Efficiency is the name of the game in oral discovery. As a litigator, you have a limited window to schedule and take depositions. And when you sit down with a deponent, you need to cover substantive ground quickly. Efficient deposition practice means getting as much information as possible while spending the minimum time and money necessary. Remote deposition services can help you accomplish those ends.
In the past few years, legal technology has evolved to make virtual depositions just as productive and often more cost-effective than an in-person witness examination. By leveraging a remote deposition solution, you can make the most of your limited time, budget, and bandwidth for taking sworn testimony.
How Remote Deposition Services Maximize Efficiency
Remote deposition services—when you use the right ones—create efficiencies because they’re designed with the busy litigator in mind. Every feature they offer aims to make it straightforward and cost-effective to take testimony remotely. Here are just some of the ways they do it.
Remote Deposition Services Offer an All-In-One Solution, Not Just Video Conferencing
Remote deposition services are not dressed-up versions of video conferencing software like Webex or Zoom. They’re purpose-built, legal-first, all-in-one software solutions designed to facilitate every aspect of scheduling, planning, taking, defending, recording, and transcribing a virtual deposition. Instead of relying on a patchwork of applications and service providers — one for sharing exhibits, another for videography, and so on — lawyers have a single platform where they manage and carry out every aspect of oral discovery.
Remote Deposition Services Streamline Scheduling and Promote Flexibility
Seasoned lawyers, paralegals, and administrative assistants know all too well the frustrations of trying to schedule a key witness’s in-person deposition. It can take weeks to find a date that you, the opposing counsel, and the witness have free, let alone one that fits with your preferred sequencing of discovery.
Things get even more challenging if someone has to travel a long distance to attend, or if you have an adversary prone to gamesmanship. And recent shortages of traditional stenographers have only made the task more challenging. In a break from the pre-Covid past, these days you can’t count on your local court reporting service to have availability to attend a deposition at your office—on short or even medium-term notice.
Using a remote deposition service solves those scheduling issues. Since no one has to travel to participate—not even across town—it gives the parties maximum flexibility to fit a deposition into their calendars.
Remote deposition platforms also incorporate the booking of qualified court reporters into their workflow, virtually guaranteeing that a credentialed court reporter will be available to swear in the witness and transcribe proceedings whenever and wherever you need them. Some remote transcription services will also book interpreters to provide simultaneous or consecutive interpretation for non-English speaking witnesses.
Remote Deposition Services Make Witness Examination Easy and Intuitive
In the early days of the Covid-19 pandemic, taking a remote deposition meant logging on to a video conferencing platform and muddling through as best you could. Data lags and other assorted glitches constantly interrupted proceedings. You needed to follow elaborate procedures to do something as simple as marking an exhibit, sharing it with opposing counsel, and reviewing it with a deponent.
But those days are over. Today’s remote deposition solutions offer a suite of tools designed to facilitate the nuts-and-bolts tasks of witness examination. By using a purpose-built remote deposition platform, you should be able to:
- Rest easy knowing your confidential case information is stored on a secure, encrypted network;
- Upload and mark exhibits in advance or on the fly during questioning;
- Ensure that everyone sees and hears the witness clearly;
- Stay on the literal and figurative “same page” as the witness while reviewing a document with them;
- Keep an eye on the real-time feed of a voice-to-text transcription of questions, answers, and objections;
- Have a confidential sidebar discussion with your client in a virtual breakout room.
Remote deposition service platforms designed and developed these features to make remote depositions feel as natural to lawyers as questioning a witness in a conference room. Most lawyers find it takes minimal training and practice to feel comfortable using true remote deposition software. Once they’ve mastered the basics, they can cover ground with a witness as effectively as in an in-person setting.
Remote Deposition Services Offer Timely, High-Quality Deliverables
Lawyers can obtain every type of recording and transcription they might need from a remote deposition service. Industry-leading virtual deposition platforms can deliver:
- A rough draft transcript of the deposition shortly after the end of questioning;
- A prompt, accurate, non-certified transcript;
- A timely certified transcript in any digital or hard-copy format the litigator needs for a particular jurisdiction; and
- Courtroom-ready videography of all or portions of a deposition, paired with overlaid transcript text or exhibits.
With a remote deposition service, lawyers get to decide what deliverables they get. They never need to pay for unnecessary transcripts or elaborate deposition videos if they don’t need them.
Tips for Maximizing the Efficiency of Your Remote Video Depositions
Although remote deposition services aim to make their offerings as intuitive and user-friendly as possible, lawyers can still benefit from following some best practices in their use. To that end, here are a few tips to maximize the efficiency of your remote depositions.
Take Advantage of Training and Encourage Others to Do the Same
Remote deposition technology is relatively new, and it continues to evolve. Lawyers and witnesses should take full advantage of training and demos available from the service provider. Any lawyer using a remote deposition platform should aim to feel comfortable with its tools and features well before the deposition date.
Plan for the Digital Environment
There are some basic requirements that all participants in a remote deposition must meet. To ensure an efficient and effective witness examination, take the time to confirm that you and the other participants have:
- A quiet, private, well-lit, interruption-free place from which to participate;
- A reliable, sufficiently fast internet connection;
- A computer or tablet that meets the software’s minimum performance characteristics and has a working camera and microphone;
- A copy of any pre-agreed protocols or procedures governing the remote deposition.
It can help to do a dry run a day or two before the deposition to ensure everyone’s connections and devices function correctly. Nothing makes a remote deposition inefficient quite like a participant being unable to connect to, see, or hear the proceedings.
Follow Discovery Procedures and Local Rules for Remote Depositions
Procedural rules have yet to fully catch up with the times when it comes to the ubiquity of remote depositions. In some jurisdictions, discovery rules still treat remote depositions as unusual occurrences requiring the opposing party’s and witness’s consent or a court order. Your deposition notice may also need to specify that the testimony will be taken remotely and identify any parties who plan to attend together from a single location.
Remember to read local court rules and your judge’s standing orders, too. They may contain specifications for noticing and taking remote depositions or formatting transcripts and videography. Don’t commit an inefficient, unforced error by taking a remote deposition or recording video in a format a judge might reject.
Communicate Expectations, Needs, and Important Information to Your Court Reporter in Advance
Taking a deposition with the help of a remote service provider doesn’t suspend ordinary good practices when working with your court reporter. You can help ensure an efficient remote deposition by communicating with your reporter in advance about:
- The transcripts, videography, or other deliverables you expect to order;
- The number of exhibits you expect to use and how you want them marked;
- Any exhibits in unusual formats and how you want to manage them during the deposition and refer to them in the transcript; and
- The spellings of the parties’ names, the lawyers’ names, and any specialized or unusual case-specific terminology.
As seasoned litigators know, giving your court reporter a heads-up about these topics increases the accuracy of transcripts, shortens your wait for transcripts and videography, and saves you money.
Anticipate and Avoid Glitches, Interruptions, and Other Problems
When it’s time for the remote video deposition to begin, all participants should open the video-deposition platform and close every other program running on their devices, including e-mail, web browser, or Word, to ensure the platform will perform as it is meant to, with a minimum of glitches and interruptions.
Also, before beginning the deposition, ask participants if anyone is in the room with them and whether they are looking at anything other than the screen. Ask them to scan the room with their camera if necessary to show they’re alone. Caution the deponent to answer each question wholly on their own without looking at or communicating with anyone else (subject to their attorney’s objections, of course). And finally, do your court reporter a solid and remind everyone to please not talk over one another, as it can mute participants’ audio and hinder the preparation of a complete transcript.
Learn How the Right Remote Deposition Services Platform Can Make Your Practice More Efficient
Remote Legal is an industry-leading remote deposition service. Our purpose-built platform offers an array of features designed to meet a litigator’s every need when taking a virtual deposition. To learn how our products and services can promote efficiency and productivity in your litigation practice, contact us today for a demo.
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