490 V O L . 8 0 P A R T 4 J U L Y 2 0 2 2 THE ADVOCATE
shame and sadness. “Can you hear me, Judge?” he asks, although the
audio was never at issue.
H. Gibbs Bauer, another lawyer on the call, puts his glasses on and leans
forward to better examine the wonder on his screen. He adjusts his tie, as
if subconsciously aware of his supporting role, but keeps a straight face.
As does a stone-faced man in another box, identified as Jerry L. Phillips,
seemingly unfazed by the cat.
Mr. Ponton continues.
“I don’t know how to remove it,” he said. “I’ve got my assistant here and
she’s trying to.”
To get the hearing moving, he offers: “I’m prepared to go forward with it.”
Then, crucially, he clarifies: “I’m here live. I’m not a cat.”
This causes Mr. Phillips to look up and, finally, the exchange draws a
smile and a laugh from him as Judge Ferguson responds: “I can see that.”1
Even those of us who never experimented with Zoom filters have had our
own moments of digital glory in the pandemic era. Some of us were preoccupied
for several (many) months by admiring our own images on screen
(even if requiring us to cast our admiring gaze off-centre) rather than looking
at the camera. Yes, this is perhaps is more embarrassing than admiring a
feline alter ego. Some of us came to find our online image far preferable to
the real one, and have been sadly taken aback by mirrors not equipped with
the wonderful “touch up my appearance” feature that is found on Zoom.
Some of us have sought and failed to achieve production values that
might be found on television. A few of us have learned that tweed and
houndstooth create painful optical effects, confirming why neither cloth is
favoured by television news anchors and weather forecasters. Some of us
have been able to assume anchor-like gravitas when presenting legal education
seminars only through the intercession of online providers who
assume what is actually the case: that practising lawyers can only be trusted
to present in the courts and otherwise require precise instruction. The best
(and welcome) example of provider instructions came for one recent presentation
for which directions included: “count to 5 Mississippis in your head
AFTER we hit Broadcast, before you start talking”. It worked! The “in your
head” part of this is as key as the timing: one of my colleagues and I started
our legal careers thinking a muttering senior partner, who turned out to be
counting aloud (anger management 101), thought the work product we’d
presented was so bad that he had to pray to a higher power.
Most of us have provided the digital world with glimpses of our bedrooms,
exercise equipment and laundry facilities—what a missed opportunity
for savvy manufacturers to have paid lawyers for product placements
ranging from bed linens to Peloton (stick with us, not And Just Like That) to