The attorney-client working relationship: A comparison of in-person versus videoconferencing modalities

Brendan R. McDonald, Robert D. Morgan, Patrick S. Metze

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


The current study compared criminal defendants' perceptions of attorney-client working relationship variables across in-person and videoconferencing consultation modalities. Defendants participated in pre-trial consultations with their defense attorneys either inperson (n = 22) or via videoconference (n = 21) and then completed a series of measures assessing their perceptions of working alliance, trust, procedural fairness, and satisfaction with attorney services. Results of a series of multivariate analyses of variance (MANOVA) procedures, independent samples t-tests, and Mann-Whitney U tests revealed no significant between-group differences in defendants' ratings of each of these variables. In addition, estimates of effect size indicated generally small experimental effects. Examination of descriptive and frequency statistics indicated defendants provided positive ratings of videoconference consultations. These findings are considered to be preliminary given the methodological limitations of this study; however, results suggested that core components of the attorney-client working relationship were not significantly altered with the use of videoconferencing. Furthermore, results suggested defendants found videoconferencing to be an acceptable medium for facilitating attorney-client pre-trial consultations. These results are consistent with research findings regarding the acceptability of correctional telehealth and telemental health services, and extend this research to the domain of attorney-client consultations. Implications for legal practice and policy are discussed, as is the need for further research in this area.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)200-210
Number of pages11
JournalPsychology, Public Policy, and Law
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 1 2016


  • Attorney-client relationship
  • Defense attorneys
  • Pre-trial consultations
  • Videoconference
  • Working alliance


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