Best Practices For A Remote Litigation Deposition

The coronavirus pandemic has necessitated that more business be conducted from home than ever before, and certain aspects of practicing law are no exception. Lawyers still need to keep cases moving along during stay-at-home orders, and remote litigation depositions have provided a solution to this problem. Remote depositions occur online with all participants providing information via video. If you are an attorney, the chances are good that you will need to be present at a remote deposition at some point in the future. Here are a few of the best practices to remember to help you feel prepared for a remote legal deposition.

1) Handle all of the logistics for the deposition well in advance of the meeting date

It is crucial that you have everything lined up and ready to go before the deposition to prevent any misunderstandings. This means that you must ensure that all parties involved (opposing and deposing counsel, the deponent, and a court reporter) know exactly when and how the deposition will be taking place. Each person must be made aware ahead of time that the deposition proceedings will be conducted remotely, and you should confirm that everyone understands where all participants will be physically located for the meeting.

For example, the deponent may give their testimony in person at their counsel's office, while the other counsel participates by live videoconference. Additionally, be sure that the deponent provides any necessary documents at least a week before the deposition to allow you enough time to review the information.

2) Prepare for technical issues

As with any aspect of technology, technical problems can arise with a remote litigation deposition. To avoid any significant issues, there are some important steps to take before the meeting. Gather all of the contact information for the participants, including email addresses and phone numbers, and make sure that everyone knows how to access the videoconference. Have a backup call procedure in place, just in case there are major technical issues that you aren't able to troubleshoot during the deposition.

Check that the deponent has an electronic device with a webcam and reliable internet access and that the necessary software has been installed a day or two before the deposition. Keep in mind that some court reporting services can supply a tablet enabled with wi-fi to any participant who may need it. You'll also want to take a few minutes to familiarize yourself with how to use the platform and the features. Ensure that you feel comfortable with operating the video and audio aspects as well as sharing your screen for exhibits. It is perfectly acceptable to run a practice test beforehand.

3) Set the ground rules right away

Being in a remote setting can make the deposition process somewhat tricky. It's easy to get distracted by background noise at home or in a busy office, so it's essential to make sure that everyone understands the ground rules regarding outside interruptions from the very beginning of the proceedings. Be sure to let the deponent know that he or she must respond to all questions on their own without seeking answers from someone else.

You should also make it clear that the deponent should not have any items in the room that could distract from the meeting unless expressly permitted. This includes a cellphone, notepad, or any unapproved documents. Furthermore, ensure that all participants understand that they should not be answering emails or engaging in other communications during the deposition.

With these practices, you will be all set for a remote litigation deposition, especially as the need for such meetings is becoming even more prevalent.