When global pandemic shutdowns were instituted in 2020, many lawyers turned to remote depositions as one of the few viable options for keeping the court system moving. As explained by the American Bar Association, what was once considered a Band-Aid to pull the court system through pandemic shutdowns quickly became part of standard operating procedure in the legal industry. Around 83 percent of all lawyers now expect at least one party in all future proceedings to participate in the court process remotely.
Remote depositions can provide a number of distinct advantages, particularly as the nation experiences a significant shortage of court reporters which can result in delays during the discovery process. Being able to eliminate the time and travel that is often required when conducting in-person depositions is one of the beauties of this new normal.
Why Would You Want to Consider Remote Deposition?
A deposition is a part of the discovery phase of a trial in which each side has the opportunity to review the evidence and interview witnesses who will be testifying for the other side. When requesting a deposition, you are responsible for finding a venue in order for this out-of-court testimony to take place, in addition to arranging a court reporter to create a transcript of the proceedings and in some cases, a legal authority who can video record the deposition. These costs add up, leaving clients and their attorneys making tough choices as to whether the deposition is crucial to the case.
A remote deposition is one in which the participants are in different locations and are attending the proceeding by telephone or video conference. While completely remote depositions remain somewhat rare — with some of the parties often choosing to attend the proceeding in person while others participate by telephone or video conference — having at least some of the parties to a legal dispute appear remotely has become common course.
The Advantages of Remote Depositions
There are a number of benefits to remote depositions, including the following:
In-person depositions result in certain costs that can be avoided through a remote deposition, such as the cost of travel and accommodations for witnesses who do not live in the area, the cost of renting a conference room in which to hold the deposition, court reporter and videographer fees, and the cost of the attorney’s services while depositions are being taken.
Consolidation of Work Product
Remote depositions provide benefits in all three phases of the deposition. During the pre-deposition phase, you will have the opportunity to prepare the room and upload exhibits. During the deposition experience, you have the option to capture the witness’ audio and video as well as audio for all participants, while also taking advantage of four private breakout rooms that are off the record.
In the post-deposition phase, you will have the conveniences of downloading digital copies of all exhibits, as well as having immediate access to a rough deposition transcript, access to the video of the proceeding in around half an hour, and a list of attendees. You will be notified when new documents and work product are available to be accessed from the remote deposition.
Avoiding the Difficulty of Finding a Court Reporter
Across the nation, there is a shortage of court reporters as more people in this industry reach retirement age and not enough new court reporters are entering the industry to keep up with demand. Attorneys who are still expecting to conduct all of their depositions in person are likely to encounter difficulties in obtaining a reporter for the proceedings. Remote depositions have improved the capacity of court reporters and have provided the opportunity for depositions to be conducted on schedule.
Avoiding Last-Minute Schedule Changes
If the pandemic has taught us all anything, it has taught us that even the best-planned schedule can change on a dime. Many depositions have been canceled or postponed because someone was diagnosed with COVID-19 or the rules for quarantines and isolation suddenly changed. Remote depositions eliminate many of the reasons why depositions get canceled by enabling the participants to participate at home, from two states away, or even from the other side of the world.
Better Alignment with the New Attitudes About Working
During the pandemic, many professionals — including attorneys and their legal teams — were sent home to work. While it all seemed rather new and frightening at first, the idea of having the type of work-life balance that working from home can afford became something workers weren’t prepared to let go of, even after shutdowns began to ease.
According to post-pandemic surveys, around 92 percent of workers are now working from home at least one day a week. 80 percent expect to work from home at least three days a week. Nearly 60 percent of workers stated that they would be more likely to choose an employer who offered remote work than one that didn’t.
As more people work from home and it continues to be an important option, the adoption of remote technologies is becoming not only more acceptable but the preferred way of doing business.
As noted, in-person depositions require the rental of a conference room, the hiring of a court reporter and videographer, and everyone who needs to be at the deposition to be available at the same place and at the same time. When the deposition is over, additional challenges are often faced when attempting to access the transcript or the video.
Remote deposition services using a legal-first platform can provide features like instant access to a transcript rough draft, the opportunity to easily upload exhibits, and find all of the documentation for the deposition on a single screen. The services should be customizable so that if you do not need to have a certified transcript, you do not have to pay for one either.
Getting the Most Out of Remote Depositions
With all of the benefits that having the ability to depose witnesses remotely provides, are there any downsides? There certainly can be if you do not choose the right platform on which to conduct remote depositions. Here are five tips for getting the most out of your remote depositions or — at the very least — avoiding some of the common pitfalls that lead to frustration.
- Choose a legal-first remote deposition platform. Simply finding a videoconferencing platform doesn’t satisfy the legal requirements that enable depositions to be taken remotely. All parties need to have access to the transcript, a listing of the attendees, and other formalities that will not necessarily be satisfied except through a platform specifically designed for the legal industry.
- In order to avoid having the first several minutes of the deposition taken up with trying to figure out how to work the equipment, you should take a test run and make sure you understand the ins and outs of the platform.
- Be aware of the unintentional sharing of confidential information and how your platform of choice addresses that. With the right platform — intended for legal purposes only — privacy and security are built in.
- Ensure that the remote deposition platform you’re using provides the option to record the testimony, particularly the ability to video record witnesses who will not be able to make it to trial, as video depositions of absent witnesses are admissible in court.
- Avoid technical difficulties during the remote deposition by helping all participants understand the importance of a strong connection and using a remote platform that also provides a remote court reporter who is capable of troubleshooting technical obstacles.
Related: 5 Top Tips for Remote Depostions
Finding the Best Platform for Your Remote Depositions
The best platform for conducting remote depositions is one that bundles all of the best features available on a legal-first remote depositions platform for an affordable price. Some of the features include:
- An electronic or digital reporter who serves as a videographer, tech expert, and notary.
- Pre-loadable exhibit storage. Keep your exhibits private until you are ready to share.
- The ability to upload exhibits instantly, on the fly.
- Timestamped witness video capture in HD, available immediately.
- Secure sidebar rooms for private discussions with your client.
- Screen sharing.
- Fast, free, searchable AI-transcribed rough drafts.
- A certified transcript in 5-7 days if needed, and a reduced fee if you do not need the certified transcript.
- Transcript-less depositions, with the option of obtaining the transcript at any time after the deposition, even many months later.
- Security and compliance via an encrypted network, storage, and streaming services.
For convenience, consolidation, and timeliness, remote deposition services from Remote Legal provide all of the advantages of the latest technology and changes in attitudes about remote work while also offering you the privacy, security of information, and ease of use that you need to transition from in-person depositions. Contact us today to get started with your remote deposition.
See Remote Legal in Action
Let us show you our single source solution so you can get back to doing the things you love.