Byte of Prevention Blog

by Jay Reeves |

Here’s Yet Another Zoom Cautionary Tale

Lots of things can go wrong on a Zoom call, and the most serious mishaps are usually self-inflicted.

A case in point comes from Chicago, where an unmuted attorney uttered profanity and a racist slur while waiting for her client to appear on a Zoom call. The judge and others on the call heard the comments.

The attorney apologized and said she was “shaken,” “humiliated” and had “no words for the inexcusable episode,” according to the Chicago Sun-Times (citing court transcripts).

The judge decided not to find the lawyer in contempt “because the court cannot teach adults not to make ignorant statements, to make racial slurs, whether they are directed at the court or not,” the Chicago Sun-Times reported. “There is no punishment that this court can impose upon you that is going to surpass the embarrassment, the humiliation that your colleagues and other judges have heard you make. Your apology is accepted.”

The attorney was referred to the Illinois Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission for possible discipline, according to the Sun-Times and the ABA Journal.

Read more here and here.

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9 Tips: Zoom Etiquette and Risk Management

“Some of the most common-sense meeting decorum — avoiding eating and drinking, minding your body language, and being respectful to whoever is speaking — are no-brainers,” according to John Montgomery, writing on the Zoom blog.

Here are nine other tips for safe and successful Zooming:

  1. Preview how you will look onscreen – including camera position, background and lighting – before you go live.
  2. Introduce yourself, even if your name is displayed.
  3. Eliminate extraneous noise and distractions (pets, leaf-blowers, screaming toddlers).
  4. Know how to use the mute button, chat feature and screen views.
  5. Remain muted until you want to speak.
  6. “Manage how you start and join meetings — with video on, entering a meeting muted, etc. — in your Zoom Meeting Settings,” writes Montgomery.
  7. Look directly into the camera, not at the person speaking.
  8. Stick around if you’re the host. “Wait until everyone else has left the meeting before hanging up, so attendees can leave at their own pace and get any final words in before disconnecting,” says Montgomery. “A host leaving everyone else in the meeting is much like bailing on your own party.”
  9. Apologize if something goes wrong.



Chicago lawyer apologizes for using racial slur, obscenity during hearing: ‘I’m shaken and I’m humiliated’ - Chicago Sun-Times (

Video Meeting Etiquette: 7 Tips to Ensure a Great Attendee Experience - Zoom Blog


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About the Author

Jay Reeves

Jay Reeves practiced law in North Carolina and South Carolina. He was Legal Editor at Lawyers Weekly and Risk Manager at Lawyers Mutual. He is the author of The Most Powerful Attorney in the World, a collection of short stories from a law life well-lived, which as the seasons pass becomes less about law and liability and more about loss, love, longing, laughter and life's lasting luminescence.

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