Two months ago, Zoom was just a fad among techies: (let’s hold a meeting using Zoom, it’s easy? – no thanks, let’s meet up for coffee). Now it’s everywhere. Even Government ministers meet online now using Zoom, although too late to protect the Prime Minister from infection.
In response to mediation cancellations, many mediators are turning to Zoom Pro as a cheap, easy vehicle which replicates online the physical mediation process – joint sessions, private meetings, circulated documents or presentations, and draft agreements all feature.
But now that Zoom is suddenly everywhere from “COBRA” to online dinners and pub quizzes, from wine tastings to Board meetings, it is under intense scrutiny. How private is it? And how secure? In an excellent blogpost Rick Weller of Weller ADR advises that “we should not make the perfect the enemy of the good”. In other words, compared to Teams, Skype, etc Zoom is the best online solution for mediators and litigants practically available – http://mediationblog.kluwerarbitration.com/2020/04/06/is-zoom-good-enough-for-mediation/
On privacy, although Weller advises against using the Waiting Room, others disagree, and this a very useful tool to screen people who want to join your meeting and manage how/when they join. Setting a password, ensuring parties use the free Zoom app to access the meeting, and LOCKING the meeting once all your invitees have joined, should be enough to ensure your run of the mill commercial, family or workplace dispute is sufficiently private.
On security from hackers, it seems in theory that Zoom may have some work to do on their encryption, but they insist they are working on this urgently. In the meantime, Weller comments that not every mediation requires “Manhattan Project” level security. Although we cannot practice mediation in person, trials are still scheduled, and conflicts are still disrupting relationships. There is still a need to mediate settlements, and Zoom has proven to be a reliable and robust tool. Most mediators I have spoken to intend to go ahead with Zoom as their preferred online mediation.