Cyberthreats, Remote Deposition Rulings Were Top of Mind for Readers in 2022

Blog posts addressing the devastating threat of financial and reputational harms from ransomware attacks were the well-read communications that Esquire Deposition Solutions published in 2022.

Blog posts on ransomware attacks, ransomware and data breach legislation, sound cybersecurity practices from vendors, and cyberinsurance for online threats consistently outpaced everything else we published in popularity. Cybersecurity issues clearly dominated the thinking of law firm leaders throughout the year.

Next down the list in popularity in 2022 were blog posts alerting readers to court rulings on issues arising from remote deposition practice, followed by posts on softer topics such as lawyer wellness and unprofessional deposition antics.

This is the third year we’ve attempted to draw meaningful insights from readership numbers for our most popular blog posts during the preceding year. As do most online publishers, we believe that readership statistics are a good way to gauge reader concerns and priorities. Before we get to 2022, however, it may be worth a look at articles that proved popular in prior years but not in 2022.

In 2020, the legal profession was just getting acquainted with practicing law during the COVID-19 pandemic. Articles on COVID-19 burnoutthe challenge of serving clients remotelylessons from virtual trial pioneers, and emerging COVID-19 litigation trends rose to the top of our “most read” list.

The next year, 2021, articles on coping with COVID-related stresses and the challenge of effectively advocating for clients via computer monitors faded in popularity. Instead, articles examining ethical considerations when dealing with vendors of law office technology and considerations when purchasing cyber-insurance to mitigate losses due to law firm data breaches drew the most attention. The popularity of these articles suggests that the novelty of “Zoom depositions” had worn off within the legal community. Law firm leaders were most interested in succeeding in — and mitigating threats from — the “new normal” of remote work and virtual courtrooms.

Online criminals and foreign state actors had clearly identified law firms as repositories of valuable information and, hence, prime targets for ransomware attacks. The threat of ransomware attacks surrounding significant financial events (e.g., mergers or public stock offerings) prompted the Federal Bureau of Investigation to issue a public warning that ransomware criminals are actively searching through publicly available information to identify potential victims.

As we wrote at the time:

This news has significant implications for law firms engaged in high-stakes litigation and mergers and acquisitions work. Law firms may wish to re-think the extent to which their clients are identified on websites over which the firm has control. They should also consider whether publicizing — in advance — their involvement in important litigation, mergers, or initial public offerings of securities could create an unwitting invitation to ransomware criminals.

If the law firm’s involvement in a high-value representation is a matter of public record, such as in court filings or news accounts, then the firm likely has an ethical duty to take whatever reasonable measures are available to mitigate the risk of a ransomware attack targeting the representation.

Congress passed ransomware legislation in 2022, a sign that the ransomware had become a critical threat across the country and a top-of-mind issue with law firm leaders.

Court rulings resolving thorny issues arising from remote depositions also drew significant interest among our readers. Trial judges and magistrates in 2022:

  • policed deposition misbehavior
  • offered their views on “where” a remote deposition takes place for purposes of the federal rules’ 100-mile limit on subpoenas to non-party witnesses
  • decided which sorts of circumstances create “good cause” to order a remote deposition over objection, and
  • ruled on who can — and cannot — be physically present in the same room with a remote witness.

Surprisingly, two well-read articles from a prior year were also among our most popular articles in 2022. The first article suggested strategies for leveraging an opposing party’s failure to appear for a deposition; the second article listed sanctions that trial courts can impose in the event of deposition misbehavior, including a failure to appear. The failure of witnesses to appear for properly noticed depositions seems to be a frequent thorn in the side of our litigator readers.

Rounding out the list of most popular blog posts in 2022 are several entries on quality-of-life issues for modern litigators. One post summarizing the ways that trial judges can manage discovery in ways that minimize trial lawyer stress attracted a large readership, as did another article describing state bar association efforts to promote remote work opportunities within law firms.

Looking to 2023, we expect to see continued innovation in legal technology in ways that make deposition practice more effective for our increasingly tech-savvy customers. We see courts continuing to fine-tune remote deposition practice through judicial opinions and revised court rules. And, finally, it’s a safe bet that cybersecurity threats will continue to keep law firm leaders up late at night. We intend to follow all of these trends on our blog next year.

The List

These articles were among the most popular with our lawyer and business readers in 2022. 


Court Rulings on Deposition Practice

Civility, Professionalism, Quality of Life

Remote Depositions: A Power Tool for Modern Litigation