  • Use a “waiting room” to admit participants into the Zoom room so no one can join the meeting without being noticed 
  • Password protect all meetings 
  • Do not reuse old meeting passwords 
  • Change Zoom settings to “private meeting” 
  • Disable screen sharing and recording features for other participants 

Remind your client to ensure they are alone and that no one else can hear them.

Arianna Pearson

Arianna is a second-year law student from the Outer Banks of North Carolina. She graduated from the University of North Carolina Wilmington in 2018 with a B.S. in Political Science and a minor in pre-law. Arianna plans to pursue a career in corporate law with an interest in intellectual property.