Zoom Video Conferencing Guide For Lawyers

Zoom on an iPhone and Coronavirus news on a Macbook by Allie Smith creativegangsters

New Zealand is in lockdown, and everyone, including lawyers, are trying new ways of working. For most of us this involves Zoom. Here’s what to consider when Zoom as a lawyer.

Some of the links in this post are affiliate links, but I use Zoom and other software mentioned regularly and would recommend them regardless.

Other posts in this series:

In this post:

Sign up for Zoom

You need a Zoom account to host meetings, but not to participate in them.

Click here to sign up. If you want to try things out, you can sign up for free, or you can dive straight into the Pro plan for USD $14.99/month (or USD$149.90/year if you pay annually).

Use the coupon code ZOOMCARES for 20% off a Pro plan billed annually.

Reasons to get a Pro account:

  • No time limit on group meetings. Group meetings are meetings with more than 2 people. On a basic account the meeting will automatically end after 40 minutes – not a good client experience, although participants can immediately rejoin using the same link.
  • Due to increased demand because of COVID-19, the dial-in by phone function may be turned off intermittently for Basic accounts.
  • Polling, cloud recording, co-hosting, and other features are included.

How many accounts do you need?

If you’re a small organisation, you can start out with one Pro account. Think of each Pro account like a meeting boardroom in a physical office. You need one Pro (or higher) account per group meeting over 40 minutes that you want to hold at the same time. So if you’d like to be able to run two group meetings longer than 40 minutes at the same time you need two Pro accounts.

Group meetings longer than 40 minutes need to be scheduled on a Pro account – you either need to share the password for the Pro account with your team (see the LastPass section in this post), assign a person to schedule meetings on the Pro account, or upgrade a person’s Basic account to a Pro account.

You might hold more group meetings than you think – a client meeting with a support person joining from a different location, or a client meeting with a remote translator joining will both be group meetings.

You can invite the rest of your team to create an account under the Pro account. With free Basic accounts each team member can host unlimited one-on-one meetings.

Using Zoom as lawyer for child, for mediations or for round-table meetings

There are some particular settings to consider if you’re going to use Zoom to host mediations, or round-table meetings. They’re marked below with the # symbol.

If you’re the lawyer for child or mediator you should run the Zoom meeting as host from a Zoom account you control.

Consider whether running a pre-meeting briefing by Zoom for groups of parties/lawyers would make them more comfortable with the software and allow you to identify if there are issues that would stop people from participating effectively.

You may want to set some ground rules in advance, consider things like:

  • Will everyone share their video?
  • Will everyone be in a room by themselves unless there is agreement from everyone else?
  • Use the hand up function to indicate that you would like to speak.
  • Stay muted unless you are talking, and don’t talk while someone else is talking.
  • Parties won’t send private messages to each other.

Hayden Wilson from Dentons Kensington Swan suggests that:

  • You get agreement:
    • That participants will limit distractions.
    • That there will be no recording of the chat/screen/audio (unless to record an agreement and with the consent of all parties).
    • On taking/not taking notes.
    • On when an agreement is reached (signed document?) and how any agreement reached will be recorded, which could be using electronic tools.
    • That participants won’t share the meeting login details (e.g. meeting ID/password).
  • You have contact details for everyone in the meeting and they have a way to contact you in case of problems.
  • You consider how to deal with a ‘walk out’ which is much easier for someone to do virtually.
  • Each set of parties/lawyers has a non-Zoom communication method available.

Setting up your Zoom account

You’ll need to sign up for Zoom (see above) if you’re creating the first account in your organisation. Otherwise you may have received an invitation to join Zoom, or to convert your existing Zoom account to an organisation account.

You can also change some settings across all of the accounts that are under a Pro account through ‘Admin’ options.

1. Profile -> Profile photo

You might want to upload a photo of yourself. This will show up instead of your camera feed if you have your video turned off on a Zoom call.

Once you’re logged in, on the Zoom profile page, click change under the profile photo icon.

Zoom profile screen with the change link selected.

2. Profile -> Date format

Zoom defaults to the United States date format of mm/dd/yyyy – you can change this to dd/mm/yyyy on the profile page.

3. Profile -> If you’re sharing a Pro account, share the Host Key too

If you’re sharing a Pro account (see ‘How many accounts do you need?’ above) you should share the Host Key of the Pro account with your team too. This allows someone not logged in as the Pro account to ‘Claim Host’ rights (the ‘Claim Host’ button is at the bottom of the participants window).

The Host Key is on the profile page:

Zoom screenshot of profile page with show beside Host Key highlighted.

4. Settings -> Meeting -> Audio Type

Zoom allows people to connect by computer/device audio (e.g. their webcam/phone camera and inbuilt speaker/microphone or headset) or by calling a phone number.

You can change this setting per meeting when scheduling a meeting.

Zoom has Auckland and Wellington numbers in New Zealand. If you pay extra participants can also access a toll-free number.

# Leaving this as the default’ Telephone and Computer Audio’ setting provides the most flexibility, however note unless you turn on the ‘phone number masking’ setting discussed below, everyone on the call (including opposing parties in lawyer for child matters) will be able to see the phone numbers of anyone who phones in.

Screenshot of Zoom meeting settings page, audio type with telephone and computer audio selected.

5. Settings -> Meeting -> Enable join before host

Enable this especially if you’re sharing a Pro account to book group meetings, and the team member running the meeting isn’t necessarily going to be logged into the Pro account.

This would also let other participants join and start the meeting without you if you are running late.

If this option is not enabled, participants see a “Please wait for the host to start the meeting” screen if they join the meeting before the host.

You can change this setting per meeting when scheduling a meeting.

6. Settings -> Meeting -> A warning about Personal Meeting IDs

Some people use Personal Meeting IDs (a meeting ID that does not change) for internal meetings between members of their team etc. I would recommend avoiding the use of Personal Meeting IDs and leaving the Personal Meeting ID settings below off. This is because anyone who knows your Personal Meeting ID can join meetings you host using it (i.e. crash another meeting), even if they’re not invited to that particular meeting.

Screenshot of Zoom meeting settings page - personal meeting ID

7. Settings -> Meeting -> Password settings

Keep these settings enabled. Depending on your account they may be locked on. They mitigate an issue that has been recently been in the news about people crashing Zoom calls by guessing or otherwise acquiring meeting IDs.

Screenshot of Zoom meeting settings page - password settings.

8. Settings -> Meeting -> Mute participants on entry

It is best practice to enable this setting which especially avoids disruption if someone joins a meeting late, however keep in mind that this also means everyone needs to work out how to unmute themselves (or be unmuted by the host) in order to speak. The larger the meetings you hold, the more useful this setting becomes.

You can change this setting per meeting when scheduling a meeting.

Screenshot of Zoom meeting settings - mute participants upon entry.

9. Settings -> Meeting -> Require Encryption for 3rd Party Endpoints

This setting will block people from joining Zoom meetings using H323/SIP systems (corporate meeting room systems e.g. the Polycom or LifeSize TV screens in meeting rooms) unless encryption is enabled on their device.

You should enable this setting.

Meeting participants will see a “Please enable encryption option on your room system” message if they need to enable encryption.

This setting doesn’t affect encryption on Zoom software downloaded onto computers, phones etc where encryption can’t be turned off.

Screenshot of Zoom meeting settings - require encryption for 3rd party endpoints.

10. Settings -> Meeting -> Chat #

Chat is a useful feature and chat messages that are visible to everyone are unlikely to be problematic e.g. in round-table meeting situations. However you may wish to consider preventing participants from saving the chat to reinforce, for example, the without prejudice nature of a meeting.

Note that this setting will not disable the ability for participants to screenshot or otherwise record the chat.

Warning on saving the chat: The saved chat log will include private messages the person saving the chat has sent and received, so check these logs carefully before sharing.

Screenshot of Zoom meeting settings - Chat.

11. Settings -> Meeting -> Private chat #

This setting is useful so that parties and their lawyers can communicate privately without leaving Zoom, however a meeting host may wish to share their expectations around the use of private chat, for example that the parties or lawyers will not send private messages directly to each other.

Note the ethical obligation for lawyers to not communicate directly with a represented party.

Screenshot of Zoom meeting settings - Private chat.

12. Settings -> Meeting -> Play sound when participants join or leave

It is useful to enable this setting so that it is obvious that someone has joined the meeting.

With ‘Record and play their own voice’ enabled participants joining by telephone will be asked to record their name to identify themselves.

Screenshot of Zoom meeting settings - Play sound when participants join or leave

13. Settings -> Meeting -> File transfer

Although this setting could be useful, you should disable it as it bypasses the anti-virus/anti-malware protection your email provider will be providing you.

Share documents via email, or if you need to collaborate directly, using a shared document on G Suite or a similar service.

14. Settings -> Meeting -> Allow host to put attendee on hold

A useful setting to enable to temporarily remove one or more participants from the call.

Screenshot of Zoom meeting settings - Allow host to put attendee on hold.

15. Settings -> Meeting – > Screen sharing

Screen sharing is another Zoom setting that has been in the news recently due to “Zoom bombing” or people joining Zoom calls and screen sharing explicit material.

Leaving this enabled is lower risk if all your meetings are protected with passwords, as recommended above. You can reduce your risk even further by only allowing hosts to screen share.

Warning about screen sharing: Close unrelated documents and applications and clear your desktop before sharing your screen. Share specific applications using the Share Screen function rather than your entire desktop to limit the chance of inadvertently sharing confidential information.

You can use the ‘Pause Sharing’ button to freeze the shared screen that participants can see so you can do something in private.

Screenshot of Zoom meeting settings - Screen sharing.

16. Settings -> Meeting -> Annotation and Whiteboard

These are useful settings to keep enabled. Consider enabling the ‘auto save’ feature so whiteboard content is not lost when the whiteboard is closed.

Screenshot of Zoom meeting settings - Annotation and Whiteboard.

17. Settings -> Meeting -> Remote control

Useful to leave enabled so that you can also use Zoom screen sharing as a tech support tool.

Screenshot of Zoom meeting settings - Remote control.

18. Settings -> Meeting -> Non-verbal feedback

‘Raise hand’ is available whether this setting is on or off.

Non-verbal feedback includes thumbs up, go faster, go slower, request for a break etc.

# Note this setting also allows participants to provide other less constructive non-verbal feedback like a thumbs down.

Screenshot of Zoom meeting settings - Nonverbal feedback.

19. Settings -> Meeting -> Breakout room #

Enable this so you can set up private discussion rooms which you can send participants to during the meeting, e.g. a room for each of the parties and their respective lawyer(s).

A host can join a breakout room in progress and from the breakout room a participant can still message the host or use a button to get the host’s attention.

You can, but don’t need to, assign breakout rooms when scheduling a meeting.

Screenshot of Zoom meeting settings - Breakout room.

20. Settings -> Meeting -> Identify guest participants

Enable this so that team members who are logged into a Zoom account connected to yours are identifiable in the meeting participants list.

Screenshot of Zoom meeting settings - Identify guest participants in the meeting/webinar.

21. Settings -> Meeting -> Use HTML format email for Outlook plugin

This setting makes Zoom invitations sent using the Outlook plugin look slightly nicer.

You can download the plugin here: Microsoft Outlook plugin. If you’re sharing a Pro account: log in to the plugin with your account and schedule meetings on the Pro account through the web interface.

Screenshot of Zoom meeting settings - Use HTML format email for Outlook plugin.

22. Settings -> Meeting -> Waiting room #

A very good idea to enable this (or disable join before host) for meetings where opposing parties are attending so they are not left alone together.

Allows the host to control who can join the meeting and when they can join.

Requires you to be logged into the host account the meeting is scheduled on.

Can’t be used with the ‘join before host’ setting enabled – you need to choose one or the other.

A message will be shown to those in the waiting room along the lines of “Thank you for joining, the meeting host will let you in soon”. You can customise this message if you have a Pro or higher account.

Those in the waiting room do not see/hear each other (if there’s more than one person in the waiting room) or any of your meeting content.

You can change this setting per meeting when scheduling.

Screenshot of Zoom meeting settings - Waiting room.

23. Settings -> Meeting -> Join from your browser link

This enables participants to join a Zoom meeting without having to download anything on their computer. It is useful for locked-down corporate devices, however the functionality is limited.

Screenshot of Zoom meeting settings - Show a 'Join from your browser' link

24. Settings -> Meeting -> Blur snapshot

Enable this so sensitive information isn’t inadvertently screen shared from an iPhone.

Screenshot of Zoom meeting settings - Blur snapshot on iOS task switcher

25. Settings -> Recording -> Local recording

Useful to keep enabled to be able to record verbal agreements that are going to be written up later. A Pro account gives you access to a ‘Cloud recording’ setting below this.

A warning about recordings: note rule 10.8 of the Conduct and Client Care Rules that “a lawyer must not, in the course of his or her professional activity, make a video or sound recording of any person without first informing the person of the lawyer’s intention to do so.”

Screenshot of Zoom recording settings - Local recording

26. Settings -> Recording -> Automatic recording

Leave this off.

Screenshot of Zoom recording settings - Automatic recording.

27. Settings -> Recording -> Recording disclaimer

Enabling these settings may enable you to more easily meet your professional obligations regarding recordings, and ensure active consent from participants, even if you accidentally press the record button or have accidentally given a participant recording ability.

Screenshot of Zoom recording settings - Recording disclaimer.

28. Settings -> Recording -> Multiple audio notifications of recorded meeting

Enable this – this setting makes it clear to participants who have phoned in each time recording starts or stops.

Screenshot of Zoom recording settings - Multiple audio notifications of recorded meeting

29. Settings -> Telephony -> Mask phone number #

Consider whether to enable this option. A New Zealand mobile number will turn into, for example 6422****123. The number is also masked for the host, which may make it more difficult to identify participants telephoning in to the meeting.

Warning about the privacy implications of leaving this setting disabled: If this setting is not enabled anyone in the meeting can see the phone number of anyone telephoning into the meeting.

Screenshot of Zoom telephony settings - Mask phone number in the participant list.

30. Settings -> Telephony -> Global Dial-in Countries/Regions

Dial-in is generally available on all accounts but Zoom is limiting the availability of this feature on Basic accounts during increased demand due to COVID-19.

Your meetings and invitations will default to including Zoom’s United States telephone numbers. Zoom offers an Auckland and Wellington landline number, and if you pay extra, a toll-free number, for participants to be able to phone in to meetings.

Change the default phone numbers that are listed in your invitations by editing the Global Dial-in Countries/Regions.

1) Click on the pencil icon beside the list of countries – this is probably set to ‘United States’ by default.

Screenshot of Zoom telephony settings - Global Dial-in Countries/Regions.
Screenshot ©2019 Zoom Video Communications, Inc.

2) Search for New Zealand in the list on the left-hand side and tick the box beside it. Click on the Delete button beside other countries in the list on the right-hand side.

3) Click Save.

Screenshot of Zoom telephony settings - Global Dial-in Countries/Regions.
Screenshot ©2019 Zoom Video Communications, Inc.

Scheduling a meeting

You can schedule a meeting a number of ways including through the Zoom web interface, Zoom program/app, and Zoom Outlook plugin.

If you’re sharing a Pro account I suggest scheduling group meetings on the web interface either in an incognito/private browsing window or different browser. This is so you aren’t using the Pro account’s capacity for one-on-one meetings which could be scheduled on a non-paid Basic account.

On the web go to My Account -> Meetings -> Schedule a New Meeting.

Screenshot of Zoom schedule a meeting.

The important things to change:

  • Topic: This will also be the title of the calendar event for your meeting.
  • When: The start date/time.
  • Duration: Your meeting will not end when this duration is reached, however try to be accurate for your guests, and especially if you are sharing a Pro account so there are no scheduling conflicts.
Screenshot of Zoom schedule a meeting.

Other settings:

  • Meeting ID: Leave this set to ‘generate automatically’.
  • Meeting password: Even if you have the option to turn this off I recommend leaving it on.
  • Video: I recommend leaving these off so the host and participants can choose when to start showing their video.
  • Audio: Leave this set to ‘Both’
  • Meeting Options: Consider whether for this meeting to enable/disable the following settings (see explanations above):
    • Enable join before host
    • Mute participants upon entry
    • Enable waiting room

Click Save and you’ll be taken to the manage meeting page.

Sharing a meeting/inviting others

From the manage meeting page either:

1) Click on one of the calendar buttons and invite people to your calendar event, or

Screenshot of Zoom manage meeting - Calendar sharing buttons

2) Click on the ‘Copy the invitation’ link beside the Join URL, then the ‘Copy Meeting Invitation’ button and paste the text into an email (or anywhere else).

Screenshot of Zoom manage meeting - Copy the invitation link
Screenshot of Zoom manage meeting - Copy Meeting Invitation button

In meeting controls

The screenshots below are for the computer Zoom software. The mobile app software will look slightly different.

When you join a meeting, you first need to click on the ‘Join With Computer Audio’ button. You can also test your speaker and microphone.

If it is available there will also be an option on this screen to phone into the meeting to hear others and to speak rather than using computer/device audio.

Screenshot of a Zoom meeting - Join audio dialog.

Hosts and guests both see a black bar at the bottom of the screen (wiggle your mouse if it is not displaying). The bar in the screenshot below may look slightly different for you, and will look different for participants who are not hosts of the meeting.

Screenshot of a Zoom meeting.

The key buttons are:

  • Unmute/mute
    • The up arrow beside the Unmute/Mute button is to change which audio device you are using, or test your audio.
  • The Start/Stop Video button
    • The arrow beside the Start/Stop Video button is to change which camera device you are using.
  • Manage Participants/Participants
  • Share – this button is to screen share/open a whiteboard

Some buttons won’t display unless you have those settings enabled in the Zoom web interface.

Participants window

You have options in the participants window as a host to Unmute or Mute a specific participant (hover over their name first), to Mute All participants, and to Unmute All participants. There are additional options to manage a participant if you hover over their name then click ‘More’.

Screenshot of a Zoom meeting - Participants window - Participant options

There are other options to manage the meeting available by clicking the ‘More’ button at the bottom of the Participants window:

Screenshot of a Zoom meeting - Participants window - More options

Note that the Participants window is also where one of the ‘Raise/Lower Hand’ buttons (and ‘Claim Host’ button) is for non-hosts:

Screenshot of a Zoom meeting - Participants window - Raise hand button


Note that private chats between participants are not visible to anyone else, including the host. However, private chats that a person has sent/received will be saved along with the public chat if that person uses the save chat function.

There are also options to control the chat in the chat window – open Chat then click on the three dots:

Screenshot of a Zoom meeting - Chat window - Chat options.

Zoom tips

  • For the best audio experience use a headset if you have one available.
  • Test your audio/video in advance (you could use your Personal Meeting ID for this).
  • Consider your background.
  • Consider lighting.
  • Check your video (your hair, your background) before starting it by clicking on the up arrow beside ‘Start Video’, then ‘Video Settings’.
  • Mute your microphone when you are not talking.
  • Have a test meeting with your team before hosting your first meeting.
  • Have your webcam at eye level and look at it when speaking – it will make people feel like you are making eye contact with them.
  • If you are lagging/having connection difficulties (you might get a message about your internet connection being unstable) turn your video off and quit other applications you have open.
  • Double-check who you are sending a chat message to before pressing send/enter.

Further training on Zoom


Zoom offers free training webinars on Zoom – you can sign up for a live one, or watch a recording. See the list here.

There is a 30 minute ‘Getting Started with Zoom Meetings’ training and a 60 minute ‘Zoom Meetings’ training. You can ask questions at the end of the live versions.

Help Center

You can search the Zoom Help Center for answers to your questions.

One minute videos

Zoom has a number of one minute training videos which you or your participants may find useful.

Best practice guides

See the best practice guides linked to at the bottom of this page.

Header photo by Allie Smith on Unsplash

Girls, Not Brides

Girls Not Brides - end child marriage now graphic

My submission on the Marriage (Court Consent to Marriage of Minors) Amendment Bill:

Thank you for the opportunity to submit on this Bill.

I agree that this Bill is a good first step, however it does not go far enough and should be amended to ban all forms of child marriage and civil unions. The legal minimum age of marriage and civil union should be 18 with no exceptions. This includes no exceptions due to judicial or parental consent.

I study a Bachelor of Arts (Psychology) and a Bachelor of Laws.

As a young person, I think it is important that the voice of youth is taken into account during the Select Committee process at all times, but especially when issues relating to young people are being debated and discussed.

We set legal ages for many activities. When someone is 16 they can’t vote, they can’t get their full driver licence, they can’t buy alcohol or cigarettes, they can’t apply for a credit card, they can’t buy Instant Kiwi scratchies, and they can’t gamble in a casino. We set these limits because we are conscious of the development stages of children.

A non-government organisation’s name states this bluntly. These are Girls, Not Brides. Their ‘Role of Parliamentarians’ report is attached.

Sustainable Development Goals

New Zealand has agreed to the Sustainable Development Goals. To achieve target 5.3 this Bill must be amended to ban all marriage for children under 18, with no exceptions.

The Sustainable Development Goals are the successor of the Millennium Development Goals and are intended to determine national and international development priorities up to 2030. There are 17 goals and 169 targets and one of them relates to child marriage.

All United Nations member states pledged their support toward achieving target 5.3, which is to end child marriage. Ending child marriage will contribute to achieving eight of the Sustainable Development Goals.

To be clear: New Zealand will not end child marriage by 2030 unless the practice is completely prohibited – this means there can be no loopholes such as obtaining judicial approval.

This Bill is the perfect opportunity to implement target 5.3 through an amendment that will prohibit child marriage entirely.

The Rights of the Child

The Committee for the Convention on the Rights of the Child recommends that the minimum age of marriage be 18 years.

Child marriage affects the rights of children, especially girls’ right to health, education, equality, and the right to live free from violence and exploitation.

Child marriage increases health risks.

For girls it encourages the start of sexual activity when they are still developing and when they might not know as much about their rights and sexual and reproductive health. Girls in a child marriage are forced to negotiate safe, consensual sex with usually much older husbands.

They are under social pressure to prove their fertility and so are more likely to experience early, unplanned and frequent pregnancies with an increased risk of pregnancy-related issues.

Girls married before 18 are more likely to experience domestic violence than unmarried peers and to report that their first sexual experience was forced. Child brides more likely to believe that a man is sometimes justified in beating his wife compared to women who marry later.

A rubber-stamping process

My preference is for this Bill to be strengthened so that no marriages of children under 18 occur.

However, if the judicial consent avenue is taken the process needs to be strengthened.

  • From watching the speeches at the first reading of this Bill, it seems clear that the intention of the Bill is to reduce the number of these marriages, however the Bill provides no criteria for Family Court judges considering an application from a 16-17-year-old to take into account.
  • The Bill does not empower judges to seek funded expert reports, such as psychologist or cultural reports, or to order funded counselling. A lawyer for child should be appointed and reports such as cultural, medical, psychiatric, and psychological reports should be able to be requested by a Family Court judge. Family Court Act 1980 section 16D would need to be amended too.
  • There is no need for the Bill to include provisions around public/media presence and other matters that are covered by other Family Court legislation. Sufficient controls on the media and public are contained in the Family Court Act – a person under the age of 18 or a vulnerable person cannot be identified in a report and the public are not able to attend hearings without consent of the Family Court judge.
  • The Committee should consider amending Family Court Act 1980 section 12A rather than including an evidence subsection in the Marriage Act.
  • This Bill should be compared to the law in Australia. If the judicial approval approach is taken the legislation should be reworked to be much more similar to sections 11 to 21 Marriage Act 1961 (Australia). For example: that authorisation should only be granted in exceptional circumstances, parental authorisation should be required as well, expiry of consent etc. The Australian law makes it clear that the intention is to reduce child marriages: “the circumstances of the case [shall be] so exceptional and unusual as to justify the making of the order”. However, please note that even this does not meet the Sustainable Development Goal requirements.

UNICEF recommendations

The Committee should consider UNICEF’s recommendations (PDF), such as:

  • child marriages should be voidable by either party with applications being able to be made within two years from the date the person reaches the age of majority (with considerations made regarding immigration status, division of property, and care of children);
  • in relation to penalties; and
  • child marriages taken place to date should be analysed.

Civil unions

The Civil Union Act 2004 should also be amended to make the minimum age for civil unions 18.

Image credit: Girls Not Brides

Excessive burden? USA not contributing to NZ’s $5.8m Dotcom case costs

Kim Dotcom outside New Zealand's Parliament

Crown Law has provided figures under the Official Information Act on the money and time spent in relation to legal work completed in respect of Kim Dotcom and his associates which amounts to more than $5.8 million.

Crown Law writes that the United States Department of Justice is not reimbursing New Zealand for any of these expenses, even though the cases largely relate to charges that they wish to bring against Mr Dotcom and his associates.

Crown Law hours spent

The figures:

  • are as at 8 February 2017;
  • include work on both domestic and mutual assistance (United States initiated extradition) legal proceedings;
  • exclude work completed to provide advice to other Government Departments, for example the Police or the GCSB who respectively picked up the bill for Crown Law’s advice to them; and
  • include most Crown Law legal staff time and some support staff time.

2011: 432.10
2012: 7,356.67
2013: 4,087.50
2014: 5,742.27
2015: 4,911.80
2016: 3,207.26
2017: 4.77
Total: 25,742.37

25,000 hours.

Using a conservative estimate of the value of the time spent ($140 per hour,1 which is the rate a Crown Law junior prosecutor would be billed out as – senior solicitors’ time is likely worth more, support staffs’ likely less), this comes to around NZD $3.6 million.


New Zealand has also covered the bill for work completed by external counsel on Crown Law’s behalf and expenses paid by Crown Law in relation to the Dotcom/Megaupload matters – another NZD $2.2 million.

This includes: $1.98 million on external barrister/solicitor fees, $171,800 on travel and accommodation, $23,151 on Court filing fees, $20,125 on photocopying, and $17,356 on professional fees including research material.

An excessive burden?

At least NZD $5.8 million has been spent on Kim Dotcom et al. by New Zealand so far, and it begs the question: was it worth it?

Should we have refused the United States’ mutual assistance request when it was made? Section 27(g)(i) of the Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters Act 1992 allows New Zealand to refuse a request made by a foreign country if “in the opinion of the Attorney-General, the provision of assistance would impose an excessive burden on the resources of New Zealand”.

Kim Dotcom had hundreds of millions of dollars worth of assets before the raid on his home and it’s not a shock that he has aggressively defended the cases brought against him.

If spending $5.8 million+ has not been an excessive burden on New Zealand, what amount would be?

1 This is a lower rate to that used by David Fisher in his September 2015 article of $198/hour.

Image credit: Sarah-Rose

The full response from Crown Law, including the breakdown of expenses incurred is embedded below.

Peter Thiel’s New Zealand Citizenship File

Peter Thiel

At around 5:15pm today the Department of Internal Affairs released some of the information they hold on Peter Thiel’s application for New Zealand citizenship, emailed on mass to those who had made requests under the Official Information Act.

Peter Thiel has never lived in New Zealand and doesn’t plan to live in New Zealand. He’s a controversial figure. We looked past that because of a few New Zealand business investments, public speaking engagements, and a donation to the Canterbury earthquake relief fund.

Neil Strauss wrote a book in 2009 called Emergency about disaster preparedness. In one part he investigates the trend of the super rich applying for secondary citizenship in another country. They wanted to be prepared when “the shit hits the fan” by having a Plan B country to retreat to if there was some sort of disaster. Strauss said New Zealand would be a great country to have citizenship in but that our requirements are so strict. He settled for Saint Kitts and Nevis.

When you’re Peter Thiel and are worth US$2.7 billion, I guess you don’t need to settle.

Thiel has his Plan B, New Zealand, but don’t expect to see him around unless the world is falling apart.

Highlights and the full documents are embedded below:

DIA’s PDF document released 1 February 2017

Image credit: Heisenberg Media CC-BY-2.0

What happens when a salaried YouTuber goes solo: the Daily Grace story

Grace Helbig

You might have heard of Daily Grace, or Grace Helbig. She’s a 28-year-old actress-comedian who uploads videos on YouTube Monday to Friday. DailyGrace has 2 million+ subscribers and 227 million video views, and Forbes listed Grace on their 30 Under 30 Hollywood & Entertainment list for 2014 along with Rebel Wilson, Jennifer Lawrence, Kelly Osbourne and Anna Kendrick saying “Helbig is one of the sharpest, funniest voices on YouTube”.

Daily Grace died on December 31 2013.

Not the person, it’s just DailyGrace isn’t Grace’s channel anymore and since the start of 2014 no new content has been uploaded. The videos being uploaded Monday to Friday on that channel are reruns (first reruns on YouTube?) and presumably Grace isn’t receiving any of the ad revenue from them. Until recently, Grace had a contract with a company called My Damn Channel, who are going through an identity crisis and rebranding as Omnivision Entertainment. She made videos on the YouTube channel DailyGrace and they paid her a salary and maybe a commission based on YouTube views.

“Grace leaving Daily Grace is kinda like a Pokemon evolving. You’re sad because you liked how cute it looked before, but you’re also excited because it can shoot lasers out of its eyes now.” –killmeeko

After five years, Grace and My Damn Channel have chosen to part ways which, as VideoInk says, is probably the hardest decision Grace has made in her career. My Damn Channel owns the content and intellectual property Grace created while in their employment, including the YouTube channel DailyGrace, 2 million+ subscribers, themed days (Sexy Friday etc.), catch phrases (you’ve been hazed, new viewser alert…), and Facebook page–her Tumblr and Twitter are still hers, presumably because they aren’t under the Daily Grace brand.

How do you deal with suddenly not being able to use any of the intellectual property you came up with? Compare a 2013 ‘commenting on your comments’ video with a 2014 one:

“Here’s the lesson: Many corporations think that by owning YouTube channels, they’ll have something valuable. But the value is not in the channel or in the number of subscribers. On YouTube, despite the corporatization of everything, the value is in people.” –Tim Helbig

The brand that My Damn Channel is asserting ownership over is effectively a person. People subscribed to DailyGrace for Grace, and have been steadily unsubscribing because of the new content drought and My Damn Channel/Grace drama. Grace is continuing to upload videos daily on her used-to-be-second-but-is-now-main channel ItsGrace, something she wasn’t allowed to talk about while she was still in charge of the DailyGrace accounts. Viewers were left with a cryptic goodbye on December 27 where Grace said she would be back making videos from January 6 after a break. She couldn’t say that these new videos wouldn’t be on the DailyGrace channel.

Is it fair enough that My Damn Channel is enforcing their rights under a mutually agreed contract which Grace would have either received legal advice over or had the opportunity to seek legal advice over? Probably. An arrangement that guaranteed an income for making YouTube videos would have looked pretty great five years ago, but as time goes on you’d start to realise that perhaps you could be earning more without the middleman taking a cut… and for doing what exactly? My Damn Channel is a business and they’ll want to get all the ad revenue they can from the old DailyGrace videos which they’re rerunning on YouTube. Grace is going independent, at least for the time being, and will have full ownership over the content she creates from now on. And at least 1.7 million subscribers have found their way to ItsGrace.

The sad thing is that some fans might never find Grace’s new channel (My Damn Channel hasn’t changed the about page for DailyGrace from “I vlog everyday! Five days a week!”, except for the removal of her social media links and stripping the themed days from the header image), Grace was faced with rebuilding her subscriber base from the 100,000 she had on her second channel, and that the day has come where My Damn Channel is exercising the control they have over a whole vault of content Grace made in an intimate setting–inside her home–by reuploading it in an attempt to keep up the appearance that Daily Grace is still alive.

But Grace still has herself, and maybe that’s all the matters.

“DailyGrace is Grace Helbig, which is me. DailyGrace [the channel] was a concept owned by My Damn Channel, but Grace Helbig is my personality, owned by myself…so that’s what I’m moving forward with and that’s what, to me, is priceless.” –Grace Helbig

Image credit: Grace Helbig

When an internet forum solves a crime before the police


“Seriously lacking hotel. Staff seems overwhelmed. Rooms are marginal at best. And then there’s the dead body in the water tower.” – Christopher Karwowski, Google Review

Elisa Lam went missing at the end of January 2013 and around February 19 was found in one of her hotel building’s water tanks, used by guests and residents for drinking and bathing. The hotel has a little history, like of serial killers staying there. To add to the weirdness her death was ruled an accident and the footage police released in an attempt to find her after she went missing was, well bizarre:

The police had searched the roof with dogs and either missed her body or it wasn’t there yet. A thread on Web Sleuth’s about the case makes eerie reading (look at the timestamps).

“Do you suppose LE physically checked every room (nook & cranny) in the hotel/hostel…??? or would they require a search warrant to do that…???”

tarabull at 02-09-2013, 03:56PM

“Ok, is there anywhere she may have gone into the water, or fallen off something?”

Wolf Dreamer at 02-14-2013, 04:29PM

“in my opinion i think it is very probable she got herself
stuck somewhere while hiding,
i really hope they have searched every mouse hole in that ***** hole”

Catchy kitty at 02-15-2013, 01:08AM

“Gotta ask the dumb question.

Do you think the police searched every room in the building?

Maybe she hasn’t left the building”

jetsetsam at 02-15-2013, 01:19 AM

“I have a hard time believing every nook and cranny has been searched – I feel like there’s a good chance she’s still in the building.”

tarabull at 02-16-2013, 12:01 PM

“There are other places in the hotel they could search without having to get a warrant, though… dumpsters, kitchen area, storage areas, the basement, to name a few. I’m sure the hotel managers would gladly allow it without a warrant.”

TxLady2 at 02-16-2013, 12:28 PM

“I really want to know if they have searched the WHOLE building. I think it is necessary.”

ahlang1226 at 02-16-2013, 03:50 PM

“Hoping that the roof and furnace room have been checked… Watched the video many times now and it really is freaky, wonder if Elisa’s friends can interpret any of her gestures?”

dotr at 02-17-2013, 01:14 AM

“Can the police just search the whole hotel please………Someone on facebook wrote this, bascically saying Elisa is still in the building:

‘I’m with Ken. She is still in the hotel. Either she was take to another hotel room, the roof, basement or… But I don’t believe she left. … I wish the police would check all the rooms and fire escapes and storage areas. I think she is still there.’”

ahlang1226 at 02-17-2013, 02:22 AM

Image credit: John Stavely

12th & Delaware: Every Day A Battle Is Born

You might want to skip this post (about abortion). Need help? In New Zealand, you can call Lifeline on 0800 543 354 or Youthline on 0800 37 66 33.

12th & Delaware documentary poster

Click here to watch the documentary. You can make the video full-screen to avoid the advert.

The two sides of the abortion debate in America literally face one another in this documentary from filmmakers Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady.

In Fort Pierce, Florida, a women’s heath care center is located at the corner of 12th and Delaware. On the same corner, across the street, is another women’s heath care center.

However, the two centers are not in the same business; one provides abortions along with a variety of other health services, while the other primarily offers counseling to women considering abortion, urging them to keep their babies.

In 12th and Delaware, Ewing and Grady offer a look inside both offices, as pro-life counselors give women a mixture of concern and disinformation about terminating their pregnancies and the pro-choice medical staff struggles to work under the frequent threat of violence against them.

The film also examines the handful of protesters who stand outside the abortion clinic, confronting both patients and staff as they enter and exit. (via)

In Florida there are two street corners, both 12th & Delaware. An abortion clinic, run by a husband and wife, and an anti-abortion crisis pregnancy care center, run by Father Tom sit across the street from each other.

“We still get women coming in who think they’re going there [to the abortion clinic].”

Women aren’t sure which one they’re calling or visiting. The pregnancy care center does nothing to clarify that they don’t actually offer abortions. What they do offer is “counseling” to actively try to persuade women from choosing abortion, graphic photographs, free ultrasounds (with ‘HI DADDY!’ typed in the corner of the print out), models of fetuses, DVDs of anti-abortion propaganda playing in the waiting room, flip books of the abortion process, graphic DVDs of the procedure, and brochures stating that abortion causes breast cancer.

The abortion clinic claims the pregnancy care center gives incorrect information to women–among spreading myths about abortion and medical disinformation, they say the center tells women they are earlier in their pregnancy than they actually are, so if they think they have a few weeks to make a decision and then decide to have an abortion they either won’t be able to get an one or will have to travel to another state to get one.

Choice quotes from one of the crisis pregnancy center counselors

“She’s abortion-minded.”

“She had an abortion in December. She might do it again.”

[to ultrasound technician (likely the only person in the building with any sort of medical training)] “Maybe we can get a heartbeat.”

”Yus, yus, yus, two [“saved”] in one day.”

The efforts the pregnancy counselors go to push their agenda have no bounds

A woman comes in. She already has two kids. She says she wants what is best for herself and the children she already has. Her position is entirely understandable.

The counselor goes to her office and sends an email out to a prayer mailing list: “Please pray for Victoria, she is in our counseling room at this very moment, and her only option is abortion…”

She buys McDonald’s for the woman, thinking that if the woman leaves before having an ultrasound that she might “lose her”. They eat together.

She tells the woman that her verbally abusive partner might change if she has this baby.

“I’m gonna step outside and make a phone call.”

“[on phone] Man this bitch is getting on my fucking nerve.”


The crew follow-up with a 15-year-old who was convinced she should continue with her pregnancy by the care center. She tells the crew that she tried to end the pregnancy herself. She hopes that everything will turn out alright.

The protestors and the doctors

The same counselor from above makes her way across the street to talk to the protesters. They’re friends. She shares news from an anti-abortion website.

She comes out a second time after the police are called and defends the protesters’ use of graphic signs.

The doctors who perform abortions are picked up by the clinic owner, and, with a sheet covering their heads, are taken into the clinic’s closed garage to protect their identities.

“I’ve discovered, thanks through God that I know where the owner of the abortion clinic meets the abortionists.”

One of the protesters from outside the abortion clinic leads the documentary crew to a Wal-Mart parking lot. He’s found where the doctors and clinic owner meet and swap cars. He, as well as others try to find out names and addresses of the abortion doctors. They want to out the doctors, using methods like displaying their photo on billboards; and visiting their homes, churches, and workplaces, to deter them from performing abortions.

The abortion clinic

“I just wanna make sure that this is definitely what you need to do, not want to do, nobody ever wants to do this… It’s your decision only.”

In strong contrast with the pregnancy care center, the abortion clinic is truly about choice.

“Yeah… they got a replacement and that doctor was killed too.”

The main fear is that they will lose their doctors. Their abortionists are in their 50s and 60s. “Where is the next doctor coming from” if a doctor retires or is outed?

Watch an interview with the co-directors of the documentary, Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady.

Here’s a new Tumblr sharing New Zealand women’s stories of abortion.

Click here to watch the documentary. You can make the video full-screen to avoid the advert.


“In Massachusetts many banks agreed that their customers must remove their hats and sunglasses once they crossed a bank’s threshold. Of these branches, only 3% were robbed.” – The Economist

Perhaps the bank version of the “please turn off your digital devices” policy on planes is the no hats (or hoodies, or helmets, or sunglasses) policy.

Mr Delancaster-Swinbank-Slack is annoyed that the staff at his local ANZ branch continually ask him to remove his hat when he visits.

The sign at the door clearly indicates the policy, but Mr Delancaster-Swinbank-Slack is 83 and is no “young thug”, so he chooses to ignore it.

He puts ANZ staff into a difficult position because they can’t apply the policy discriminately to just the people they think look a bit dodge.

He notes that staff “usually relented because of his age and non-menacing appearance”. He puts the other staff working in the branch into an even more difficult position. Say someone else comes into the branch. Maybe they look dodgy, maybe they don’t. They’re also wearing a hat.

How do you explain to them that you’d like them to remove their hat when a couple of metres away Anthony is over there rocking his sports hat? Do you choose to ask the person who just walked in, potentially really offending one of your customers with the insinuation that they look suspect? Or do you not ask, knowing that the large majority of bank robbers cover their face/head in some way?

 This post represents my views, not my employer’s.

Shut Up & Sing

Dixie Chicks - Shut Up And Sing

I re-watched this last night. Kind of relevant right now.

This Chicks flick by Barbara Kopple (Academy Award winner for Harlan County, U.S.A.) and Cecilia Peck is powerful testament to the inconvenient truth that free speech can come at a very high cost. The Dixie Chicks, Texas-based and one of country music’s most successful acts, found out just how costly it was in the weeks following a March 10, 2003, concert in London. Indulging in some between-song patter, singer Natalie Maines expressed shame that “the president of the United States is from Texas.”

In politics, as in comedy, timing is everything; and at the time, President George W. Bush’s popularity among the Chicks’ traditional country fans was sky-high, and the invasion of Iraq was imminent. Reaction was fast and furious. Country radio stations boycotted the Dixie Chicks’ music. Conservative talk show hosts lambasted them.

Country superstar Toby Keith got into the act by denigrating Maines in his concerts. People destroyed Dixie Chicks CDs in public protests that echoed the furor sparked by John Lennon’s 1966 “We’re more popular than Jesus now” comment. The trio’s tour had to be scaled back and rerouted to include friendlier climes (Canada). (via)

Microsoft Windows 7/Vista Law Enforcement Guides

Public Intelligence got a hold of some interesting slides that Microsoft seems to present to law enforcement personnel. Microsoft explains the weaknesses in their privacy/security functions and how law enforcement et al. can leverage them best.

Here are some highlights:



Microsoft Law Enforcement Cover Your Tracks

A benefit to law enforcement of InPrivate is that website data for sites added to favorites will be left alone if a box remains ticked.

Microsoft Law Enforcement Tor Project

Not surprisingly, The Tor Project comes up in the presentation (because anyone using Tor must be doing something bad!!), associated with the user name ‘bad guy’.

Microsoft Law Enforcement InPrivate

Common uses of the InPrivate mode include checking e-mail on public computers and “shopping for gifts” on family computers.

Microsoft Law Enforcement InPrivate 3

In a plea to not lose their law enforcement buddies because of the inclusion of these inconveniencing features, Microsoft says that they’re not alone including private browsing functionality, ie. they were forced to do this because the competition was doing it (good job Firefox and Chrome).

Microsoft Law Enforcement InPrivate 2


Microsoft Law Enforcement Bitlocker

Microsoft says that it’s not all bad, BitLocker isn’t available to any commoner, it “has a number of ‘Recovery’ scenarios that we can exploit”, and that users are scared of encryption.

Microsoft Law Enforcement Bitlocker 2

“We are the good guys!” Who are the bad guys then? The people using encryption/BitLocker?

Microsoft Law Enforcement Forensic First Responders

Virtual PC Undo Disks

Microsoft Law Enforcement Virtual PC Undo Disks

Virtual PC Undo Disks are scary for law enforcement.

Full presentations are here.