4 Tips for Remote Depositions

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In March of 2020, when most of the world shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic, in-person business was impossible.  Very quickly, we learned that online platforms like Zoom, Webex, and RingCentral were our way to connect during this unprecedented time. 

Though many lawyers had used remote videoconferencing technology before if circumstances prevented travel, most were accustomed to in-person depositions.  Technology can be intimidating, but it can also be beneficial, efficient, and cost-effective.  A virtual deposition is no different. It is essential to be educated on best practices for remote depositions because they are here to stay. 

Tip #1 – Know Your Tech Set-Up

It is vital for a lawyer taking or defending a remote deposition to be familiar with the platform being used.  Court reporting firms can now set up the deposition on their end, so it is a good idea to know what platform they will use and be familiar with it.

You can test it on your friends and family if you have never used Zoom or another option.  The audio should be easy to hear, the area you are in should be well-lit, and you should observe what is in your background, so nothing embarrassing appears on the screen.  Also, make sure no filters are turned on – please Google “I’m not a cat” to see why this is important.  For proper lighting, it is easy to purchase a ring light if your office or home does not have great lighting throughout the day.  A good webcam can also help provide a better-quality video.

Tip #2 – Make Sure Your Witnesses Have the Proper Equipment

Any witnesses you are working with, whether your client or another person, should also be comfortable with the online platform used.  A test run before the day of the deposition will be helpful to make sure everything is in order.  Some lawyers or court reporting firms have laptops or iPads they allow a witness to use if they do not have their access.

Tip #3 – Virtual Deposition Notice

The deposition notice should include language about what online platform will be used and how, including the proper link and necessary password.  I also recommend you include a stipulation that the videoconference technology’s chat function will be disabled and that there will be no private off-the-record communications by any means between the deponent and counsel and any person acting on behalf of any counsel or party, including breaks, other than to discuss a privilege, until the deposition has been completed.

Tip #4 – Prepare Exhibits Ahead of Time

As you would for an in-person deposition, it is helpful to have exhibits prepared, marked, and in order stored in a folder on your desktop.  This can be shared with the court reporter or person setting up the videoconference.  The lawyer questioning can use the share screen option to place an Exhibit on the screen for the witness to observe or request that the court reporter have this functionality if you have already sent them the marked exhibits. Lawyers familiar with TrialPad can use this application to create exhibits in real-time.

Remote depositions have become the norm. With the potential cost savings and ease they offer to litigants and witnesses in different locations, any lawyer can give it an advantage. Becoming familiar with the platforms and ways to make the deposition run smoothly is key to success.

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