5 Best Practices for Effective Remote Court Reporting

Most litigators in 2023 likely know at least two things about remote depositions. First, they’re on the rise, quickly becoming a viable alternative to in-person witness examination. Second, they’re different from taking testimony in person. 

One significant difference between remote and in-person depositions involves how the court reporters recording them do their jobs. Capturing a complete, accurate record of virtual proceedings requires specific capabilities that in-person court reporters don’t necessarily have. From software setup to jurisdiction formalities, your remote depositions can seemingly turn into chaos without effective and professional remote court reporting. To get the most out of a virtual deposition, follow these best practices in managing and working with your remote court reporter.

1. Pick Proficient Remote Court Reporting

At one time, your litigation practice could use the same local court reporting agency for all your depositions. Once booked, they’d show up at your office on the appointed date with a steno machine in hand, swear in the witness, take down testimony, and deliver the transcripts you ordered a week or two later (or faster if you paid extra). Theirs was a highly localized business catering almost exclusively to lawyers within driving distance of their homes or offices.  

But now that remote depositions have begun to take off, that’s all changed. You can’t rely on your go-to local court reporter to handle every job. Even if they have the technological know-how, resources, and flexibility to record virtual testimony (and some still don’t), they might not necessarily have the ability to swear in a witness in a faraway location—and the ongoing shortage of court reporters can make securing the court reporter you need even more difficult. 

Related: How to Pick a Court Reporter for Your Case

To take a successful remote deposition, pick a court reporter who knows the ins and outs of the software and protocols you plan to use (more on this below) and is authorized to administer oaths to witnesses in the jurisdiction where the deponent will connect from. As discussed below, you can easily find and book that kind of reporter by using a leading remote deposition service.  

2. Use Purpose-Built Court Reporting Software

The accuracy, completeness, and efficiency of a remote court reporter’s work product correlate directly to the quality of the digital environment the lawyers provide. Court reporting suffers when lawyers opt to conduct a deposition over a generic video conferencing platform unsuited to the demands of on-the-record oral discovery. 

Error rates and transcript turnaround times rise when reporters cannot hear, see, or follow testimony due to data lags, audio and video dropouts, and onerous protocols and workarounds necessitated by the shortcomings of generic video conferencing applications.  

Litigators can foster top-quality work product from their court reporters by conducting depositions on a purpose-built court reporting platform rather than a generic video conference service. Today’s leading digital court reporting solutions offer features designed to ensure a clear, accurate, and timely record of proceedings, such as:

  • Integrated booking of qualified, proficient digital court reporters;
  • An all-in-one platform to which all participants connect, featuring secure, high-quality audio and video streams and user-friendly document review tools; 
  • The ability to upload and mark exhibits in advance or on the fly; 
  • AI-assisted voice-to-text live transcription feeds;
  • Audio and video capture with overlaid transcript text suitable for use in a courtroom;
  • Immediate availability of rough draft transcripts;
  • Availability of unedited deposition video within 30 minutes of a session ending; and
  • Timely delivery of accurate, certified transcripts in any required hard copy or digital format. 

Using a remote court reporting solution with these features enhances and facilitates top-quality remote court reporting. It eliminates uncertainty about a reporter’s proficiency while promoting a clear presentation of evidence. In addition, it effectively eliminates the lags, glitches, and complexities that prevent reporters from capturing an accurate record when lawyers conduct a deposition on a generic video platform. 

3. Anticipate and Address Hardware and Logistical Issues

Achieving the maximum court reporting benefits from a purpose-built remote deposition platform requires ensuring that the participants have the basic necessities to connect to and use its features. You can do your court reporter (and yourself) a favor by anticipating and addressing issues that could interfere with the parties’ full participation in the proceedings. For example: 

  • Communicate minimum software, hardware, and connection speed specifications to all participants weeks in advance; 
  • Test (and re-test) your and your client’s equipment and connections to ensure they function properly; 
  • Confirm that all parties will participate from a quiet, private, interruption-free location; 
  • Consider convening all parties for a brief test run a day or two beforehand.

Related: Technical Requirements for a Remote Deposition

Simple preparatory steps like these can prevent costly disruptions on the day of a deposition. The fewer of those interruptions that occur, the greater the chance of obtaining a clear and accurate record from the remote court reporter. 

4. Practice Proactive Digital Exhibit Management

Taking a deposition remotely often complicates the simple act of marking an exhibit and questioning a witness about it. The best remote court reporting software makes such tasks reasonably intuitive and convenient. But nothing you do virtually can be as easy as handing a piece of paper across a conference table. And if you’re not careful, poor exhibit management in a remote deposition can introduce confusion that mars the record and diminishes a court reporter’s work product.

Successful litigators practice proactive exhibit management in their remote depositions. They upload as many exhibits as practicable to the remote platform before the deposition (exhibits are stored on a secure server with access limited to parties of the lawyer’s choosing). They format exhibits for optimal review on the platform. They coordinate with opposing counsel on how to handle any exhibits unsuited to screen-based review. And they explain exhibit marking and numbering protocols to the court reporter in advance and pre-mark the exhibits they’re sure to use. 

Practicing proactive exhibit management streamlines a remote deposition by taking full advantage of the features of purpose-built remote deposition software. In so doing, it minimizes errors and confusion in marking and reviewing exhibits that can muddy the record. 

5. Be Considerate of Your Remote Court Reporter

The tried and true best practices for working with court reporters hold in remote depositions to the same extent as in-person sessions. Lawyers can assist remote court reporters in creating a complete and reliable record by: 

  • Alerting them to the correct spelling of party names and case-specific terminology in advance;
  • Being mindful of their needs when taking breaks; 
  • Following rules of good deposition conduct like avoiding cross-talk, enunciating, and speaking slowly; and
  • Giving them a heads-up about anticipated transcript orders and deadlines. 

In other words, always remember to treat your remote court reporter as a professional deserving of your respect, just as you would the reporter you work with during an in-person deposition. Your simple courtesy and consideration can go a long way in ensuring you receive high-quality, timely work product from a digital court reporter.

Remote Legal is an industry-leading provider of remote court reporting software and services. We offer a purpose-built legal platform designed to help litigators, clients, and court reporters accomplish every task involved in taking and defending remote testimony. Contact our team today for a demo of our one-of-a-kind products. 

See Remote Legal in Action

Let us show you our single source solution so you can get back to doing the things you love.