The last few years have brought challenges to the legal community. Due in large part to the Covid pandemic, attorneys and their clients have needed to conduct depositions without meeting in person.
Enter remote depositions, now a common phrase in the legal community. Technological advances in this area encouraged a tremendous shift in legal procedure. While it is business as usual for many, others are still adapting to new methods for remote depositions and changing procedures.
While remote depositions are indeed different, the same traditional rules apply to the actual proceeding. Choose a specialized legal platform to conduct the remote deposition and work through a bit of preparation with your clients, and you can help them be at ease and confidently prepare to give their testimony. Here is what you need to know about preparing your client for a remote deposition.
Preparing Your Client for a Remote Deposition: Getting Familiar with the Process
Today, witnesses can give their testimony virtually from all over the world, and they are doing this regularly. Traditional, in-person depositions can be costly and take up additional time for both clients and attorneys, so this new normal has become a strategic win for firms in several ways.
In fact, remote depositions have changed a lot for the legal community. Now, clients, attorneys, and court reporters can virtually gather for the proceeding without much additional effort. This is convenient and allows cases to progress more quickly through the courts.
However, the process can be jarring for clients, especially if they are uncomfortable using video conferencing software. As an attorney, you will want to “meet” beforehand, either in-person or online, expressly for the purpose of preparing your client for the remote deposition.
The first step, of course, is to acclimate the client to the software and make sure they’re familiar with it. Take this time to ensure that they have the right camera and microphone to be clearly seen and heard during the deposition. A basic “mic check” can prevent hassles during the proceeding.
Some attorneys even go as far as to make a “dry run” before the deposition. By doing this, you can test out all audio and video equipment. If there are any problems, resolving them ahead of time is helpful to avoid frustrations as a client fumbles around trying to appear on the screen or get their mic working properly.
As an attorney, preparing your client for a remote deposition is vital to an efficient and successful experience. That means also helping to define any expectations for the day. Remote depositions are new to most clients and can be intimidating. Familiarizing them with the process, software, and equipment accomplishes a big step in prepping for the virtual deposition.
Information Preparation and Cautions
In traditional in-person depositions, notes are forbidden. Those same rules apply to a remote deposition. Unfortunately, it can be hard to keep an eye on clients when located in another part of the country. Make sure that the client understands the seriousness of using notes during the deposition, and tell them to keep paper out of reach during their testimony.
Along with that, the clients should never text you or look up information on the internet. All of that can lead to serious legal consequences. Most attorneys will make the client swear under oath that they have not communicated with anyone during their testimony.
With that, you can still prepare your client for remote deposition questioning in advance. This is your chance to consult with the client. Once the deposition is underway, you can only communicate in a private sidebar. If you’re using a specialized legal remote deposition platform, convenient and secure sidebars will be available.
Maintaining a Professional Demeanor
A remote deposition works similarly to a traditional in-person one. A court reporter will give the oath, and the client needs to be honest in their testimony. While the process may seem more casual than in a courtroom setting, there still needs to be a high level of professionalism. Remind the client not to be too casual in their language.
Clients often forget that they are talking to an attorney and may swear or say something out of place. Everything ends up in the court record, and foul language will leave a negative impression on the judge or jury.
During the remote deposition, the attorneys will question the witnesses. All of the procedures are exactly the same as what occurs in a conventional deposition. It just happens to take place from different locations, via a video conferencing platform. Using a specialized platform built for legal proceedings will help make the deposition seem more “traditional,” as all the legal necessities will be readily available for successfully conducting the deposition.
When practicing with your witness, take time to see how the witness appears before the camera. Provide feedback to make necessary adjustments to their behavior. For example, if your client is fidgety, you may want to address this before the camera is turned on for the deposition. The key to success is preparation with your client beforea remote deposition.
Once again, you need to remind your client that a remote deposition is a professional event. That means dressing the part and behaving appropriately at all times, even in a virtual environment. The appearance of your clients can make a difference in a case.
Related: Pros and Cons to Remote Depositions
What to Do When Issues Occur
While remote depositions are largely similar to in-person depositions, aside from the use of technology and being in different geographical locations, preparing your client for a remote deposition has some differences. Even with the best plans, surprising things can happen. You want to make sure your client is prepared for all of that.
For example, technology can fail, or other issues can occur during the deposition. Be sure your client knows that these things can be taken in stride, and have a few backup plans and suggestions.
Make sure that your client speaks clearly. While talking over other parties cannot always be avoided, remind them to be mindful of the other attorney’s time. Additionally, remind them to always be patient with the court reporter. These individuals might have to ask for clarification about specific statements in courts, and this is an important part of the process.
By choosing a platform designed for remote depositions, you can decrease the risk of unintended issues popping up. Everything needed for the deposition will be readily available and can be prepared in advance, and the whole process will be clear and streamlined.
Select the Right Remote Deposition Platform
By choosing the best remote deposition platform, you can successfully prepare your client for the remote deposition and put their mind at ease. With platforms designed for the legal community, you will avoid the need to figure out and piece together different elements of the deposition. You’ll know your deposition is secure, be able to pre-load and securely share exhibits, annotate those exhibits, work with a court reporter, and much more. These all-in-one platforms can make the process convenient for everyone, especially clients. All they have to do is sign in, connect, and give their testimony.
Remote Legal’s platform offers everything needed for a streamlined, secure, and efficient remote deposition. Our platform offers virtual deposition rooms, legal industry-standard security, secure sidebar rooms, automated witness-only videos, court reporter availability, certified transcripts, and more. Schedule a demo today and see the real difference a specialized legal platform can make.
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