Attending depositions over videoconference has become commonplace for many law firms. Some attorneys do so to save travel time, to save costs, to go green, or simply to avoid the hassle of air travel. Does anyone enjoy taking their shoes off or unpacking their laptop at security?
Let’s say you have a deposition that you need to take on a case that’s getting ready to go to trial, the witness is out of town, you do not have the time to hassle with a flight, and your client has already complained about the costs with this lawsuit. Let’s say the deposition, although necessary, was probably going to be a short one. Is it worth the time to travel to the witness? In a case like that, setting the deposition using videoconference could be the best solution and would certainly save your client some money in the long run. I must say, though, that how you prepare for this deposition could make all the difference.
Videoconferencing is not what it once was. It is better than ever, and the technology today is a good proxy for physically being somewhere else. I think the first choice for a deposition should always be to use a videoconference suite with a reliable network that is specifically in place for taking remote depositions. These suites usually have dedicated high-speed connections, large monitors, high-end cameras, and a trained staff on-site so the process is seamless. There are literally hundreds of these suites throughout the country and can easily be set up through your court reporting firm.
What if your witness is in a location that does not have a videoconference suite, or this witness refuses to travel to one because it’s just a little too far? In that case a mobile videoconference deposition setup would be the best solution. In that instance a trained technician and/or court reporter would set up a laptop at the desired location. The goal at the location is for the laptop to be hardwired to an adequate internet connection. Although, a wireless connection can work if that is all that is available. If there is no wireless available, a MiFi device can always be used as well. Believe me, it’s not a first choice, but we do these all the time and 99.9% of the time there are absolutely no issues.
What is the next step on booking a videoconference deposition? Well, I would consider these five things and make the call to your trusted court reporting agency and get that deposition booked:
1) Location, location, location. First decision that needs to be made is where the witness and the reporter will be located. In most cases the reporter will be with the witness. At times this does not happen, but it is the wisest choice. In cases venued in California, it is required that the witness be in the presence of the reporter if they are parties to the action. So obviously be aware of your state rules. Who else will be in attendance and where will they be? Sitting at their desk, or do they wish to be at another videoconference location closer to their office? This information will be important as well when you book. All locations will need, at a minimum, an adequate internet connection and a laptop with a camera.
2) Give Clear Notice. This may seem simple, but the notice to take the deposition should clearly state the time, time zone, and location where the witness will appear. It should also note the time, time zone, and location at which the attorneys will be attending. The way to achieve clarity is to break this out as separate paragraphs on the notice. Videoconference rooms are rented by the hour, and arriving late or having the scheduled time misinterpreted costs everyone money.
3) Plan Ahead for Exhibits. It is best to have a plan for exhibit marking and sharing. If you want to go old school, emailing them and having them printed beforehand is a simple solution. The reporter could have them with him/her to show the witness. It is done all the time, and for just a few exhibits, that is simple and easy. However, for a larger quantity, we encourage our clients to use electronic exhibits. With any computer or mobile device and the right platform, attorneys can introduce, manage, and collaborate on exhibits. This can be done using either a mobile videoconference or at a videoconference suite. But when booking the deposition with the reporting firm, be sure to address this as it will help determine how they proceed on setting up your deposition.
4) Notetaking and Text Management. Do you use litigation support software like Summation or Trial Director? Do you really rely on it during the deposition to take notes? Do you wish to have realtime text streamed to a location? Do you have an expert or client that needs to view the proceedings? All of these things can happen during the deposition as well. Not only do you have audio, video, but you can also receive the realtime text that will be compatible with your litigation support software. You can even chat with your expert or client in privacy with the right platform. Of course, this, too, is important to share with your trusted court reporting firm.
5) What About a Videographer? The witness will be on camera so why would you need a videographer? Well, even though the witness is on camera testifying, the video is not captured during a videoconference. So if you believe you may need to play a video of this witness for a jury, you will need to also book one. As with the court reporter, the videographer should also be at the location with the witness if at all possible. This is also something that is important to not only add to your notice of taking deposition but also to request when booking the deposition.
Videoconference technology has sufficiently matured that high quality, reliable videoconference depositions are executed without a hitch around the country every day. By keeping a few simple planning points in mind, you can use videoconference technology to save money, save time, avoid hassle, and even bring in additional minds without additional cost.
If you have any questions about setting up a videoconference, we are here to help. Just contact us at (800) 322-4595 or email me at [email protected]. You can also learn more about our video services at “All Things Video.”
You may also be interested in another related article, 5 Reasons You May Want to Videotape Your Next Deposition.