How to Manage In-Person vs. Virtual Depositions for Your Firm’s Operations

Managing depositions is a critical, ongoing part of your law firm’s caseoperations. With the rise in virtual deposition options during the pandemic, you may wonder if a virtual deposition could offer enhanced convenience to your case. Is a virtual deposition the right solution for you?

If you do need to choose between virtual and in-person deposition options, how can you get everyone to agree? These best practices can help you manage your virtual and in-person depositions more effectively.

The Difference Between Virtual and In-Person Depositions: What You Need to Know

Choosing between virtual and in-person depositions can be a complicated process, especially if you don’t have a solid reason that points you in one direction or the other. However, there are several things that can help you decide on the right platform and format for your needs. 

Related: Pros and Cons to Remote Depositions

The Benefits of Remote Depositions

Remote depositions often offer enhanced convenience for all participants.

  • They often take less time out of the participants’ day and may mean less travel, which can help cut down on overall costs.
  • Sometimes, you can conduct a remote deposition faster than you can an in-person one, especially if scheduling becomes an issue during the process.
  • You may find it easier to bring everyone together when there is no travel involved. 

The Benefits of In-Person Depositions

While remote depositions have a number of advantages, there are several benefits to in-person depositions. 

  • In some cases, it can be easier to connect personally with a witness when you’re able to see them in person.
  • Some people feel that they can better gauge a witness’s credibility in person. 
  • When you’re conducting a deposition in person, you may not have to worry as much about potential technology challenges, which can help the deposition process flow more smoothly.

While both types of depositions have benefits, virtual depositions are becoming popular for their streamlined, effective, convenience. Choosing a trusted provider for your remote deposition will make the process easier. In addition, using the right platform, including one that offers HD video and all the features your virtual deposition might require, can make it easier to conduct a virtual deposition effectively and efficiently. 

In-Person or Virtual Deposition: Which One is Right for You?

Determining whether you should conduct a deposition virtually or in person is specific to each case, each firm, and each client. You may find that one client feels much more comfortable with a virtual deposition, while another prefers the in-person method. While virtual depositions are on the rise, they have not entirely replaced the in-person deposition option. If you have a specific reason for an in-person deposition, it may still serve your needs. On the other hand, in many cases, virtual depositions are much easier and more effective. Here are a few considerations to help you decide:

Is Everyone Geographically Convenient?

If everyone is conveniently located in the same geographic area and scheduling works out all right, an in-person deposition might work out just fine. On the other hand, in many cases, it may be harder than you think to get everyone together. Maybe the witness has moved out of state, or perhaps has never lived in the state where the case occurred. Perhaps the witness is a member of the military who has been sent away on orders, or must travel out of state for work purposes.

The witness might simply be someone who has a difficult schedule that makes it hard to come in for an in-person deposition. 

With the rise in popularity of virtual depositions, it has become increasingly common–and a virtual deposition can make scheduling your deposition much easier and more effective. Not only do they make geography a non-issue, but they can also make scheduling much easier.

How Has the Court Reporter Shortage Impacted Your Area?

The court reporter shortage is much more pronounced in some areas than others. While some lawyers have no trouble locating a court reporter to handle their depositions and other needs, others may struggle to schedule depositions or court proceedings due to the court reporter shortage.

If the court reporter shortage has hit your area hard, particularly if you are in a high-need area like New York or Florida, you may find that a virtual deposition, especially one with an all-in-one service that will provide a virtual court reporter, will help you conduct your proceedings more efficiently and effectively. With today’s technology and a specialty legal platform, virtual depositions offer a great option that is no longer just for special cases.

Is There a Potential Infection Concern?

Over the course of the last couple of years, many people have become increasingly concerned about potential infection risk in a variety of settings–and a courtroom is no exception. When you conduct an in-person deposition, everyone in the room may have to concern themselves with exposure to Covid-19–or to any of the other illnesses that might make the rounds in your community, including the flu, strep, or even the common cold. A virtual deposition, on the other hand, removes those risks and can make everyone feel more confident about their court appearance.

Will You Need to Replay the Witness’s Testimony?

A virtual deposition often means that you automatically have a video record of a witness’s testimony. If you have a witness whose story is likely to change, or you have a reason why you might need to refer back to that testimony later, a video testimony creates a clear record that will make it easy to refer back to that testimony at a later date. With a virtual deposition, you can quickly and easily play back clips directly. 

While videographers are also available to record in-person depositions, it may be much more difficult to make sure that you have one on hand. For an in-person deposition, you will have to arrange for the videographer, including ensuring that your schedule works with theirs. An in-person video will also take longer to process and be delivered, while a virtual deposition platform can offer a dated, timestamped video, often available immediately after the proceedings. 

Related: Video Deposition Software: How It’s Changing the Justice System

How to Get Everyone on the Same Page Regarding Virtual vs. In-Person Depositions

Sometimes, it may be easy to decide on a virtual deposition or in-person deposition option. In other cases, however, you may find it difficult to get everyone on the same page. Try some of these strategies. 

  • Discuss the reasons behind wanting a virtual deposition. Are there health concerns? Is geography a problem? Do you need to address the court reporter shortage? Share your thought process.
  • Offer a clear assessment of the benefits of a virtual deposition.
  • Suggest a reliable, full-service platform that may offer advantages to everyone involved. 

By working together to reach a reasonable solution, you can often get everyone on the same page regarding your deposition needs and your next steps. 

How to Choose a Virtual Deposition Platform

When choosing a virtual deposition platform, there are several things to keep in mind.

Look for a Solution Designed for the Legal Field

There are plenty of video conferencing solutions out there. Those solutions, however, often are not geared toward the legal profession, and may not have the features you need. Instead, look for a solution specifically designed with legal proceedings in mind, including features like:

  • Automatic transcription
  • Legal industry standard security
  • A notary to swear in witnesses
  • Capturing the record
  • Certifying the transcript
  • The ability to date, timestamp, mark, and annotate exhibits

These common features can make your case proceed much more smoothly.

Select an All-In-One Solution

Do you need a court reporter? Clear evidence-handling procedures? Look for a solution that will take care of all your needs in one place. Ideally, the solution you choose will offer an all-inclusive package where you pay one fee for all services, rather than having to select only the specific services you might need and not having access to the rest.

Choose a High-Quality Platform

Look for a platform that offers HD video for the highest-quality record of your depositions. You may also benefit from advanced technology AI that can accurately record the initial transcription for a quick and accurate rough draft, available translation services, and other critical factors. You want to ensure that everything needed for a successful deposition is already available.

How to Prepare for a Remote Deposition

Are you planning a remote deposition? There are several things you may need to do to prepare, both when it comes to preparing a witness and when it comes to ensuring that you have the right documentation on hand. Direct your clients to think of a remote deposition like any other professional meeting that they might want to look and be well prepared for. 

1. Remind Your Witness to Dress Professionally

It can be tempting for some witnesses to show up for a remote deposition in the same comfortable clothing they normally wear around the house. Remind your witness to dress professionally.

2. Prepare a Blank Background

Where possible, make sure the witness has a blank background. You may need to make sure that you also have a clean, clear space as you prepare for virtual court proceedings.

3. Check Your Technology

Make sure that microphones, speakers, and cameras all work well and that they are reliable. If necessary, upgrade technology before the day of the deposition. Preparing ahead of time can help avoid frustrating delays. You may also want to make sure that your witness knows how to use the technology and has a chance to practice. 

4. Speak Clearly and Slowly

To make it easier to ensure that all information is picked up by the microphone clearly, make sure both you and your witness speak clearly and a little slower than normal. Avoid speaking over anyone else, since overlapping speech can be particularly difficult to pick up in a virtual setting. 

Choose the Right Deposition Platform for Your Needs

The right deposition platform for your needs may vary depending on the individual case. If you have a key witness, for example, you may find it more effective to conduct that deposition in person. On the other hand, you may find that some cases proceed more smoothly when you have the option of remote depositions on the table. As you become more familiar with the technology, you may find it easier to make it part of your regular legal processes. Do you need an effective virtual deposition platform that offers an all-in-one solution to your needs? Contact Remote Legal today for a free demo or to schedule your deposition.

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