In the past few years, litigators have embraced remote depositions as an alternative to examining witnesses in person. But despite the availability of top-tier legal-first software, many lawyers still take remote testimony via Zoom and other generic technology that doesn’t meet their needs. In fact, a recent study found that out of over one hundred attorneys, 78% used generic video conferencing for depositions and 50% had encountered mishaps and glitches while taking remote testimony (especially while trying to share exhibits).
Those are needless struggles. With the right virtual deposition software, lawyers have all the tools they need to schedule, prepare for, take, and record efficient, effective, remote testimony. Here’s a rundown of the key qualities to look for in a remote deposition solution.
What Are the Differences Between Mainstream Video Platforms and Specialized Virtual Deposition Software?
A virtual deposition is a witness examination that takes place via a video conference link. The need for remote proceedings used to be so rare that litigators had to use creative measures to make it work in a way that would be admissible if the case went to trial. Before the advent of specialized platforms, the most logical solution was utilizing existing virtual conferencing and video software.
When using generic video platforms such as Zoom for this purpose, the deposition process involved cobbling together a lot of different tools to be effective. Litigators had to organize documents and exhibits on their end while using screen-sharing features to present information to the remote group (often including, lawyers, defendants, insurance entities, witnesses, and court reporters). If a lawyer needed to have a private chat with their witness, such conversation had to be held in a separate program via chat, texting, or some other medium.
Virtual deposition software, on the other hand, is an application purpose-built for conducting remote depositions. The leading deposition software solutions offer a suite of features designed to meet the unique demands of litigators, including:
- Video and audio recording and broadcasting.
- Artificial Intelligence transcription and immediately available rough drafts.
- Virtual stenographers.
- Paperless digital exhibits.
- Scheduling capabilities.
- Case management capabilities.
- Easy-to-enter virtual break-out rooms.
- Witness-only time-stamped video (which is also recordable and trial-ready).
- Interactive real-time streaming.
Remote deposition software is an excellent alternative to mainstream video conferencing software—and a necessary solution—because it takes all of the needs and activities of a deposition into account. It is a secure and efficient way to conduct a deposition remotely.
6 Features of Leading Virtual Deposition Software
Remote deposition software makes it possible for legal professionals to conduct depositions from anywhere on the planet with internet access. But not all remote deposition solutions are made equal. The best virtual deposition applications offer the following must-have features, all designed to ensure a productive and seamless witness examination.
- A Web-Based Application and User Interface
Using virtual deposition software should be technologically simple and user-friendly. To that end, the best solutions are web-based. They require no installations or downloads — just an up-to-date web browser, a reliable internet connection, and a web camera and microphone for each participant. When the scheduled deposition goes live, each party receives an invitation via email that allows them to enter the virtual deposition site.
All participants in a session can see each other on a single screen. And the software gives the attorney-organizer complete control over who has access, eliminating the risk of interlopers. The technology is secure and reliable, ensuring that the proceedings remain confidential and free of technological disruptions.
- Integrated Deposition and Court-Reporter Scheduling
Top virtual deposition solutions make scheduling a snap. They provide easy-to-use tools for attorneys and their staff to coordinate with participants on the timing and other logistics of the session. And they offer access to a network of certified court reporters who are trained on the software and can administer oaths to the witness (or arrange for a qualified notary to do so).
The virtual deposition software serves, in other words, as the one-stop-shop for all of a litigator’s responsibilities in scheduling and preparing for a deposition, eliminating the need to manage logistics across multiple digital or analog platforms.
- A Familiar Deposition Workflow
A deposition conducted virtually should feel familiar and intuitive to any litigator by proceeding in the same manner as one conducted in person at a lawyer’s office. The participants join by entering the virtual deposition room. A qualified and technologically proficient court reporter swears the witness. The lawyer taking the deposition asks questions. The witness answers. The witness’s attorney lodges objections when appropriate. And the participants decide when and for how long to take breaks or have off-the-record discussions and consultations. To the greatest extent possible, the best legal-ready software effectively recreates the experience of conducting a witness examination across a conference table.
- Efficient, Effective Exhibit Management
The best virtual deposition platform solves the myriad problems that lawyers encounter when trying to manage exhibits while using generic video conference tools for a deposition. It saves lawyers the complicated effort of devising elaborate protocols and procedures for how to mark, share, and review exhibits with witnesses, opposing counsel, and court reporters. And it is designed and built with exhibit review and marking tools that are fully integrated into the web-based interface.
With the leading virtual deposition software, documents and exhibits can be uploaded ahead of time or in real-time to share with any relevant party. Access to documents can be restricted to certain users unless and until their owner decides to share them. All exhibits brought into the record during a virtual deposition can be stamped according to case-specific document marking requirements. They can also be highlighted or annotated by attorneys to focus a witness on key passages. And they’re immediately downloadable for the authorized participants upon the conclusion of the deposition.
- AI-Enhanced Transcription
Top virtual deposition solutions incorporate artificial intelligence (AI) into their transcription technology. Lawyers taking or defending the deposition have the option of seeing a real-time voice-to-text draft transcription feed, which they can refer to when formulating follow-up questions or lodging objections.
The same AI-enhanced technology provides lawyers with access to a rough draft transcript of the deposition within minutes of its conclusion. And the software gives lawyers the ability to order certified transcripts, reviewed and corrected for accuracy by the court reporter, in any hard-copy or digital format they need for use in their jurisdiction.
- High-Quality Videography
Litigators have long recognized the immense evidentiary value of deposition videography. The leading virtual deposition solutions make it easy to create high-quality videography of witness examinations for use in pleadings or the courtroom. Lawyers can decide when to start and stop video and audio recordings of a session.
The software syncs video, audio, and text feeds so that clips of questions and answers are clear and have overlaid transcript text to enhance accuracy and impact. And the virtual deposition solution provider may even offer lawyers access to professional videographers who can compile footage in any manner the lawyer deems most persuasive. Lawyers get everything they need for capturing and using deposition videography on a single, integrated platform.
Technical Requirement for Success with Virtual Deposition Software
To use deposition software effectively, you need to meet a few straightforward tech requirements. All participants need:
- A device for accessing the platform, such as a desktop, laptop, tablet, or smartphone.
- A stable, reasonably fast internet connection.
- A web camera and a microphone.
The lawyer organizing proceedings will also need everyone’s email addresses and other basic contact information.
Even the best software cannot prevent lags and outages that result from participants failing to meet minimum tech requirements or from participants misunderstanding how the software works. For that reason, it’s advisable for participants to do a test run of the software and to try out its features prior to a deposition. Quality remote deposition solutions are intuitive and user-friendly, so simple preparatory steps usually don’t take very long, and they frequently serve to put participants at ease when they’re new to the virtual format.
Virtual Depositions are the New Normal
One thing is certain: the world is bound to become increasingly comfortable with conducting all manner of business remotely. As that comfort grows, we expect the adoption of virtual deposition software to accelerate. In fact, most of the country already has access to and familiarity with the technology driving the move to remote depositions.
In other words, virtual depositions are here to stay. They offer a far greater level of convenience and access to witnesses than in-person depositions ever could. And they can be far more cost-effective when lawyers use a leading virtual deposition solution to schedule, prepare for, conduct, and record them.
Get in Touch with the Future of Remote Deposition Software
The benefits and use cases of remote deposition software are well on their way to reshaping litigation forever. It’s time to leave generic video conferencing platforms behind and enter a new era of future-focused, purpose-built remote deposition tools and services. When you use the right all-in-one platform, it’s easy to take and defend depositions using technology that’s equally useful in arbitrations and mediations.
Remote Legal offers a virtual deposition solution purpose-built for litigators. It’s the only virtual deposition solution in the industry that also provides court reporters and certified transcripts. Our platform provides scheduling capabilities, case and exhibit management, virtual deposition rooms and private breakout rooms, automated witness-only legal video, AI transcription, and all the tools a lawyer needs for a successful deposition experience. Schedule a demo today.
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