A deposition is an important component of the legal process, allowing both parties to discover relevant facts and come up with an effective legal strategy. Legal transcription service providers help attorneys accurately document and communicate the vital information. With the increasing adoption of remote technologies by legal professionals, video depositions have become a convenient means to record the testimony of a witness who is distantly located and cannot appear in court. Video depositions emerged as a useful tool during the COVID-19 pandemic, allowing the procedure to run smoothly while participants maintained social distance. Based on state and federal court rules and other regulations, attorneys continue to conduct depositions remotely after the pandemic. In a 2022 Planet Depos survey, many attorneys said they expected to continue to use the remote deposition option, or hybrid, because of the many benefits it offers.
Reasons for the Popularity of Video Depositions
Remote virtual depositions are a valuable option for both clients and law firms. When permitted by state courts, attorneys can use video to conduct and attend out-of-state depositions, and meet with clients to review discovery depositions and documents. Here are eight reasons to support the use of video depositions:
- Flexible and convenient: The participants in a deposition usually include the deponent, court reporter, opposing counsel, deposing counsel, and possibly an interpreter and a videographer. Scheduling the deposition would require getting all these time-strapped professionals in the same physical space by coordinating their schedules. A remote deposition offers flexibility and overcomes this challenge by allowing all parties to participate from wherever they are, provided they have stable internet and a connecting device. With less scheduling problems, video depositions help litigation to proceed smoothly.
- Cost savings: Compared to in-person proceedings, remote depositions come with significant time and cost savings. Many law firms report increased client satisfaction with remote depositions. In the case of a remote international deposition, clients save on the attorneys’ airfare, travel time, accommodation, and conference room. Even in local cases, clients can save on what the attorney may charge for travel time to the deposition site.
- Time savings: Law firms with heavy workloads save valuable time with remote depositions. With more hours added to their schedule, attorneys and paralegals can devote more time to trial preparation, filing documents with the court, and other important work related to the case. Cases may be resolved more quickly, winning client appreciation.
- Facilitates discovery deposition and document review: If clients are unable to come to the lawyer’s office and wish to review their online deposition, they can do so securely on the online platform. Online depositions also provide attorneys the opportunity to review and discuss documents face-to-face with clients and ask questions.
- Secure and seamless: With advancements in video conferencing technology, remote depositions have become more secure and seamless. Remote deposition technology is very reliable and easy to use. Today’s deposition technology is specifically designed to provide an efficient and secure solution for attorneys and their clients. Dedicated remote deposition technology maintains the highest level of security, uses a minimum standard of 128-bit AES encryption, allows documents to be easily shared, and records document interactions.
- Capture and share exhibits: With the right tools and adherence to best practices, attorneys can use exhibits efficiently in remote depositions. Many programs allow you to upload exhibits in advance and store them on the platform ahead of the deposition. Users can maintain electronic exhibits in a folder on the desktop and add them to the deposition through the chat or share screen functions of the software platform. Video can accurately capture what a witness is pointing to in the exhibit and make it easier to understand. Advance planning can go a long way to ensure proper handling of exhibits in depositions.
- Allows jury to better assess deponents: Video allows the jury to evaluate a witness’s body language and recognize evasive or coached witnesses. A legal transcription company can provide time-stamped deposition transcripts that reveal the time gap between the attorney’s question and the deponent’s answer. However, the deposition transcript will not record the deponent’s body language or other non-verbal deponent during the deposition. A video deposition will show the jury everything – the deponent’s body language and any delays in answering questions.
- Faster and more productive case negotiations: Attorneys tend to spend more time preparing for a deposition when they know they are on camera. When the deposition plays before a jury or judge, they want to be seen in the best light possible. Witnesses will also be better prepared when they appear on video. Legal tech provider Expert Institute explains: “When the lawyers are better prepared, and the witnesses are more mindful of their testimony, a more complete record is established. With more facts clarified and fleshed out, the attorneys have a better opportunity to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of their case”.
Tips for Conducting Remote Video Depositions
Here are some tips for conducting video depositions successfully:
- Prepare a protocol: Be aware of the challenges involved in conducting remote depositions and prepare to handle them. Resolve various technological and logistical questions by preparing a stipulated protocol for the remote deposition that addresses key components like format, attendance, start time, oath, audio and video feeds, communications, and exhibits. This will prevent unnecessary conflicts during the remote deposition.
- Have proper equipment in place: A high-definition webcam with an external microphone is essential to ensure that your video and audio feeds are crystal-clear. Choose a quality video conferencing platform and learn how to use its features, including screen-sharing tools, hotkeys, and breakout rooms. Conduct test calls.
- Ensure access to high-speed Internet: Ensure in advance that you and your witness have access to high-speed Internet. This will minimize network outage during the course of the video deposition.
- Have a contingency plan: Create a strategy to deal with any unexpected event. Losing internet access or device malfunction can affect the video deposition process. Take steps to handle any potential problems. Keep another laptop ready. Stock extra batteries for your external microphone or other equipment. Configure a hotspot connection on your phone so that you can reconnect your video conferencing platform if you lose internet access.
Preparing and handling documentation can be extremely challenging when it comes to remote and video depositions. The support of an experienced video transcription service provider can make a difference. Experts can provide accurate deposition transcription which will ensure clear interpretation of the recorded evidence for reference and further legal proceedings.