This is an update to the blog: New Technologies That Lawyers Should Use in Depositions and Trials.

Legal Deposition Process

Depositions are conducted in advance of a trial and are one of the most useful discovery tools for attorneys. All attorneys develop their own style to manage this challenging process. One of the main challenges of pre-trial processes is that they are document-intensive. Attorneys have to obtain and record evidence, analyze it and summarize the deposition testimonies accurately in a concise and crisp manner. Audio transcription services help with this.

With the COVID-19 pandemic, depositions have gone remote, which makes taking and defending them even more challenging. Remote depositions, can present challenges to counsel taking the deposition, including effectively using exhibits, ensuring all participants’ technology capabilities, and controlling the pace of the deposition. Defending a remote deposition can also present challenges, including effectively preparing the witness, making timely objections, and communicating confidentially with the witness during breaks when permitted.

Fortunately, today, there are several top tools, technologies and methods that attorneys can leverage to ease the deposition process.

  • Electronic Transcripts: Digital transcription service providers create electronic transcripts that can be stored on digital devices such as an iPad or laptop, and accessed and shared easily among the participants in the deposition, wherever they are located. Electronic transcripts can be searched using keywords to locate the necessary information and printed out in any format.
  • Litigation Management Software: If requested to do so, attorneys need to be able to quickly present documents for their team, opposing counsel, and judge. Litigation management software is designed to allow for such collaboration, enabling users to share files during the litigation process. All documents uploaded to the platform can be easily retrieved when required. With electronic exhibit software, you can store files in different formats, move individual folders and files, organize documents in the order required for a particular deposition, label documents, annotate the documents by highlighting portions, writing comments, etc.
  • Artificial Intelligence (AI): AI helps you work smarter. With AI, attorneys can obtain relevant and more significant information faster than ever, which will help them present quality evidence. They can identify, group, find and review the most relevant data and reduce redundancy by removing records that are duplicated and overlapped.
  • Deposition Review Software: This cloud-based tool allows lawyers with the challenging pretrial reading, reviewing and annotating deposition transcripts. Digital transcripts are stored in the cloud and accessed from anywhere using a compatible internet-enabled device for analysis and review. You can flag important portions, search for specific words and phrases, and produce reports. TranscriptPad, TrialPad, DocReviewPad, WarRoom and Mobile Transcript are popular deposition review tools.
  • Video Conferencing Platforms: With Zoom and other video conferencing software, attorneys and witnesses can proceed with depositions from any device (smart phone, tablet, laptop or PC) and from anywhere, as long as there is a good internet connection. These platforms are easy to use, and save time and money.
  • Rough Drafts Transcripts: Rough drafts are yet another useful deposition tool. Attorneys may ask court reporters to send them a deposition transcript on the same day as it took place. The dirty ASCII, as this rough draft is referred to, is valuable tool that helps attorneys and their counsel in case preparation. A disclaimer is included in the rough draft transcript that tells the user that it may have errors and misspellings and that they cannot quote from it in the court.

According to Veritext Legal Solutions, the leader in deposition and litigation support solutions, the COVID-19 pandemic may have changed the legal process permanently. Their survey results show that while 87% of attorneys never or rarely participated in remote depositions pre-pandemic, 83% of attorneys plan to continue with remote depositions occasionally or more often post-pandemic even as restrictions ease (www.globenewswire.com).

In a remote deposition, all parties are in different locations and appear via telephone or videoconference. While conducting remote depositions, attorneys need to take appropriate steps to ensure an acceptable level of quality. Among other things, this would depend on whether each participant is equipped with proper technology such as computers, microphones, webcams, and internet connections. Attorneys should follow federal rules governing remote depositions, take care of all the relevant technical and legal details, seek the court’s approval of the remote deposition arrangements, and have a proper process in place for the use and sharing of exhibits. All participants should be made to test drive the conference and exhibit technology before the deposition. This can mitigate challenges.

Partnering with an experienced legal transcription service provider can ensure accurate and timely deposition transcription. Using robust technology can make conducting depositions and managing transcripts, easier and more efficient.