Video conferencing technology has been in use in legal proceedings for years. Law firms can ensure accurate documentation of video recordings of civil, criminal, and administrative proceedings with the help of a legal transcription company.
When preparing for trials, depositions and deposition transcription are one of the most important elements of the discovery process. Today, depositions have moved online, with all parties – witnesses, counsel, court reporters, and others – joining in remotely and from different locations. Lawyers are adapting their skills to conduct depositions remotely. One significant challenge when conducting virtual depositions relates to the handling of exhibits. In addition to having the right tools, lawyers need to plan in advance and follow best practices when sharing exhibits remotely. Let’s look at top recommendations from experts on using exhibits in remote depositions.
- Prepare Exhibits for Electronic Use: John E. Clabby, an experienced litigator, recommends using the “tab” method to organize exhibits for electronic use (www.americanbar.org). The steps involved are as follows:
- Determine which documents will be shown to the witness when preparing the summary or outline.
- Number the tabs in order of expected use.
- Create digital versions of the exhibits on the law firm’s shared drive, using the tab numbers.
Preparing exhibits in this manner will allow the client and the lawyer’s team members to review the summary and the potential exhibits.
- Delivering Exhibits in Advance of the Deposition: In some cases, the deposition procedure would require distributing intended exhibits one or more days in advance. The decision to provide intended exhibits in advance to the opposing counsel would also depend on the sensitivity of the documents, number of documents, testimony to be obtained and reasonableness of opposing counsel, notes a law360.com article. If there are no sensitive documents and the number of exhibits is limited, it would be better to send the documents in advance by email or provide a secure link where they can be accessed. This will help the deposition go smoothly. On the other hand, if the intention is to avoid revealing the identity or content of potential exhibits to the opposing counsel and court reporter, the files can be password protected before they are delivered. Regardless of whether the documents are password protected or not, the deponent should be able to easily access and review them during the remote deposition.
- Sharing the Exhibits on the Day of the Deposition: With exhibit sharing programs, users can upload exhibit documents to a private server during or before the deposition. Some programs allow the deponent to scroll, enlarge, write or draw on the document in real time. Paid applications allow for introduction of exhibits, managing the exhibits, and collaborating on the files, online and in the cloud. In this case, it would be necessary to ensure that the device that the opposing counsel and the deponent are using to virtually appear at the deposition is equipped to run the exhibit sharing software as well as the video conferencing software. Lawyers can also share the exhibits saved on their computer using the screen sharing capabilities of videoconferencing programs such as Zoom and Webex. These are ideal for sharing exhibits when there are multiple parties appearing in different locations. It is important to communicate with opposing counsel or the deponent in advance about how the exhibits will be introduced so that they are on the same page and prepared.
- Use a Two-Person Approach: Using two people to handle exhibits during a remote deposition can make things easier, says Clabby. While one person can take the deposition, the person who prepared the intended exhibits can manage the electronic exhibit sharing and marking. This will allow the litigator to focus on questioning the witness.
Remote video depositions have become the new normal. As lawyers adapt to questioning or defending witnesses in a virtual setting, partnering with a digital transcription service provider can ensure accurate and timely documentation of virtual depositions.