New technology using the cloud to take depositions can save your client expenses and save you time. Cloud-based remote depositions solutions (CBRDS) is a method used to see and depose witnesses without physically being present. This is made possible by the use of an Internet connection, a computer, webcam and telephone service.
The idea of attending depositions via the cloud was first conceptualized following the release of video streaming technology allowing remote communication via the Internet. Some of the methods used have had reliability and security issues. The means by which cloud-based depositions are taken today has improved with the advancement of industry technology. Leading software developers and court reporting firms are joining forces to accommodate the need for CBRDS, including the ease of use, dependability and security factors.
Since this method was first introduced, I’ve received many questions from the legal community. Below I’ve included some of the more common concerns I’ve received from lawyers.
Can I represent my client effectively using CBRDS versus physically traveling to a deposition location? If you are able to see, hear and communicate with the witness, along with having access to documents that are referred to, the answer to this question may be yes.
The most integral element to a successful CBRDS is being prepared. Anyone that will be connected during the deposition should go through a test of their equipment and Internet connections with the company providing the service a day or more prior to the deposition date. This will allow for the resolution of problems that may exist.
When is CBRDS most useful? Cases with a limited budget, restricted timeframes, back-to-back depositions in different states and/or locations, and attorneys unable to travel due to health conditions are some reasons for utilizing CBRDS. CBRDS is the perfect way for a partner or client to attend a deposition. Some cloud-based programs allow parties to communicate confidentially, via chat rooms, during a deposition. An associate attorney may attend live while a partner attends remotely and they are able to communicate with each other during the deposition.
Saving money is a primary benefit of CBRDS. As you all know the expenses of traveling to a deposition can mount quickly. From airfare and hotels to taxis and meals, expenses for one deposition could range from $600-$3,000.
The cost of using this method on the other hand ranges from $100-$1,000, depending on the complexity of the deposition. Each camera used requires a dedicated laptop or other device for it to stream video feed. Charges incurred depend on the requirements needed. Court reporting firms charge differently across the United States.
Are CBRDS accessible? I am a firm believer in the use of landline connections – both Internet and telephone. Although depositions can be used with wireless Internet and through an iPhone or iPad, there are limitations. The most integral part of a successful remote deposition is a clear connection. Wireless Internet bandwidth and service connections are sometimes questionable. If you anticipate any hiccups and prepare for hindrances in advance, you will be better prepared to perform a successful remote deposition.
Does this process help resolve cases quicker? Using CBRDS may assist in resolving cases more quickly since scheduling can be accomplished faster. Also, attorneys have the option of having clients attend the depositions remotely as well, which can result in faster decision making as to settlement negotiations.
Can I use exhibits with CBRDS? Preparation resolves most concerns dealing with exhibits. Send exhibits to your court reporter in plenty of time for them to be printed prior to the deposition. You may request the exhibits be held confidentially until you need the exhibits to be distributed. Exhibits can be uploaded electronically from your computer to the deposition site via cloud based solutions or email. It is important for the reporter to know ahead of time if you will be utilizing exhibits and how they will be presented, whether in print or electronically. It may be a good idea to have opposing counsel stipulate that exhibits can be presented electronically. Be prepared by having a document camera available in the event opposing counsel presents exhibits at the deposition location. The document camera will allow you to view exhibits remotely.
As technology advances, I’m sure we’ll see the popularity in remote depositions on the rise. If you have any further questions about this method, I would be happy to address them.
This article does not address the legal industry requirements as to evidence. Each attorney should decide what is acceptable in his/her venue. Bonnie Ruffin, NCCP, CLVS