The Difference Between Rough Draft vs. Certified Deposition Transcripts and What You Should Know


The legal industry has been busy driving immense changes since the events of 2020, and that includes shifting legal and administrative proceedings to virtual formats. Though their efforts haven’t received a high public profile, they’ve been no less explicit, even including a court technology paper endorsed by Chief Justices and State Judges, explaining that pandemic fears were “not the disruption courts wanted, but the disruption courts needed.”

As a result, court hearings and depositions throughout the pandemic and in the days after began occurring more frequently through popular video chat platforms. That said, many firms found that this format was not an ideal solution and didn’t meet the needs of their firm when it came to security and all the specialized needs of a legal deposition

Not least among these specialized needs was the deposition transcript. While some cases needed a certified deposition transcript, others could get by with just a rough draft — and some could get by with a rough draft but needed the option for a certified version later on. Regardless, this was another detail — among many — that firms needed to plan in advance to successfully obtain in their remote proceedings.

Today, more firms are transitioning to remote depositions held on specialized legal video conferencing platforms created by industry professionals experienced in both legal processes and software-as-a-service (SaaS) technologies. In this article, we’ll cover how a deposition transcript can be improved through innovative legal videoconference platforms and how it affects the use-case scenarios for certified and uncertified deposition transcripts.

The Value of a Reliable Yet Flexible Deposition Transcript

When an attorney motions to depose a witness, it can often take a full day’s time and expense, both for the witness and the practicing attorneys. They must arrange for the most competent court reporters they can find because when it comes to court records, a deposition can make or break a case.

This calls into question a number of critical issues that must be considered with painstaking care:

  • The efficiency of the transcript;
  • The reliability of the recording;
  • The effectiveness of the technical process;
  • The expediency of timing and scheduling.

Timing in particular must be planned for just the right moment, most often when the defense or prosecution has used their other discovery options. In such cases, speed is of the essence, and it’s not unheard of for previously unknown information to inspire a crucial last-minute deposition. 

Whether done traditionally or remotely, it’s essential to evaluate whether the method used can provide an accurate and timely deposition and deposition transcript.

Certified or Rough Draft Deposition Transcript — Making the Decision

A certified deposition transcript is often not necessary in the course of a case because a professionally produced rough draft fulfills the purpose the attorney needed it for: for example, knowing which new strategies or questions to adopt mid-case. While it’s possible the deposition transcript itself becomes crucial evidence that the case depends on, more often than not, its purpose is purely informative to the attorney.

Any time a lawyer makes a motion they have to cite the transcription, and that’s only allowable with a certified transcript. However, not all depositions will result in a motion. Because many cases settle before trial, it’s entirely possible the deposition will never even make it to court. The best option is to maintain flexibility, and that is only possible with advanced digital deposition tools that allow you discretion over whether and when to purchase a certified copy.

Even for cases going all the way to trial, unless the information needed for a court submission was exclusive to the deposition, there may be alternative admissible records. If the rough draft simply helped to recall important information readily available elsewhere, you can avoid the need to submit a certified deposition transcript with a judge. 

In the event a certified transcript is necessary, it can be difficult to receive one in a timely mannerdue to the increased effort required. This is only true, however, of previous methods, and a feature-rich deposition platform vastly simplifies both certified and uncertified deposition processes.

Related: What Is Remote Deposition Software?

Deposition Transcripts Enter a Brave New World

Thanks to new technologies, law firms today are able to conduct remote depositions far more easily than in the past, and this is bringing with it improved efficiency and effectiveness in a firm’s proceedings, including in how depositions are produced. All the tools a firm needs can be found in one platform at an affordable cost, saving both time and money on every deposition. 

A Single, Feature-Rich Application

Now, remote depositions are more streamlined and functional than ever before. Using a dedicated, feature-rich deposition platform built by experienced legal professionals, firms can have access to every service they need in a one-stop-shop format, freeing them from having to plan and organize multiple individual services such as court reporting, videography, exhibit presentations, and more.

Using the advanced tech found in these legal platforms, attorneys can now have a complete rough draft of the deposition in hand shortly after it ends. Knowing this, the attorney can focus on the questions and responses during the deposition itself, undistracted by worries about the court reporter or the technology and making further decisions about the transcript after the fact.

Flexibility of Choice

In many circumstances, a certified transcript is a cost that is unnecessary unless the attorney wants to file a motion with it, and a searchable rough draft is perfectly sufficient to help a legal team plan its approach. In this way, A legally-built remote deposition platform that includes a rough draft in its services helps save on costs.

In a notable number of cases, this fully searchable and digitized transcript allows the attorney to analyze the most relevant elements of the deposition at will. It makes it much easier to accomplish their goals, and without needing to pay for an extra work product. 

The right deposition platform eliminates the need to order a certified transcript upfront when there’s no reason to. You can wait until the utility of the rough draft reaches its limit and then decide.

When a certified transcript is in fact necessary, a remote deposition platform should be able to send automatic notifications as soon as the certified transcript is available, and a platform run by experienced court reporters can shorten that time to as little as 6 days. Flexibility is what attorneys need most, and for deposition records, this method is quickly becoming an essential tool.

Secured Records for Now or Later

Most principally, a deposition platform will keep deposition records and transcripts accessible and more secure, especially compared to mainstream video platforms not built for the nuanced requirements of a remote deposition. Legal firms are held to high standards for protecting client information at all costs. For security and other improvements in video-based court procedures, a platform built for remote depositions is the answer.

Preserving Deposition Accuracy

As officers of the court, one of the most mission-critical issues court reporters face is the need to keep uncertified drafts of deposition transcripts clearly marked as such. The proper procedure for keeping uncertified rough drafts out of official court filings begins with the court reporter, as outlined in Section III of the National Court Reporters Association’s guidelines for professional practice.

To protect the record, a disclaimer must be included with uncertified deposition transcripts. One of the easiest ways to ensure this is through a user-friendly deposition platform, which can automate more routine yet essential documentation requirements. Even the most diligent stenographer can perform all of these functions more efficiently if they have the proper tools to do so from the outset.

With the proper platform and a single click, their deposition drafts can also have the proper notification inserted into the headers and footers, protecting the integrity of the records even if a separate disclaimer/cover letter is removed or lost. Again, this is most often not required — but when it is, a single streamlined platform that supports these features without the need for third-party applications is ideal.To maintain focus on the deposition itself, the stenographer needs a resource that inspires total confidence in its capacity to maintain higher accuracy with or without a certified transcript. With a feature-rich court reporting application, that resource is here.

Related: Stenographic and Digital Court Reporters vs Digital Recordings – What’s the Difference?

What Features Should You Look for to Simplify the Deposition and Transcript Process?

The most cutting-edge deposition platforms streamline the entire deposition with a synthesis of user-friendliness and feature-rich utility. For example, easy and upfront scheduling systems are built right into the deposition platform, ensuring administrative matters are maintained reliably in the background. A web-based platform should also be accessible anywhere on demand. 

Deposition platforms should facilitate and address a full suite of legal processes, including:

  • Videography and audio recording;
  • Automated transcriptions;
  • Witness-only recordings;
  • Exhibits;
  • Notary public services;
  • Overall case management;
  • The virtual deposition space itself.

Because these depositions are, of course, performed virtually, they can be set up in minutes with the right platform, allowing businesses and persons of interest to reserve a virtual deposition room and book the services of a competent court reporter with simplicity and expediency.

The best virtual deposition platforms include court reportingservices, giving users access to not just the tools but also the experts needed for an accurate and effective transcript after the fact. Such platforms streamline the management of both uncertified and certified transcripts, keeping them automatically demarcated as needed. 

Transcript Flexibility and Much More Relies on the Right Remote Deposition Platform

Remote Legal knows firsthand that the quality of a deposition transcript depends on having all effective tools readily available to the court reporter. With a streamlined platform that offers court reporting, HD witness video, fully-featured exhibit options, immediately available transcripts, and much more, deposition recordings can be effectively and efficiently managed before, during and after the deposition itself, regardless of the needs of your case. To witness the power of Remote Legal in your own use-case scenarios, get started today.

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