According to a recent Thomson Reuters report on trends and benchmarking, one of the highest priorities for firms and legal departments in 2018 was controlling litigation costs. Many organizations see remote depositions as a cost-effective, efficient strategy for achieving this objective and streamlining the discovery process. However, your task doesn’t end when you make the wise decision to conduct your next distant deposition remotely. There are several best practices you need to implement, even beyond the obvious need to practice with the streaming solutions you’ll be using. A few of the basics include:
Get the Client Involved
When you send your deposition notice, it’s a good practice to notify your client and invite them to participate. Despite a keen level of preparation on your part, clients may have some valuable insight that can support your efforts. They can listen in and take notes on the deponent’s answers to questions, and possibly propose follow-up inquiries that help put certain issues into focus. Clients come from a unique perspective, enabling them to identify flaws in deposition testimony and assess the credibility of the witness. If interference is a concern, there are ways for clients to attend depositions without being seen or heard by others to minimize any possible disruption created by their presence.
Implement Document Sharing
Remote deposition solutions incorporate much more than simply streaming video and audio of the proceedings. Many platforms have features that enable you to upload exhibits and documents in advance, and then share them with the witness during the proceeding. You avoid the cost and hassle (not to mention the security issues and potential strategic disadvantage) of forwarding paper copies to the deponent, especially when you’re dealing with a high volume of documents. As a tip, look for solutions that allow you or your witness to highlight a critical section of the shared document, such as a signature, critical contract language, or even a description of the scene of an accident. If you need to ask the witness questions about a particular section or paragraph, you can identify it quickly and move on with your line of questioning.
Utilize Real-Time Transcript Streaming
This helpful feature allows you to view a live feed of the deposition transcript as the court reporter is typing it. You can take advantage of the most useful and efficient tools of a typical word processor application, such as:
- Searching for keywords
- Highlighting passages of witness testimony
- Inserting comments for follow-up
- Bookmarking important sections
Another advantage of real-time reporting is the ability to collaborate with your off-site team. They’ll be able to view the deposition and send comments remotely, and if you are sharing documents, they can supply you with new material as it becomes relevant.
Take Advantage of Group and Private Chat
Remote deposition technology may also feature a chat function that enables participants to discuss key issues during the proceedings—without the need to take a break for off-record conversations. There are settings for private and group chats, which means you’ll need to fully understand how they work and engage in extensive testing before you go live in a remote deposition. The alternative is using your phone or computer’s chat feature, though these devices pose possible storage security risks.
Considering the time and cost savings of conducting remote depositions, it’s no wonder that many firms and corporate legal departments are opting for this alternative over traveling for many types of depositions. To maximize the advantages, consider working with a third party that has experience coordinating remote depositions in line with these best practices.