Remote depositions require software to conduct, record, and transcribe each session. But not all court reporting software is created equal. And some lawyers still run significant practical and ethical risks by not using digital deposition solutions at all, opting instead to muddle through remote witness examinations by hosting them on generic video conferencing platforms.
Savvy litigators know, however, that purpose-built court reporting software unlocks the true potential of remote depositions. By choosing a leading all-in-one online deposition solution, you can take remote testimony as effectively as doing it in person. Here’s a review of the six must-have features to look for when choosing court reporting software for your litigation practice.
Feature #1: Integrated Court Reporting Software with Reporter Scheduling
Remote depositions save participants the time and trouble of traveling to a lawyer’s office. But that doesn’t necessarily make them easy to schedule. In particular, unlike an in-person deposition, you need to book a court reporter with the requisite technological proficiency to record the proceedings remotely and the credentials to administer oaths in the witness’s jurisdiction.
You and your staff shouldn’t need to cold-call court reporting agencies in faraway locations to find someone who can swear in the witness and oversee remote deposition proceedings. The court reporting solution for you should eliminate the difficulty of locating a suitable stenographer. It should connect you with qualified court reporters trained on the software, licensed in relevant jurisdictions (no matter how geographically remote the participants are), and prepared to deliver timely, accurate, high-quality transcripts.
Feature #2: Frictionless Setup
In the typical online deposition, at least three parties — you, the witness and their lawyer, and a court reporter — log in and participate remotely. Each needs to be able to access the platform and use its features simultaneously. That can get complicated if the software you choose creates friction for user participation by, say:
- Requiring every user to create an account or pay a subscription fee to access the platform or certain features;
- Lacking broad hardware or operating system compatibility;
- Throttling audio/video quality during periods of high user volume; or
- Imposing maximum session times.
Choose court reporting software that simplifies connecting people to an online deposition. It shouldn’t require all participants to set up an account or purchase a subscription before joining a session. Instead, it should ensure everyone receives high-quality audio and video feeds so long as they meet minimal hardware, operating system, and internet connection requirements. And it must permit sessions to run as long as necessary, without interruption.
Feature #3: All-In-One Remote Deposition Interface
To conduct a virtual deposition, you need more than just a remote video link connecting the parties. You also need, at a minimum, a means of transcribing and video recording the proceedings, marking, sharing, and viewing exhibits, and conferring confidentially with your client.
In the early days of remote depositions, some lawyers tried to accomplish each function using separate software applications and analog workarounds to decidedly mixed results. With so many working parts, those remote depositions became hopelessly unwieldy.
The best court reporting software eliminates the challenge of cobbling together a deposition from multiple applications. Choose one that offers an all-in-one user interface combining deposition audio and video streams, AI-powered voice-to-text transcription, chat features, virtual breakout rooms, and exhibit uploading and review tools. You should be able to accomplish every task involved in taking or defending a deposition within a single software solution.
Feature #4: Convenient Exhibit Management
Experience over time has given litigators several tips and tricks for managing exhibits within a virtual environment. However, taking remote testimony complicates the task of marking exhibits and showing them to a witness and opposing counsel. Whereas you can simply hand an exhibit to a witness in an in-person deposition, the same action requires software and hardware in the virtual realm. If your court reporting software doesn’t make those tasks easy and intuitive, your online deposition can quickly go off the rails.
The court reporting solution for you should incorporate a sophisticated suite of exhibit management tools that give you the ability to mark and upload exhibits in a range of digital formats to a secure server before the deposition or in the thick of questioning. You should control whether, when, and how to share those exhibits with a witness and opposing counsel. And you should be able to show a witness an exhibit on an interface that leaves no confusion about whether the two of you are on the (literal and figurative) same page when you ask questions about it.
Feature #5: Courtroom-Ready Videography
Experienced trial lawyers understand the power of using videography in court. Most can tell stories about a witness’s body language, hesitation, or evasiveness during a deposition, injecting essential context into a written transcript. But some can also tell cautionary tales about low-quality videos doing more harm than good by distracting the jury or appearing amateurish.
In selecting court reporting software, opt for the solution that offers high-quality, reliable video and audio streaming that you can easily capture, edit, and package into courtroom-ready presentations. The best software provides video and audio synchronized with transcript text, a variety of screen formats (full screen, picture-in-picture, zoom, etc.), and tagging key moments so you can jump to them with one click. And the software should give you access to video quickly — within 30 minutes of the end of a deposition at most.
Feature #6: Fast, Accurate Transcripts
Litigators took the accuracy and delivery of their deposition transcripts more or less for granted until depositions went entirely remote in the opening days of the pandemic. Poor video and audio quality caused by data lags and technical glitches hampered stenographers’ ability to capture a complete record and stretched turnaround times from days to (at times) months. Three years on, it’s still a problem.
The right court reporting software for your practice should restore your confidence in the quality and timeliness of your transcripts. It should leverage AI to give you a reasonably accurate voice-to-text live stream of transcribed testimony as it happens and a rough draft transcript available immediately when your deposition ends. It should also give you options for purchasing certified transcripts delivered on time, error-free, and in any digital or hard copy format you need. And you should be able to count on clear communications from your court reporter notifying you when your deliverables are ready.
Be Confident in Your Choice of Court Reporting Software
Remote depositions have become firmly entrenched in the litigation landscape. And thanks to advances in legal technology, they’ve finally evolved into a viable — even attractive — alternative to in-person witness examination. But you need the right tools for the job. Choosing a high-quality, purpose-built court reporting software solution is the key to gaining the confidence to conduct most, if not all, of your depositions remotely without the slightest dip in efficacy and at potentially significant cost-savings to you and your client.
Remote Legal is an industry-leading provider of cutting-edge virtual court reporting software and services. Our remote depositions solutions incorporate all of the must-have features described above because we designed them to meet the needs of busy litigators like you. Contact us today for a product demo.
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