Five Essential Tips for a Smooth Remote Deposition

Remote depositions were once thought to be a short-term solution to one of the many challenges of practicing law in a global pandemic. But considering the efficiencies in time and cost when taking a remote deposition, and attorneys’ increasing comfort with this format, it’s now safe to say that they are here to stay. After more than two years of taking, defending, and facilitating remote depositions, here are five tips for ensuring a smooth experience in the virtual deposition room. 

     1.    Establish a remote deposition protocol.  

Consider the unique challenges of conducting remote depositions and address those issues with opposing counsel before you sign in to Zoom on the day of the deposition. Does the witness prefer to receive hard copies of exhibits? If so, what do you expect the witness to do (or not do) with those exhibits before the deposition begins? Are you comfortable with the witness’s attorney defending the deposition from the same room as the witness? If so, should that attorney defend the deposition using a separate camera and microphone? These are just a few of the things that should be considered and memorialized in a remote deposition protocol.. 

     2.     Use proper equipment.

Your 9-year-old laptop with a built-in microphone and camera may suffice for weekly internal Zoom meetings, but it probably shouldn’t be your first choice for a remote deposition. Substandard equipment produces a messy transcript, so it’s critical to choose the right tools for the job. I recommend pairing a high-definition webcam with a USB lapel microphone (or another external microphone) to ensure that your video and audio feeds are crystal-clear. 

     3.     Learn the ins and outs of your video conferencing platform.

It goes without saying that you must become proficient with the basic features of your video conferencing platform, such as how to switch between video and audio sources and, perhaps most importantly, how to mute yourself. But you also need to learn how to use more advanced features such as screen-sharing tools, hotkeys, and breakout rooms to make the most out of the platform. In addition, certain third-party applications can be paired with Zoom to ensure a smooth experience and a clean transcript. For example, the Krisp application can be used to remove background noise from your audio feed.  

     4.     Be flexible.

Remote depositions are never perfect. You may lose internet access, your computer or remote conferencing app may crash or freeze, or you may have trouble sharing or viewing a particular exhibit. It is important to develop contingency plans for these issues. Have a second laptop nearby. Print out your outline and save a copy to your desktop. Purchase extra batteries for your external microphone or other equipment. Set up your phone as a hotspot so that you can reconnect to Zoom quickly if you lose internet access. 

     5.     Know when to enlist support.

Is your deposition going to be particularly document intensive? Have a paralegal take responsibility for sharing and highlighting key portions of exhibits so that you can focus on your outline. Does your witness prefer to take control of and review electronic exhibits at their own pace? Take advantage of software offered by your chosen court reporting company—such as Exhibit Share, a tool offered by Veritext Legal Solutions—to accommodate this preference. 

Although in-person depositions will undoubtedly regain popularity, the past two-and-a-half years have taught us that remote depositions will continue to play an important role moving forward. Keep these tips in mind to ensure that they remain a valuable tool in your litigation arsenal. 

Information provided on InsightZS should not be considered legal advice and expressed views are those of the authors alone. Readers should seek specific legal guidance before acting in any particular circumstance.

Author(s)
J Michael Pardoe

J. Michael Pardoe
Associate
Email | +1 410.949.1164

As the regulatory and business environments in which our clients operate grow increasingly complex, we identify and offer perspectives on significant legal developments affecting businesses, organizations, and individuals. Each post aims to address timely issues and trends by evaluating impactful decisions, sharing observations of key enforcement changes, or distilling best practices drawn from experience. InsightZS also features personal interest pieces about the impact of our legal work in our communities and about associate life at Zuckerman Spaeder.

Information provided on InsightZS should not be considered legal advice and expressed views are those of the authors alone. Readers should seek specific legal guidance before acting in any particular circumstance.

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