Anyone who knows me knows that I love to use technology to increase efficiencies and effectiveness to the divorce process, and that I refuse to allow it to be an inhibitor. Any technology I implement must work smoothly, be easy to use, be hassle-free, and be backed up by our team who can help troubleshoot any challenges that may arise.
How has technology impacted the divorce process?
It’s really quite amazing to consider that when technology is used effectively, you may actually never need to meet with me as your lawyer or mediator in-person to complete your divorce.
From conducting meetings by Zoom either one-on-one with me or in a settlement conference group meeting, to submitting documents electronically, to signing documents remotely, to filing court documents by email, most of the divorce process can occur without the need to be in-person at all.
The technology I use all existed prior to COVID, but what COVID did is to normalize the use of technology for completing the divorce process.
What do your clients think when they learn that most, if not all, of their relationship with you as their professional will be remote-based?
Right from the first time we speak with our clients, we let them know that their initial consultation will be by Zoom. COVID has normalized the use of video-conferencing to such a degree that no one questions it anymore.
In the past year or so, more and more of my clients are coming from outside of our geographic region. I am servicing all corners of Alberta and Saskatchewan. As a result, clients outside of the Lloydminster area are very thankful that they don’t have to come to my office to meet with me; in fact, they seem to expect that our meetings would be virtually-based.
I still appreciate very much having the face-to-face, and as a result most of the meetings I have with my clients are by Zoom. In fact, often it’s more effective to have a Zoom call because I use the screen share function a lot – I bring up documents, and edit on the spot with my clients participating in the edits, and approving final drafts of documents right during the meeting.
When I need to meet with my clients, they seem to appreciate not having the travel time to get to my office and the extra time off work they would otherwise need to take in order to meet with me.
If we are meeting on Zoom, an hour meeting is really just an hour off work. If I’m running late, we text the client and they don’t jump on Zoom until I’m ready to start the meeting. It saves so much time for my clients, and I rarely get complaints.
Because I don’t have a court practice, the only reason that I would really need to meet with my clients in-person would be to sign their final paperwork. Otherwise, we rarely have a need to meet in-person.
How do you adapt your practice for clients who aren’t very tech-savvy?
There’s 3 main pieces of technology that we use, and they’re all very simple.
Let’s first talk about meetings – I mentioned using the Zoom platform.
I have tested out dozens of platforms for video-conferencing, and I have found that Zoom is by far the easiest platform to use.
At our office, we take extra time with our clients to make sure they’re comfortable with Zoom – we send clients the links long ahead of their meeting time, and we encourage clients to practice joining the meeting anytime to be sure they can get on.
Most clients will join using their mobile device, and literally it’s just a click from their email and it will take them straight into Zoom. If they haven’t downloaded Zoom, it will even automatically prompt them to download it.
We have clients of every vintage, and every comfort level with technology, and in over 2 years using the Zoom platform there hasn’t yet been one client who was unable to join.
Second, we use texting as a way to message with clients quickly and easily.
We have the ability through our phone system to text with clients straight from our desktop.
Most clients are on their mobile devices throughout the day, and we are able to leverage this texting feature to communicate quickly and efficiently with clients.
They love that for quick scheduling or administrative items they don’t have to be constantly on their email or stopping to take a call from us.
And third, our we have adapted our document gathering process to fit any level of technology.
We have been able to successfully train our clients to deliver their documentation to us electronically.
Even clients who aren’t proficient at scanning their documents have been able to follow our cheat sheets as to how to scan documents from their mobile device using various apps.
It’s easy and free to get documents to our office electronically – whether it’s by email, by USB stick, or even using our client portal.
Our clients just love our client portal – we can share documents back and forth without worrying about size limitations or email security issues.
Having said all of this, we do adapt to our clients’ comfort level of technology; if they’re willing to learn how to send us documents electronically, then we will teach them how!
Now that it seems that COVID restrictions are being lifted, are things going back to more in-person, or are some of the COVID adjustments here to stay?
Based on the momentum at my office, and the normalization of technology, I can’t imagine that I’ll go back to very much in-person client interaction.
It will definitely be on a case-by-case basis, and if a client is requesting in-person I wouldn’t likely say no, but to be honest most of my clients just don’t ask to meet in-person. They are just loving the convenience and the cost-effectiveness and time-saving that remote service delivery offers to them.
With my practice expanding in its geographical reach, I suspect that clients will expect that my services would be remote.
I am just so grateful for my clients’ willingness to adapt to remote service delivery – it allows me to bring my skill set to farther reaching communities without any additional cost to clients.
Henka Divorce Law & Mediation is a Collaborative Law and Family Mediation firm that helps families thrive as they transition to separation, divorce, or cohabitation. Understanding that every journey is different, we guide families through the right legal or mediation process that fits their unique situation.
Our client service is built on three pillars – focusing on the future, nurturing and supporting children, and working together towards well-being. This includes considering everyone’s needs throughout the process. We work closely with families to provide a meaningful and fair resolution, while keeping costs down by staying out of court.
We serve families in Alberta and Saskatchewan, Canada through their separation or divorce by providing in-person and virtual Collaborative Law or Mediation services.
With extensive knowledge in matrimonial law, our founder Stephanie Dobson uses a caring, results-focused approach to help parents navigate a family separation or divorce while they connect with and support their children. Learn more about her approach and credentials.