The History and Evolution of Remote Legal Depositions

Remote legal depositions are not something new that arrived only because we were dealing with a pandemic. In fact, remote depositions had been available for nearly a decade before COVID-19. The fact is that remote depositions were nearly always considered a tool of last resort rather than a preferred option.

This changed dramatically during COVID-19. Not only were more people working at home, but it became more commonplace for court proceedings to be held remotely. This created quite a  challenge for many law firms, as they were forced to scramble to find solutions that would allow them to remain active during COVID. Over time, inefficient methods of “getting the job done” via multiple, complex or insufficient avenues would lead to more advanced technology built just for remote depositions. 

Challenges With Remote Legal Depositions

During the pandemic, we learned that many available video conferencing solutions lacked the security necessary to preserve the privacy and integrity of legal depositions. Mainstream platforms like Zoom also required having a stenographer, who may or may not have been participating in the conference, transcribing the information gathered. This also created room for additional errors. It is no wonder the legal profession had several challenges to overcome during the COVID-19 pandemic.

There are many things that are out of our control when using remote tools, including hiccups with video conferencing software. Interruptions caused by minor system glitches, inconsistent audio technology, which can hamper the comprehension of a speaker’s dialogue, and, more importantly, the security issues common to mainstream video conferencing platforms, are just some of the issues that must be considered.

Despite these potential issues, some attorneys found that using remote legal depositions allowed them to get testimony they might not otherwise have obtained because people were more comfortable and relaxed in their homes. This is an added bonus for many law firms and may encourage others to rely more heavily on remote depositions in the future.

Related: How Popular Are Remote Depositions After The Covid Pandemic?

Despite the overall challenges, one thing was clear: law firms learned that, with the right technology, they were able to take advantage of the significant benefits of remote legal depositions. As a primary solution, industry-built platforms began to emerge. These systems allowed for streamlining the deposition process and made it worthwhile by addressing some of the challenges that remote proceedings initially presented. 

How Remote Legal Depositions Address the Challenges Facing Legal Firms

Remote legal depositions offer several benefits to law firms and lawyers. They help overcome some of the challenges associated with taking in-person depositions, including:

  • Location Challenges — taking testimony from witnesses in person often meant extensive travel because not all witnesses were in a central area. Lawyers were forced to travel to numerous locations. Remote depositions allow participants to join from any location with internet access, streamlining the process and increasing access to potential witnesses.
  • Financial Challenges — traveling around the country not only consumes unnecessary time but is also a costly means of securing evidence or statements. One of the benefits of remote depositions is that multiple witnesses can give depositions in less time, without expensive travel or the need to coordinate a meeting space, complete with  other professionals like a court reporter or videographer.
  • Time Challenges — Travel time is wasted time. Being able to work with multiple witnesses in a single day, or based on availability, not only saves time but allows legal professionals, as well as deponents, to participate in the process efficiently. Even when travel is not a concern, remote deposition platforms that include all the necessary tools for a deposition, including a built-in court reporter, can save substantial time and planning for firms over the long term.

New technology designed with legal proceedings in mind is what has allowed firms to take advantage of remote depositions, successfully addressing these challenges. With the benefit of legal-built video conferencing technology, lawyers, witnesses, and court reporters can have more flexibility when dealing with legal depositions. 

No longer is it necessary for everyone to be sitting in the same room—or even the same building—for a successful, efficient remote deposition to occur. Technology also allows a great deal of flexibility in scheduling, often reducing the need to rearrange other conflicts and obligations.

Now that the country is on the “other side” of the pandemic, more firms are considering the additional benefits ass ociated with remote legal depositions and taking advantage of new technology specifically designed for the legal field.

The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, specifically Rule 30, provide lawyers with the guidance they need to successfully incorporate remote depositions into their practice. This clarification has made it easier for attorneys to take advantage of the potential cost savings and other benefits associated with the use of technology.

The Future of Remote Legal Depositions

The prevalence of working remotely, the shortage of court stenographers, and the clear benefits of taking depositions remotely mean that more law firms will embrace new technology and find the solution that works best for them. Fortunately, industry-specific solutions may also offer additional benefits for law firms, including not having to worry about the availability of court reporters.

Related: The Future of Digital Court Reporting

Overcoming any lingering reluctance of legal professionals to embrace remote depositions means presenting solutions that address the concerns that prevented them from using such options prior to the pandemic (or the concerns they encountered while using mainstream platforms during the pandemic). 

It also means adding value, such as having high-quality resolution video and audio that are in sync with each other, allowing quick access to transcripts, working with court reporters capable of managing the technology, and having an optimal platform that allows sharing, annotating, and streamlining of exhibits.

The development of industry-specific platforms is making the entire deposition process easier and more convenient for all parties involved. Rather than managing video conferencing software and finding other ways to distribute and mark necessary documents and exhibits, all-inclusive platforms allow attorneys to access everything in one location. Legal-specific tools, such as private folders, AI-based transcription synchronized with video, and deposition summary pages, can make each experience as effective as in-person proceedings.

Every law firm will have different needs. Mediation, civil law, family law, and criminal law practices each have specific goals when they enter into the discovery process. Having accurate and timely access to witness statements and exhibits is important to ensure the legal process moves forward. Therefore, having the right remote legal deposition solution at the disposal of a law firm is imperative to making the process work effectively.

Finding The Right Remote Legal Deposition Solution

Today, the right technology exists for attorneys who wish to make the transition to remote legal depositions. Not only is the technology secure, but it is designed with a firm’s legal needs at the forefront. This means more law firms can take advantage of the time and money savings that remote depositions offer. 

Simple scheduling, simple pricing, and expert remote court reporters, along with instant exhibit uploading, marking and annotating of exhibits, and much more, allow a law firm to mirror the in-person deposition feeling. 

If you’re ready to take advantage of the ability to perform truly efficient remote depositions, Remote Legal can help. Learn more about the services we offer and start streamlining your deposition process today by contacting us to see how it works. 

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