When COVID-19 made it largely unsafe to have in-person legal proceedings or court gatherings, it impacted the practice of law in different ways. Many attorneys turned to video deposition to stay on schedule and meet tight case deadlines. This isn’t something new in the legal industry. However, with 90% of depositions occurring virtually during the pandemic, there’s no doubt a major shift in how lawyers practice law was underway.
According to research by PricewaterhouseCoopers, about 50% of depositions remain virtual post-pandemic, and this trend shows no signs of changing anytime soon. Therefore, it’s important for legal practitioners and court reporters to perfect their video depositions and understand the role that legal transcription services can play.
Here’s a look at five reasons why you may want to video-record your depositions going forward:
Videos make it easier for everyone, including the jury, to follow exhibit references. They also simplify life for the lawyer when prompting complex forms of testimony. For example, recording a doctor pointing at a visual helps everyone see what exactly the witness is referencing on the exhibit.
Not every potential witness to a case will readily agree to be deposed. However, some individuals initially opposed to the process may be more forthcoming when you offer to videotape it rather than doing it live. Therefore, video depositions can be instrumental in building your case faster.
If a witness has to skip work or shut down their business for a few days to fly to a physical location to testify in person, the party requesting them will have to compensate for the full cost. However, attorneys and litigants can significantly reduce that cost by deposing the witness virtually. They may later use video transcription services for the transcript, but they’ll have at least accessed an important witness without spending a significant amount.
You can easily compare a witness’ video deposition with their live testimony to accurately assess their consistency. Differences in details, such as demeanor and tone, are easier to spot when comparing in-person statements with videotaped testimony rather than a deposition transcript.
Aware that a jury or judge may watch their recorded proceedings, witnesses and lawyers tend to prepare better for video depositions. These preparations allow facts to be established early on by both sides, which sometimes helps fast-track dispute resolution or productive negotiations.
Now that you know why video deposition is important, you must know the best tips for conducting video depositions smoothly.
Here are five tips for executing your video depositions professionally, whether in person or virtually:
If it’s a video conferencing deposition, all participants should agree on all the details, including the location. For example, will the deponent show up for the proceedings in their attorney’s office? The deponent’s physical location should be well-lit and quiet. Also, if you’re the disposing lawyer, make sure to request any necessary documents ahead of the event.
Confirm that all participants have access to the video conferencing platform, the necessary hardware, such as a laptop with a video camera, and the internet. It’s essential that you perform a test run involving all parties to avoid technical issues and ensure everyone’s comfortable with the video deposition setup. Test the systems for navigation and mission-critical functions, such as audio, video, and the ability to upload and share exhibit files.
Most virtual conferencing platforms, including Zoom, allow users to record live sessions. This isn’t automatic, so make sure to activate it before beginning your disposition. Recording the event can prove invaluable for video deposition transcription services later on if the deponent can’t make it to trial.
Close any applications on your device that you don’t need during the deposition. Your private documents, confidential emails, and other software can be accidentally exposed to other participants if you keep them on while using the video conferencing tool.
While clarifying the deposition rules, emphasize the importance of eliminating potential outside interference during the virtual event. It should be clear who else can be in the room beside the deponent and their attorney. Avoiding distractions like cell phones or documents while on record is also vital for the proper execution of a legal deposition.
Given the sensitivity of legal video depositions, you’ll need to carefully choose your transcription services provider. GMR Transcription Services, Inc. guarantees the confidentiality of your recorded proceedings and uses secure SSL encryption to protect your data from breach or illegal exposure. With our deposition transcription services, we can transcribe your deposition in any format and from any digital platform, from Zoom to Microsoft Teams. Our transcription experts are 100% human and based in the U.S and undergo a thorough background check and training to deliver a perfect transcript with 99% accuracy. Register today to get started!