The outbreak of the Coronavirus has dominated news cycles, including new cases in vTestify’s home of Raleigh, North Carolina. The accelerating spread has prompted many to evaluate the potential effects to family and business. While the scope of the outbreak is yet to be determined, we believe it’s important to hope for the best, yet prepare for the worst.
The ABA Journal has reported that law firms across the nation are canceling events and restricting travel to protect workers from potential exposure. David Cowen, President of the Cowen Group, and Founder of SOLID.Legal summit put it best, “Law firms are shutting down physical offices, depositions are delayed, and they’re not putting people on airplanes. That’s impacting workflows.”
Businesses are being urged to prepare now for emergency remote work plans, with many companies already transitioning towards working from home. In light of these developments, a slew of articles across the major news outlets has gone into detail ad nauseam on how to optimize the new remote work reality.
As a response to growing demand for remote services, vTestify is making a commitment to user support and customer success during the Coronavirus outbreak. We’re pledging as much hands-on assistance as necessary to ensure the continuity of your case is not disrupted. A core value of our company has always been to ensure ease of use for all levels of technical experience. If it is your first time conducting a fully remote deposition, it’s our mission to make the process as painless and seamless as possible to prevent the wheels of justice from grinding to a halt. We stand prepared to provide unparalleled support and are expanding our hours to meet increased demand.
While remote depositions are typically utilized to avoid travel expenses, attorneys are now considering this method for local matters as a means of social distancing. Here are 5 tips to prepare for a fully remote deposition.
1. Update Notice of Deposition
The FRCP and all 50 states allow for depositions by remote video conference, with slight variations among jurisdictions. This is traditionally accomplished by including specific language about the recording method in your deposition notice.
If the original notice was delivered weeks or months prior without the required language, an amended notice can be submitted within 5-10 days prior to the deposition, depending on the state. If the notice window has past, a stipulation with opposing counsel will suffice, which leads us to our next consideration.
2. Stipulate with Opposing Counsel
Given the precautionary nature of social distancing and quarantine, it’s important to consider stipulations with opposing counsel regarding the administration of the oath to the deponent. While state notary rules vary, here are some considerations for remotely facilitating an oath or affirmation.
- Does my state require the notary to be physically present?
Many states are enacting remote notarization legislation prompted by the burgeoning remote notary industry, such as companies like Notarize.com. Due to the full faith and credit clause of the Constitution, a remote notarization through their service is admissible in most states. States requiring physical presence may still allow for a remote oath via a service such as Notarize.
Another common variation on the oath is an “Affidavit of Oath” that can be administered before a physically present notary prior to the day of the deposition. This document can be stipulated to represent that testimony during a future date will be the truth, sworn and notarized before a physically present notary.
- Does the oath need to be on camera?
Rules of civil procedure in certain states require the oath to be administered on camera in the event of a video-based capture. If your oath was administered via a service such as Notarize.com, the entire interaction is captured and can be attached to the vTestify video to meet this requirement.
Furthermore, in the event of the affidavit of oath sworn prior to the day of the deposition, a stipulation between the parties may that the witness has sworn the oath in advance may suffice. It is common to introduce the affidavit of oath as an exhibit and have the witness confirm on camera that they remain under oath throughout the deposition.
3. Test Your Configuration
In all likelihood, due to the widespread transition towards remote work, you’ve likely already tested everything needed to conduct a successful remote deposition with vTestify. All that is required is standard high-speed internet, and commercially available webcam and USB microphone. Here are some tips for ensuring high-quality remote depositions.
- Invest in a high-quality microphone, such as a Movo. It can be used for more than just remote depositions, and will greatly increase the quality of your recording.
- Check for computer updates prior to the day of the deposition to ensure there’s no unexpected reboot.
- If you’re having issues with home WiFi, switch to a tethered connection through your phone. (Isn’t it nice that we all have back-up internet on our phones or tablets?)
4. Use a Purpose-Built Tool For Legal
While Zoom is a great video conference platform, legal depositions have specific requirements and procedures. Using a purpose-built tool that optimizes your legal experience and ensures deposition workflows won’t be derailed.
Here are the benefits of a purpose-built tool for depositions.
- The ability to play testimony back similar to how a court reporter reads back text.
- Speech-to-text rough allows for quick review of testimony in real-time.
- Exhibit stickers that follow the standards of legal.
- Timestamp on witness video.
- Participant roles with associated permissions based on legal industry workflows.
- Optimized workflows for case coordinators or paralegals to assist attorneys.
- Controlled management of deposition assets within a central repository.
5. Get in the Driver’s Seat
The best way to prepare for anything is to take a test drive and demo. During a deposition, attorneys want to focus the case at hand, not technology. vTestify’s commitment to user support and training includes providing you the opportunity to get in the driver’s seat to demo before the day of the deposition. While vTestify was designed to be extremely easy to use, with 10-15 minutes of practice you’ll be ready to go on the day of the deposition.
Call us today at (866) 845-1181, or email us at Contactus@vtestify.com and we’ll set you up with a demo account to put you in the driver’s seat.