How Have Remote Deposition Services Changed the Industry?
The legal industry was already facing a serious problem when Covid-19 hit—a national shortage of court reporters. With an unusually high “dropout” rate in court reporter schools (graduation rates ranging from 2-14%), the legal system across America was experiencing “bottlenecks” that kept the system from moving smoothly.
Once again, technology came to the rescue in the form of remote deposition services. Despite the fact that stenographers had been pushing back for years against electronic and digital court reporting, the national pandemic began reshaping the industry.
The arguments against software-driven court reporting included the very real issues of muffled speech, individuals speaking over one another, and unfamiliar accents. Yet when courthouses in every state began shutting down, the implementation of remote proceedings, including videoconferencing that included remote deposition services, began across a number of platforms.
The technology is here to stay. What is necessary is that attorneys, judges, and court reporters all master remote deposition and court proceedings. This includes not only a different type of presentation but also a full understanding of video etiquette and ensuring there are backups in case the technology goes awry.
How Remote Deposition Services Work
Although software like Webex and Zoom are sometimes used for remote depositions, using purpose-built, legal-first software made for depositions and other legal proceedings is likely a better choice. When remote deposition services provide their own remote deposition platform and court reporters, there are no additional programs needed to modify recordings to use at trial or introduce exhibits.
Remote deposition service platforms offer pre-deposition training as well as posted video recordings that clearly show how the technology works. During the deposition, the court reporting transcripts can be viewed in real time, as a means of reviewing prior answers.
Advanced exhibit technology allows lawyers to easily admit exhibits into the legal proceeding, as well as to mark and annotate them. These services are much more than a Zoom overlay, even offering “breakout” rooms where lawyers can have private conversations with clients securely, away from other participants.
The court reporters have deep expertise in conducting a remote deposition, both the legal aspects and the technological aspects. Additionally, the court reporter should have multi-state and national jurisdictional knowledge regarding oath administration and transcript formatting. Any remote deposition platform that also provides a court reporter ensures the reporter is familiar with the specific technology, able to troubleshoot issues that might arise.
While the technology is relatively new, it’s important to remember that remote deposition services were built specifically for the legal industry, unlike generic video conferencing solutions. Encrypted network protection and streaming ensure the safety, privacy, and security of remote depositions. Secure storage is also a part of these services, built to meet legal industry compliance regulations.
Interpretation and Translation as an Added Bonus
Our world is increasingly diverse; participants in depositions may be unable to speak or understand English, creating a significant barrier to justice. Some remote deposition services provide a team of interpreters to remove this hurdle from the mix. Whether you prefer simultaneous or consecutive interpretation, interpreters are selected specifically for their expertise in a particular legal subject matter, their expertise in a specific language, and their extensive legal experience.
Examinations Under Oath and Transcript-less Depositions
In some cases, a deposition, particularly one that is short, may not require a formal, written, certified transcript. Certain remote deposition services platforms enable lawyers to conduct a deposition, capture records, and retrieve a certified transcript if needed. In other words, you won’t find yourself paying for services you don’t need or want.
Examinations Under Oath are another way these services can serve the needs of the legal industry. Insurance companies can have a EUO conducted quickly and efficiently via video, with a verbatim transcript that fully capitalizes on the platform plus the remote court reporting team. Short hearings no longer need to drain valuable resources like time and money, rather this technology can maximize efficiency while reducing costs.
Is There a Downside to Remote Depositions?
Although it seems Remote depositions are here to stay, there is one disadvantage that most businesses are experiencing as well. After 18 months of the pandemic and video calls, many of us are experiencing what is known as “Zoom fatigue.” Obviously, all attorneys want their witnesses and clients to appear sharp and engaged, video calls tend to tax our cognitive abilities more than in-person interactions.
A Stanford University study attributes this to the excessive, and even unnatural, amount of eye contact necessary in a video call. Since we see ourselves and others on camera, a greater degree of concentration is necessary to answer questions. A deposition is already a nerve-wracking experience, so “Zoom fatigue” must be acknowledged and counterbalanced.
Crucial Tips for Conducting Remote Video Depositions
Because the technology is relatively new, it is crucial to have thorough training. All participants must follow the rules established for any given remote deposition. All participants will have a designated location, preferably in a quiet, well-lit area.
There should be universal agreement on who will appear remotely and whether there will be more than one socially distanced participant in a single room. The remote video deposition notice will denote in-person or videoconference attendance.
Technical issues are always a fear during a remote deposition. All participants must have computers or tablets equipped with a video camera, as well as the minimum technical requirements necessary for running the software.
A fast internet connection is crucial. Rural areas with satellite internet are unlikely to meet the requirements for a remote deposition as there can be lags and buffering. Implementing a test run a few days prior to the deposition is never a bad idea.
One thing to always remember is that remote video depositions are not automatically recorded, so make sure to tell the court reporter that you do need a video recording of the deposition.
When it’s time for the remote video deposition to begin, all participants should open the video-deposition platform and close every other program that might be open, including e-mail, web browser, or Word. This ensures the platform will perform as it is meant to, with no glitches or interruptions.
Before beginning the deposition, ask participants if there is anyone in the room with them and whether they are looking at anything other than the screen. Caution them to answer each question wholly on their own without looking at or communicating with anyone else. All of these tips can help ensure your remote deposition comes off without a hitch.
How Can Remote Legal Court Reporting Help?
Remote depositions are no longer Zoom with a Stenographer when you choose Remote Legal Court Reporting. Our secure, online platform uniquely mirrors the in-person deposition experience.
Going a step beyond our technology, our team of court reporters brings deep remote legal proceeding expertise. The combined single-source solutions we offer result in the most modern, technologically savvy method of conducting remote legal proceedings. Contact Remote Legal today to learn more.