By: The NBI Team
Monday, November 29, 2021
8 Tips for Taking Remote Depositions
Remote depositions aren’t new to legal practice, but the COVID-19 pandemic made them more common than ever before. Although many attorneys have found the increased number of remote depositions challenging, they have their advantages as well. Remote depositions are cost efficient, witnesses generally feel more comfortable, and in some cases, it’s easier to manage opposing attorneys.
Regardless of attorney preferences, remote depositions are here to stay and they require new skills and tech savviness. Below are 8 deposition tips for a successful virtual deposition.
Depositions: A Quick Overview
Depositions are sworn statements made out of court in the presence of a court reporter. Depositions are governed by Rules 30 and 31 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (FRCP). They can be taken in-person or virtually.
Generally, the person being deposed must answer all questions asked, sometimes even if their attorney objects. There are some specific situations where an attorney can direct their client not to answer, including:
- when a client is asked to reveal privileged legal advice,
- when the information is irrelevant and private, or
- when the judge has already issued a court order on the matter.
8 Tips for a Successful Remote Deposition
The following remote deposition tips will help you successfully prepare and execute your next deposition:
- Make Sure Your Internet Connection is Good and Secure
- Do a Test Run
- Close All Unrelated Computer Programs
- Be Mindful of Your Background and Appearance
- Ask that Documents Be Produced Days Before the Deposition
- Determine Participant “Locations” In the Notice
- Guard Against Witness Coaching and Other Deposition Violations
Using video conference technology to communicate has its challenges, the most common of which is dealing with the internet. Before participating in a remote proceeding, lawyers should confirm the internet connection’s quality and security.
If you’re concerned about using a Wi-Fi connection, use an ethernet cable. Many newer computers no longer have an ethernet port. If this is the case, you may need to purchase an ethernet adapter.
To ensure that your connection is secure, confirm that your internet is password protected. You can also add a password to the video conference “room” that you plan to use. Generally, your video conference software will offer a password option when you create the video conference.
A remote deposition is allotted the same amount of time as any other deposition. Because all depositions are limited, you’ll want to make sure your equipment and software works.
At least a day prior to the deposition, conduct a test run of your video conference. Use the link you sent to opposing counsel to run the test. This way, you can confirm that the link directs you to the correct conference room. If you’re using more than one computer, make sure to test all of them to make sure they function correctly.
In a deposition, it’s extremely important that the person being deposed understands the questions being asked. If the video or sound is compromised, you may lose time repeating questions and waiting for the video to load.
Running other computer programs can slow down your computer and impact video and sound quality. The same applies to phones. Make sure to close all programs or applications before you start the deposition. You can also remind the other participants to do the same.
Even though you might attend a remote deposition from your home, you’ll still be seen on video and recorded. Check your background to make sure there are no distractions and dress as you would to a normal deposition.
In a remote deposition, it may be harder for the attorney asking questions to guide a deposed party through a document. To help reduce confusion and delay, the parties should produce any documents necessary for the deposition well ahead of time. This way, the attorney and the person being deposed will have sufficient time to review them.
Where participants are located will be important for compliance with the FRCP. In the notice of deposition, be sure to include that the court reporter and the parties will appear via video conference.
In a remote deposition, you may not be able to see what the other participants have on their desks. This can present opportunities for witnesses to use mobile devices or other documents that would violate rules governing depositions.
To prevent witness coaching and other violations, consider taking the following steps:
- Record the conference audio and video.
- Ask that everyone remove any items from their desk.
- Require that all parties keep their video feed on and remain on screen.
- Remind the participants of any relevant rules and the consequences of witness tampering.
- Consider real-time court reporting.
- Ask participants to move the camera to show their surroundings.
You may be litigating a personal injury case or a contract dispute. Regardless of the type of case, you’ll have exhibits that need to be used in the deposition. Certain exhibits will be difficult to show in a virtual deposition. Prepare your exhibits ahead of time so that they’re easy to present and use in a virtual setting.
NBI offers a wide variety of CLE programming on deposition practice and procedure, for new and experienced attorneys alike. If you’re looking to level up your remote deposition and mediation game, don’t miss our recent course: Mastering Virtual Depositions, Mediations, and Trial.