Online depositions and remote hearings are essential in the modern practice of law. While these changes are accelerating efficiency, they also introduce new challenges. How do legal professionals maintain the integrity of their proceedings, ensuring accuracy, transparency, and effectiveness?
The Importance of Preparation
The hallmark of any successful deposition—online or offline—is meticulous preparation. When dealing with technology, this axiom holds even greater weight.
- Always familiarize yourself with the online deposition software or the video coference platform (e.g. Zoom, WebEx in advance. This not only ensures smooth proceedings but also boosts your confidence.
- Conduct a trial run. Test everything from your mic and camera to the stability of your internet connection.
- Ensure all documents relevant to the deposition are digitally accessible and easily shared.
- Take appropriate steps to mitigate and monitor risks of undue influence, such as off-screen interference or covert messaging.
- Procrastination is a peril. Never leave your technical setup to the last minute.
- Not everyone is tech-savvy. Don’t assume all participants share your level of comfort with the technology tools.
- Always prioritize data security and privacy. Overlooking these can lead to costly mistakes.
Etiquette in Virtual Depositions
Deposition etiquette has evolved, but its core principles remain. In an online environment, how can attorneys ensure decorum and professionalism?
- Always approach an online deposition with the gravitas and formality of its in-person counterpart.
- Make sure your Notice of Deposition clearly states the remote method and video conference platform you will be using to conduct the deposition.
- In advance of the deposition, you or your support staff should obtain agreement or acknowledgment from the opposing party that this will be a remote deposition. This will avoid any objections to deposition proceedings.
- Make sure the court reporter obtains a stipulation from both parties that the deposition can be conducted remotely before starting questioning.
- Your environment is an extension of your professionalism. Choose a distraction-free, appropriate setting.
- Emphasize the need for verbal confirmations. Nods or gestures might not be captured accurately online.
- Unless interruption is needed to make an objection or protect a privileged answer, allow others to complete their question or answer before you interject.
- You might be at home, but professional attire remains essential.
- Ensure your environment remains undisturbed. From noisy pets to unexpected visitors, prepare for potential disruptions.
How long does a deposition take?
A remote deposition can take varying amounts of time depending on the circumstances. Here are some factors that can affect the length of a remote deposition:
- The complexity of the case
- The number of witnesses being deposed
- The length of each witness's testimony
- The number of objections made during the deposition
- Technical issues that may arise during the remote deposition
Handling Exhibits and Evidence
One of the major advantages of online depositions is the ability to leverage digital tools for evidence presentation. However, this requires some forethought.
- Some court reporting companies will provide you with control over exhibit sharing while others prefer the reporter to handle it. Make sure you know in advance what the setup will be.
- Prepare the exhibits you want to share in advance by having them titled, marked, and ready to go on screen.
- As you present an exhibit, confirm that everyone can see what you are intending to share.
- If you plan to have the deponent mark the exhibits up, ensure you are familiar with how to do so on the video conference platform you are using.
- Clarity is vital. Always clearly mark and verbalize descriptions of each exhibit for the official record.
- Wait until the deposition starts to find out if opposing counsel received in discovery the exhibits you plan to use during the depo. Discovering new evidence mid-deposition will likely interrupt the proceeding.
- Assume everyone is seeing the exhibit you intend to share. Continually check to ensure clarity for all attendees.
The Importance of Online Deposition Platforms
Just like an in-person proceeding, ensuring a successful remote deposition requires advance preparation, and familiarity with any technology tools you plan to leverage.
Platforms like Parrot offer a solution that streamlines this process. Trusted by national insurance carriers and law firms, Parrot introduces features such as cost efficient Real Time transcripts and synced Rough Drafts available 90 minute post depo/EUO. Parrot’s certified court reporters and skilled digital reporters provide added assurance for an impeccable deposition or EUO experience.
Interested in learning more about how Parrot ensures you stay ahead of the curve, delivering precise, professional, and seamless proceedings? Get a demo of Parrot today.