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April 10, 2020

How Legal Meetings and Proceeding are Occurring Online During COVID-19

Stephen Hoffman lead a team that successfully obtained approval for a land use application from the Town Council of Southwest Ranches on April 9, 2020.  Due to isolation rules in place by the Town and Broward County, the Town of Southwest Ranches conducted the Council Meeting virtually using the Zoom platform.

Question:         How did the virtual meeting work?

Stephen:          It worked excellently!  I had a slight issue logging in (which elevated my heart rate a bit!), but once we got started the hearing worked well.  The Town did an amazing job putting this together.  There was hardly a glitch.

Question:         How many people were on your team?

Stephen:          Jason Wilson of Pillar Engineering, Jeremy Shir of Becker & Poliakoff and our Client.  We all accessed the meeting remotely from different locations.  While the virtual meeting was taking place, our team communicated with each other via texting on our phones.

Question:         How did you make your presentation?

Stephen:          The Town Clerk was able to designate persons as “participants” who were able to appear by video and speak at the meeting.  We were able to upload or share PDF’s of exhibits.  These exhibits could be seen on everybody’s screens.  Using the mouse as a pointer, we were able to easily guide the Council through our presentation.

Question:         Was the public able to participate in the hearing?

Stephen:          Yes, several members of the public spoke at the hearing.  The members of the public were able to watch the hearing as it progressed.

Question:         Were you nervous about the technology?

Stephen:          The Town Clerk was nice enough to conduct a dry run of the system with me last week.  Our team practiced on the platform on Tuesday.  My wife also helped me with a practice session.  Our firm has many technologies available to allow our attorneys and staff to work remotely.  I have a printer and scanner at home and can log into our system through a VPN so I can do anything at home that I can do at the office except meet people.  However, with Skype, Zoom, Microsoft Teams, etc., I can meet face to face with people virtually.  So, I really was not nervous to use the virtual platform and the Town did such a good job setting everything up, that it was easy.

Question:         What was the project you got approved?

Stephen:          We obtained approval of a plat waiver for a residential project saving our Client time and money.

Stephen V. Hoffman is a Partner at Olive Judd, P.A. heading the Firm’s Real Estate Practice Group, and has 35 years of experience in assisting clients with land use and zoning matters, commercial and residential transactions, and drafting condominiums and homeowner association documents.  Stephen can be reached at 954-334-2250.