The recent pandemic changed the way we live and work. No place is this more relevant than the courts. Both criminal and civil courts faced challenges on all fronts, especially with in-person depositions.
Social distancing to protect against the spread of COVID-19 made in-person appearances virtually impossible. As a result, court calendars experienced unprecedented backlogs as legal professionals scrambled to find solutions.
As the virtual world of computer-screen meetings and court proceedings grew, so did the technology. Today, you can learn more about the best remote deposition platform features, how to best prepare for remote depositions and make new technologies work for you. Here are our best tips for remote depositions:
Tip Number One: Choose a Legal-First Remote Deposition Platform
Our first tip for remote deposition is to choose the right remote deposition platform. While there are plenty of video conferencing and collaboration tools on the market, choosing one that is built for the legal industry will ensure you have the features, functionality and security you need to conduct a remote deposition that rivals an in-person experience.
A deposition requires some or all of the following participants:
- Deposing counsel
- Opposing counsel
- Court reporter
- Interpreter, if necessary
The coordination of the different parties is perhaps one of the most challenging aspects of a deposition. Something that is made significantly easier with remote depositions. While participants don’t need to show up in person to a deposition, you still must coordinate all parties so they can attend the deposition when needed. Participants must also have the documents to proceed with the scheduled event.
Tip Number Two: Practice Using Equipment
Remote depositions are not entirely new; however, how remote depositions work today has evolved well beyond the pre-pandemic video conference depositions of the past. Now that a virtual legal system is likely here to stay, you must prepare witnesses for their remote depositions.
Participating in a remote deposition is different from a Zoom interaction with a family member or friend.
The technology available for remote depositions must be user-friendly. That said, preparing a deponent so that they know what to expect is best for a more favorable outcome.
Poor lighting and audio can gravely affect the deposition. Not being able to see or effectively hear the deponent may result in postponing the deposition to a later time — delaying the progress of your case.
Therefore, practice using the technology in advance, prepare the participants and be sure you use a platform that includes a remote court reporter who can troubleshoot the technology and answer any questions about the platform during the deposition.
Preliminary Instructions for the Participant
Whether or not the participant has experience with depositions, the virtual format is most likely new to them. Answering questions in a home-like setting is much different than in a conference room or courthouse. The potential for outside interference — of any type — is high.
The following advice can remind the participant of the need for their undivided attention:
- Ensure that nobody else is in the room with them.
- Notify the participant they are to inform you if someone enters the room during the deposition.
- Inform the participant they are not to look at anything else while on the record.
- Have the participant agree not to communicate with anyone via text, email, or other methods while on the record.
A distraction-free environment for the deposition is necessary for everyone’s concentration. Unfortunately, most home environments face daily noise challenges and disruptions from children, pets, spouses, and partners. Teaching a participant what to expect and what you expect of them is a proactive step to reducing stress for both of you.
Tip Number Three: Release Fears Regarding Unintentional Sharing
Some generic video conferencing platforms include screen sharing features that can make attorneys and witnesses liable to unintentionally share items on their desktops that they do not intend to broadcast. Because depositions can be about very sensitive topics, they require the protection of confidentiality and privacy best found through secure technology platforms.
With the right remote legal software, you do not have to worry about the unintentional sharing of confidential information. It will not use screen sharing at all. A remote deposition platform that protects you from making a serious mistake affords you invaluable peace of mind.
Tip Number Four: Record, Record, Record
While this tip for remote depositions may seem obvious, not every virtual deposition application and software automatically records, in other words, do not assume that the deposition will exist to playback later.
You must ensure that you or your staff notifies the court reporting company that you would like to record the video of a deposition. You must also notify the opposing counsel involved in the case of such. A recorded deposition is invaluable if the participant cannot attend a trial and for various other reasons. Virtual depositions are live events that, to save, you must use a service that allows you to record the video of the witness only.
Recording a remote deposition is easy and can create valuable evidence should you need the video as part of your case at a later date. However, it is too easy to forget to request that a recording be preserved. Protect your deposition using a virtual deposition software service that includes this critical feature.
Deposition Video That Goes Beyond a Standard Recording
New technologies in the deposition industry do more than just record the witness’s testimony. The following benefits are also possible when using the right remote deposition solution:
- Certified transcripts
- HD audio and video
- Instant rough draft
- Video synchronized to testimony
These and other benefits demonstrate the value and support beyond a video. Unique features like that of synchronized video to exhibits can prove invaluable when a need to replay testimony arises.
When it comes to remote depositions, the steps you take now can protect your case later, should a problem develop. Each case is different, making it essential that you learn how to secure the best remote deposition possible.
Tip Number Five: Avoid a Case of Remote Deposition Hiccups
Life is unexpected, and certain things sometimes go wrong during a remote deposition. For example, a loss of internet service can abruptly end a deposition on either end.
While some hiccups are unavoidable, preparing for your remote deposition with the tips listed above can reduce the risk. Other valuable tips include:
- Remind all participants of the need for a strong internet connection.
- Use a remote legal platform that includes a remote court reporter who will troubleshoot any technical glitches.
Making Remote Depositions Work for Your Case
Depositions are too important to leave to chance. A poor deposition due to technical difficulties, poor audio/visual quality, or mishandled exhibits can negatively impact your case. The right remote deposition service and software exist to prevent this from happening to you.
Not every remote deposition service is alike. Risking your remote deposition to free or cheap service can result in grainy video with poor audio — just one example of a bad outcome.
Remote depositions are likely here to stay. The entire world has changed and adapted as we have navigated the pandemic, and nowhere is this more true than in the legal system. Without remote depositions, the court backlog would have continued to grow. However, the use of remote depositions throughout the pandemic has shown that new technologies can make the process easier and more affordable for everyone involved.
Schedule A Free Remote Legal Demonstration Today
You can learn more about what is new in remote depositions by reaching out to Remote Legal today. Our friendly and professional staff are happy to help guide you in your journey to remote depositions that are technically easy and of high quality. Contact us for a free demonstration.
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