Remote depositions have increased substantially in popularity over the past couple of years. In some cases, you might choose that option for your clients. In other cases, you may have it chosen for you due to convenience or the requirement of the court system. Regardless of your reason for selecting a remote deposition option, however, you want to ensure that your clients are prepared to thrive.
Why are Remote Depositions on the Rise?
Remote depositions began to rise in popularity during the early days of the pandemic when health regulations suspended many in-person legal proceedings due to transmission concerns. Even with many in-person services resuming, many people still prefer the convenience of conducting activities virtually, including depositions. Remote depositions can offer several advantages, including:
- Enhanced convenience for lawyers, witnesses, and more, since people can dial in wherever they are.
- Help address the court reporter shortage since you can access court reporters from anywhere to help with your remote depositions.
- More accessible document storage and retrieval may lead to improved case management.
Many lawyers have found that remote legal depositions are more practical and convenient than in-person conducting those procedures. As a result, they continue to choose that option even when they have the means to conduct depositions in person. You may want to mix remote depositions with in-person options to help maximize convenience for your clients.
How to Prepare Your Clients for Remote Depositions
Preparing your clients for a remote deposition is a vital part of the process. You want your clients to be informed and comfortable with the technology and the setting. With these tips, you can help prepare your clients and make them more comfortable.
1. Make sure your client is familiar with the technology.
Many remote deposition platforms are easy to use, with an intuitive design that makes it as simple as possible for your clients to log in. However, you may want to take the time to make sure your client is comfortable with the technology before the deposition. Have your client practice logging in and using any tools that will be in use during the testimony, including microphone and chat options. Point out whether the platform offers a break-out or private chat for lawyers and their clients, which your client can use to communicate privately with you if necessary, and practice using it so that your client will know how to keep those questions or comments private.
As you prepare your client for a remote deposition, consider whether that preparation is best done in-person or virtually. If your client is far from you, you may prefer to conduct your preparation process efficiently. You might need to set aside more time to walk your client through all the technology and features, give them a better idea of what to expect, and ensure that all technology works smoothly. On the other hand, if your client is local, you may find it more practical to bring them into your office to help walk them through the virtual deposition process.
Go over details like:
- Speaking steadily and clearly, the court reporter and any AI transcription technology can pick up the full text.
- The best way to set up the camera properly for maximum visibility. Discuss lighting, including ensuring light hits the client’s face instead of putting them in shadow.
- Screen setup. You want your witness to clearly see the people who matter most to them: the questioning attorney and you, as their legal representative.
- Removing items from the video frame that could prove distracting. For example, you may want to guide clients to clear the clutter away from the area to help reduce visual distraction or to remove items that could distract them during the process.
- How to interact with any evidence or exhibits on the screen if your witness will need to refer back to any of them during the deposition.
A solid understanding of the technology introduced during the virtual deposition process can help the deposition proceed more smoothly, saving time and helping your witness handle the process more effectively.
2. Test that your client has the right equipment to make the remote deposition technology work for them.
For remote deposition technology to work effectively, your witness will need:
- The right software installed or access to the virtual platform.
- A camera.
- A microphone.
In some cases, your witness may be able to connect to the deposition via mobile phone. However, that will leave your witness with a much smaller screen, making it more challenging to interact with exhibits or see you when they need to connect with you. Before moving forward with the remote deposition, ensure your client has the right equipment and that everything is in working order.
3. Remind your client of the rules of dressing professionally for a deposition.
As you prepare for your remote deposition, talk with your client about the importance of dressing professionally. You want your client to put their best foot forward to appear trustworthy, professional, and competent. The personal presentation can make a big difference.
Remind your client that they may want to dress for a remote deposition just like they would if they were in the courtroom—including the importance of pants. In many cases, people assume that, since their entire body will not be visible at the deposition, they can get away with only wearing clothing that will show on camera. However, many things can expose the rest of your client’s body to the camera, from a dropped item to a visitor in the room. Dressing appropriately from head to toe can help protect against unwanted incidents. It may also help your client feel more confident.
4. Discuss protocols for privacy during the deposition.
When you’re conducting a deposition in the office or a courtroom, it’s much easier to control precisely who has access to the witness. During a remote testimony, however, it can prove much more complicated to ensure that the witness maintains the privacy the deposition requires. Talk to your client about:
- Shutting down email and other programs to ensure that they have no interruptions during the deposition process.
- Turning off cell phones and leaving them out of the room.
- Who can be physically in the room during the deposition process. In many cases, it may be better if the witness is alone in the room, with no interruptions or others present.
You may also want to discuss from where the witness will join the deposition ahead of time. You want your witness to be in a comfortable location, where they will feel more at home and less pressured, but you also want them to be in a place where they can expect a reasonable degree of privacy. Roommates, children, and other interruptions can interfere with the deposition process and make the witness feel more self-conscious, or decrease the level of honesty you might receive during the proceedings, so privacy could prove essential.
Related: 5 Top Tips for Remote Depositions
5. Go over procedures, so your client knows what to expect.
As with an in-person deposition, you should plan to go over protocols with your witness before the testimony. Ensure your witness knows how the proceedings will go and what to expect during the process. A prepared witness will often be much less nervous and better prepared to answer questions and handle the deposition process more effectively. Make sure your client understands:
- How they will be sworn in remotely. Often, the court reporter on the platform will take care of that process.
- What questions they will need to answer.
- How exhibits will be presented, including how you will present items that have already been uploaded into the system. Explain what may be required if exhibits have to be uploaded during the deposition process.
Remember that while you may have gone through remote depositions multiple times in the past, your client may not have had that experience. Your client might not have been through any legal proceedings, making every step of the process new to them. By walking your client through the process and procedures ahead of time, you can help prepare them to give an effective remote deposition.
Are you looking for a remote deposition solution?
Using the right video deposition technology can go a long way toward ensuring you can handle the process smoothly. At Remote Legal, we offer legal-first court reporting and virtual deposition options that can help streamline your deposition and provide better insights into your client’s needs. Contact us today to learn more.
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