Virtual Depositions: A Guide for Success

Virtual Depositions: A Guide for Success

Tips for Tackling Virtual Depositions

Up to 90% of depositions taken throughout the height of the pandemic were virtual, and that short-term need has generated a long-term change. In fact, in a recent survey, only 4% of litigators responded that they preferred to return solely to in-person depositions.

To ensure you’re equipped to navigate the remote deposition landscape, keep reading to discover what a virtual deposition is and how to prepare for one with five expert tips. 

What is a Virtual Deposition?

Virtual depositions include both fully remote and hybrid events. 

  • Fully remote virtual depositions involve all parties logging into a video-conferencing platform from multiple locations 
  • Hybrid virtual depositions involve some parties gathering in person while others join virtually via a video-conferencing platform 

Both types of virtual deposition offer similar benefits, including enhanced flexibility, improved accessibility, and reduced transportation costs for those involved. 

How to Prepare for Virtual Depositions

Meeting virtually for depositions is a trade-off; while the practice boosts access and lowers costs, it can also constrain communication and generate technology obstacles. Fortunately, the following tips and best practices can help you ensure an optimal remote deposition. 

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#1: Prep Your Clients and Witnesses for a Virtual Deposition

Legal advice on how to prepare for a deposition is just as important for virtual meetings. On top of providing your clients and witnesses the standard rules-and-request list for how to present oneself and respond to questions in a deposition, consider prepping them with tips specific to virtual depositions. 

Before the day of the deposition, advise your clients and witnesses to: 

  • Choose a closed room to maintain confidentiality and limit background noise
  • Test out their camera angle
  • Check room lighting to make sure they’re not backlit in front of a bright light or window
  • Prep the background to be conservative, clean, and streamlined (or use the “blur” feature correctly)

During the deposition process, make sure your clients and witnesses know to: 

  • Face into the camera and speak clearly into the microphone
  • Dress appropriately (i.e., don’t wear pajamas)
  • Turn off audio and video during breaks

#2: Test the Tech

When using a remote deposition platform, it is advisable to have all participants test their access and equipment prior to the proceeding. Waiting until the day of the deposition to download, install, or update software or troubleshoot a problem like a loose speaker connection will burn up precious deposition time and cause avoidable delays. 

Working with a reputable court reporting service provider for your virtual depositions provides access to deposition technicians who can help test equipment and connections prior to the proceeding, and who can help troubleshoot any technology hiccups that may arise during the proceeding. 

#3: Arrive Early

When the deposition is virtual, you can skip traffic, parking, and figuring out where the bathrooms are, but a 15-minute early “arrival” is still needed. Starting up a connecting device and clicking the link to log in to virtual meetings 15 minutes early will ensure time for: 

  • Making final adjustments to audio levels and video quality 
  • Last-minute software update or download needs
  • The dreaded “restart needed” prompt from software or devices 

#4: Plan for Technical Difficulties

Having a plan in place to address any unforeseen technology glitches during a remote deposition will help keep the proceeding running smoothly. If you are not working with a court reporting partner who offers a remote deposition technician, consider the following:

  • Identify a point person responsible for troubleshooting and finding help 
  • Make sure all participants know who to contact and by what method 

Here’s another helpful tip: Make sure everyone knows the telephone connection option for your deposition; this can be a more efficient fix to audio or video problems than troubleshooting one attendee’s device settings.

#5: Orchestrate the Exhibit Sharing

In addition to preparing your content, questions, witnesses, and your own hardware and software for a virtual deposition, plan out how exhibits will be shared. This includes: 

  • Determining who will screen-share during the deposition (lawyer, court reporter, or other)
  • Ensuring the sharer thoroughly understands:
    • The file-sharing tools of the meeting platform 
    • The source file software tools to advance pages, zoom in and out, etc.

Consider utilizing an online repository that allows all attorneys and teams centralized access to introduced exhibits. This will ensure that all parties have real time access and can interact as if they were in the same room. 

Successful Virtual Depositions Start with U.S. Legal Support

Whether you’re getting ready for your first virtual deposition or you’re a seasoned pro, U.S. Legal Support can help. 

For nearly 30 years, we’ve provided all-inclusive legal support services to attorneys and practices of all sizes and types across the United States. We offer a vast network of court reporters available for both in-person and virtual proceedings, top-notch technical support during your proceeding, litigation consulting, and deposition transcript delivery via a secure Client Portal.  

Reach out today to discuss your court reporting, virtual deposition, and other legal support needs. 

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  1. Notarize. The Pros and Cons of Virtual Depositions.
  2. Law Practice Today. Litigators Say Virtual Depositions Are Here To Stay.

Julie Feller
Julie Feller
Julie Feller is the Head of Marketing at U.S. Legal Support. Prior to U.S. Legal Support, Julie worked at Abacus Data Systems (now Caret Legal) providing legal technology platforms and services to legal professionals across the country.

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Content published on the U.S. Legal Support blog is reviewed by professionals in the legal and litigation support services field to help ensure accurate information.