Never has the need for reliable and secure internet connectivity in the courtroom been more necessary than today. Whether the trial team requires internet access to query online databases, stream real-time transcripts across town or the country, or stay coordinated with the remote team back in the “war room” or office, being online in the courtroom is no longer a convenience – it is a requirement.
To the relief of most trial lawyers, there are numerous ways to stay connected in court. Whether it is a federal or state courthouse, most judges recognize the necessity of online access for attorneys, and provide a variety of ways to make it happen.
In most federal courthouses, a court order is required to bring internet into the courtroom. The signed order requires access to be provided by an outside vendor. The most often used vendor is Courtroom Connect, a trusted service vendor with whom Impact has an extensive history.
Once approved, the vendor will supply connections to the specified location based on the type of connection (Wi-Fi or LAN) requested. It is important to note that not all courtrooms permit Wi-Fi, most notably the SDNY which has some of the toughest rules in the country. It is imperative to verify what is – and is not allowed – before moving forward.
Many state courthouses provide Wi-Fi internet access in their courtrooms. The vast majority of these networks are open or public networks, where no login credentials are required. However, the nature of free access means that quality may deteriorate as more and more users access the feature. It is critical to test the system to ensure adequate network speed and performance.
If neither Wi-Fi nor LAN is available, a third option is to create a network using a cellular mobile hotspot. Using a mobile network (Verizon, AT&T, etc.) hotspot and a router, a personal network can be created to provide internet access in the courtroom. In most cases, the court must first approve this method. Also, because cellular signal strength will directly impact network speed, this method should be thoroughly tested beforehand.
Internet connectivity in the courtroom has never been more important for a trial team. As options vary widely from courthouse to courthouse, it is critical to research the technology offered by a prospective courtroom in order to stay connected and remain one step ahead of the competition.