Many industries have adopted new remote work policies that allow people to do their jobs without commuting to a physical workspace, and the legal industry is no exception. These days, remote depositions are happening more frequently, causing judges and attorneys to adapt to a new normal of remote work. Some people really enjoy the remote format, others not so much. In truth, there are some pros and cons to remote depositions, and that will be the focus of this article.
There are many pros and cons to remote depositions that need to be considered. Let’s go over all of that to understand when and why the remote format works well for a deposition and why some people are not fond of conducting these sorts of proceedings online.
Pros of Remote Depositions
There are certainly some great benefits to remote depositions, particularly for attorneys. It’s much more convenient to attend meetings when you don’t need to travel anywhere physically, and it’s also nice to have all the case files in one safe place so that they can be easily accessed when you need them.
Most importantly, remote depositions allow attorneys to be more productive because they can attend more meetings in a day. Let’s take a closer look and see why many people are in favor of keeping remote depositions in the post-pandemic era.
Perhaps the most obvious benefit you’ll find when evaluating the pros and cons to remote depositions is it’s much easier and significantly more convenient for everyone involved when there is no need to travel to court in person. By being able to carry out the deposition from home, people will be much more relaxed, relieving anxiety and facilitating the process in a much more ideal and comfortable setting. When people are relaxed, they are also much less defensive, which can result in smoother proceedings when conducting a virtual or remote deposition.
Another significant benefit of remote depositions is that they allow all exhibits, including documents, transcripts, videos, and so on, to be readily available and easily accessible to all parties on one platform. Having digital copies of the files is also a huge plus, as it greatly reduces the possibility of something being lost or otherwise misplaced.
Also, when all files are available in one convenient place, there is no need to fax, mail, or email all of the files back and forth between legal teams. There is complete transparency, and everyone can see everything, so the cards are on the table, which may be good or bad depending on the deposition’s unique circumstances.
At the end of the day, because attorneys don’t need to physically travel anywhere to attend a remote deposition, they can attend more proceedings throughout the day, leading to increased revenue thanks to the influx of more billable hours than would otherwise be available to them if they had to travel across town multiple times a day to attend other legal proceedings.
The increased efficiency may also allow judges to get through more cases in a day, which can unclog the legal system in some situations. If remote depositions become the norm, the odds of having a proceeding rescheduled due to time constraints will likely diminish, meaning that more cases will be resolved rapidly.
This is also a massive benefit for non-legal people involved in remote depositions because they can fulfill their obligation of attending the proceeding regardless of where they happen to be. When the proceeding is concluded, they can resume their normal day without commuting home from a courthouse.
The Cons of Remote Depositions
Although remote depositions are convenient, provide easy access to files, and allow lawyers to be more productive throughout the day, some drawbacks are inherent to the trend. For the most part, the pros of remote depositions outweigh the cons, but we should still look at the downsides of the format just so you’re aware of the limitations.
Video conferencing platforms are not built for legal proceedings and, as such, give rise to a couple of problems. Accidental screen sharing is a real issue that can lead to embarrassment and adversely affect the proceeding.
Remote depositions can also be an issue for court reporters who have a nearly impossible task when working virtually. Most video conferencing platforms are more or less unstable, which can sometimes cause headaches, not to mention potential security complications.
Let’s look at the cons of remote depositions to understand why some people have had problems with this format.
Platforms aren’t built for it
Unless the deposition is being held over a platform built explicitly for depositions, which is very unlikely to be the case, it may be difficult to send files confidentially, which means sending documents via email, which is tedious. Platforms like zoom were never intended to be used for legal proceedings and, as such, leave much to be desired.
Screensharing is terrible
Screensharing has become a major problem for people. The issue is that video conferencing software is notoriously confusing, and people often expose things they did not intend to without even realizing it. Sometimes people accidentally share their browser history, private photos, and so on. Still, the bigger issue is the potential to accidentally show or disclose files detrimental to the deposition.
You might not think screen sharing is a big deal, but if you ask anyone who has spent any significant amount of time in virtual meetings, they will tell you to be extra careful anytime you share your screen with anyone. Double-check that no personal information is showing up on your screen and that your web browser is currently closed before launching the deposition.
It causes problems for the court reporter
Another drawback is that remote depositions are sometimes troublesome for the court reporter to deal with. The court reporter has to manage all of the various privileges, files shared, and live screens. In most cases, the court reporter is also the stenographer, and it’s almost impossible to type, manage the computer, save and sort files, and facilitate all other aspects of a legal proceeding when their hands are otherwise already occupied.
For these reasons, there is the potential for things to be missed, omitted, or otherwise mismanaged simply because the court reporter can’t possibly do all of these different things simultaneously, which seems to be the requirement in these sorts of remote proceedings.
Most video conferencing platforms are unstable
Even some of the best platforms for remote depositions aren’t ideal because they are unstable, and ease of access is a major issue. The majority of such platforms require you to download and install software, which can be impossible for those who aren’t computer literate. To date, there are only a few good video conferencing software specifically designed for legal proceedings, and only one that we recommend – more on that in a minute.
The Verdict on Remote Depositions
There are some pros and cons to remote depositions, but all things considered, it looks as though they may be here to stay, which is a good thing because there are many benefits to conducting depositions virtually in this way. Remote depositions are convenient for everyone, they allow all authorized parties to easily access case files, exhibits, and media, and they help attorneys make more money by increasing the number of billable hours they can work in a day.
That said, there are some cons to remote depositions. Many video conferencing platforms are clunky, feature a poor UI/UX, are prone to exposing things that were not intended to be shared, cause problems for court reporters, and are more or less unstable; most video conferencing platforms are like this, but not all of them. There is already one platform that is excellent for remote depositions, which makes sense because it was built specifically for that purpose – Let’s take a look at that now.
The Best Remote Deposition Platform
Remote Legal is, without a doubt, one of the best remote deposition platforms. The platform allows exhibits to be loaded during the deposition, it has tools for court reporters to record, mark, and annotate the proceeding, and it even allows you to capture witness video from within the platform.
Best of all, there is no download required, meaning that most people with a computer will be able to attend the deposition without there being many ease-of-access issues. If you want to start conducting or attending remote depositions, then be sure to try a demo of Remote Legal.