For a business litigator, there’s little daylight between getting the job done right and getting it done on budget. That’s just the nature of the game. Business litigation clients often pay by the hour for legal services. They want their problems solved quickly and at minimum expense. Seasoned business litigators know that it might not be enough to win your case if you want to avoid a costly fee dispute with a client. You have to win efficiently.
Recent innovations in legal tech make virtual depositions a natural fit for business litigators and their bottom-line-conscious clients. Today’s remote video deposition platforms can save business lawyers time and money without jeopardizing the quality of their work product. Here’s how.
Common Challenges of Business Dispute Depositions
What happens in a deposition can make or break a business dispute. And that means it can affect the future of an enterprise. But despite the high stakes, business litigation lawyers routinely encounter resistance from their clients and opponents when it comes to scheduling, taking, and defending depositions. Objections to depositions commonly focus on, for example:
- The number of depositions requested
- The need to travel to depositions
- Lawyer time spent preparing to take or defend a deposition
- Interruption of the deponent’s work day to prepare or sit for a deposition
By and large, these objections tend to stem from parties’ antipathy toward spending time and money on discovery. Business litigation is expensive, and depositions constitute a major (if unavoidable) cost escalator. To keep their clients happy, lawyers must do everything possible not to waste time or money. Even the perception of inefficiency can sour the attorney-client relationship.
Past Headwinds for Remote Depositions in Business Litigations
If a remote deposition can save lawyers and parties time and money, it should be a no-brainer in business litigation. But historically—much to commercial clients’ consternation—taking a remote deposition meant sacrificing quality to gain efficiency. The answer to clients’ perennial question “Can’t you just take a deposition by phone?” was always “We could, but it wouldn’t be as effective.”
Even once office video conferencing systems became affordable, risk-averse business litigation lawyers tended to view remote depositions mostly as a secondary option appropriate only for minor witnesses or compressed discovery timetables.
Then came the pandemic, which confronted every business lawyer with a classic Hobson’s Choice: depose witnesses remotely, or don’t depose them at all. Most opted for the remote option, albeit with decidedly mixed results. Early Covid-era depositions happened over Zoom or similar generic video conferencing platforms. While these platforms were convenient for connecting people from afar, they did little else to facilitate taking potentially crucial testimony. Attorneys and witnesses had to contend with the sort of technical glitches and human errors that dogged everyone who tried to hold meetings online during that period.
They also found it disconcertingly difficult to accomplish tasks that would have happened automatically at an in-person deposition. Marking and sharing exhibits during the flow of questioning meant following pre-agreed to, complex protocols for emailing documents or posting them to a shared cloud server. The need for attorneys to talk to their clients led to repeated pauses in a session to take a conversation offline. Audio lags and automatic muting made it difficult to lodge timely objections.
Plus, there weren’t enough court reporters qualified to swear witnesses and record accurate testimony remotely. The same went for videography services. The shortages made scheduling increasingly difficult and cumbersome. Even after you’d lined everyone up, video quality dropped, and the number of spelling errors and omissions in transcripts skyrocketed. Transcript and video delivery times stretched from weeks to months.
In short, nothing about taking remote depositions in the early days of the pandemic seemed particularly efficient or cost-effective. In many cases, business litigators burned more time trying to puzzle through the myriad challenges of taking testimony remotely than they would have spent traveling somewhere to question or defend a deponent in person. Needless to say, the new remote deposition paradigm exacerbated clients’ cost concerns rather than assuaging them.
The Bright Future of Taking Business Dispute Depositions Remotely
Adversity, however, tends to breed innovation. Entrepreneurial court reporters who struggled through those early remote depositions saw an opportunity to develop new tools and services that could help business litigators, in particular, save money without sacrificing quality. Soon, smart remote deposition solutions began to arrive on the market. It was the game-changer business dispute lawyers and their clients had been waiting for.
Today, by using a single-source, purpose-built court reporting platform, business litigation lawyers can take and defend depositions remotely as effectively as they can in person. Better still, they can save their clients money in the process. The leading remote deposition services now offer functional, cost-saving features like:
- All-in-one platforms where litigators and court reporters can accomplish all deposition- related tasks, from the first scheduling steps to the final delivery of transcripts and videography
- Integrated scheduling of court reporters licensed to swear oaths and administer a deposition in any required jurisdiction
- Exhibit pre-uploading and marking
- The ability to upload and mark exhibits on-the-fly during questioning
- A single video, audio, and exhibit-viewing platform for all participants to use
- Reliable, high-quality audio and video streams configured with depositions in mind
- AI-enhanced voice-to-text transcription that permits monitoring questions and answers in real-time
- Virtual breakout rooms for attorneys and clients to use for sidebar discussions
- The option to purchase courtroom-ready videography with transcript text overlaid
- Delivery of draft transcripts shortly after the end of a deposition
- Prompt delivery of final transcripts in any required digital format
Rates for court reporter deliverables purchased via these new platforms compete with—and in most markets, beat—those charged by traditional court reporting agencies. Lawyers also save by not having to travel to a far-off deposition site. And the best platforms make exhibit management so easy, lawyers can even save time in preparing for and conducting questioning.
Business clients directly benefit from these time and cost savings. They also benefit from the scheduling flexibility that remote deposition platforms make possible when it’s their turn on the hot seat. And it also gives clients confidence when they see their attorneys leveraging the same sort of technological advances that frequently drive their own businesses. In a real sense, by streamlining oral discovery, today’s virtual deposition platforms enhance business lawyers’ relationships with their clients and lead to better case outcomes.
Remote Legal is an industry-leading provider of remote deposition services and solutions. Contact us for a demo today to learn how implementing our cutting-edge remote deposition platform can enhance your business litigation practice.
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