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Soaring Travel Costs Put Lawyers Back on Zoom

3 weeks ago

Rising airfares and travel costs are prompting legal professionals involved in dispute resolutions to return to video conferencing.

That’s according to a National Law Review article, which has highlighted how virtual proceedings are coming back after being used during the pandemic. International arbitration centers and courts became comfortable with the virtual format during lockdowns, with protocols developed and vetted, the article said.

“Virtual hearings save money (and they’re here to stay,)” argues IMS Consulting & Expert Services, in its opinion piece titled “Global Dispute Resolution: The Future of Virtual Legal Proceedings Is Shaped by Soaring Travel Costs.”

“International travel is expensive, and the virtual option means that it is no longer necessary to count travel as a ‘cost of doing business’ when pursuing an international dispute,” it said.

It’s a compelling cost saver for all parties, it argues and the consultancy says it’s run the numbers.

TravelerNumberOrigin CityAirfareTravel TimeHotelFoodGroundTotal
U.S. Lawyer3Chicago$3,079$5,850$2,200$750$400$36,837
Paris Lawyer2Paris$325$1,950$2,200$750$400$11,250
Witness2London$0$0$1,500$350$250$4,200
Trial Consultant1New York$2,325$2,400$2,200$750$400$8,075
Trial Presenter1Los Angeles$3,944$3,300$2,200$750$400$10,594
Graphic Desiger1Dallas$3,079$3,000$2,200$750$400$9,429
Total$80,385

Source: National Law Review

It’s compared costs for in-person attendance, with the example of a business travel cost profile for an international arbitration hearing taking place in London and involving three U.S. attorneys, two Paris attorneys, two local witnesses, and three litigation support personnel.

The average business trip to London is 5.8 days, during which these travelers will require accommodations for 5 nights, food for 6 days, and ground transportation for 6 days.

“The cost of travel time can be as much or more than the cost of flights to attend an international arbitration or other legal hearing,” the articles states. “Spending many hours traveling to and returning from the various steps of an international proceeding is not only an expense for a client, but productivity is also lost for the legal professionals involved.”

How many other industries will be considering similar number-crunching exercises?

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