As litigators turn to more cost effective ways to conduct out of town depositions, web-based video conferencing is becoming increasingly popular. As an alternative to traditional video conferencing, web-based video conferencing allows more flexibility requiring only a high speed internet connection and a computer equipped with a webcam and microphone. This eliminates the somewhat difficult task of locating two locations that are equipped with traditional video conferencing systems. So if all you need is a computer, internet, webcam and microphone, everything should be set to go, right? Think again…
While having all those items are paramount in order to proceed with your deposition, there are some preliminary steps to consider and take. Here are my top tips for conducting a smoother web-based video conference:
1.) Verify that both locations have high speed internet, not just internet. A hardwired connection is usually the best source for the fastest bandwidth. Since this is an increasingly popular way to conduct depositions, some law firms have dedicated WIFI networks designed specifically for this type of service. This is a luxury and not common, especially at hotels. Make sure your scheduling coordinator asks for a high speed, hardwired internet connection.
2.) Make sure your computer monitor is big enough or at least has multiple outputs. You probably wouldn’t want both the deponent and opposing counsel to have to huddle around a tiny laptop screen. Make sure the monitor is big enough to allow both parties to comfortably participate or use one of your outputs to connect to a larger monitor or TV.
3.) Be prepared by having an audio backup through the phone. As we all know, the internet has a mind of its own. Even with traditional video conferencing systems, freezing and audio dropouts can AND DO occur. Nothing is more frustrating to all parties, especially the court reporter, to be in mid-answer and lose the rest due to poor connectivity. If you are unsure of the internet connection, try setting up an audio backup that integrates the phone with the video. This allows you to see the witness and hear them through the phone while the audio and video sync up with virtually no latency.
4.) Test, test and test again. There is no such thing as over testing when it comes to technology. Have both parties sit at different angles and talk to see where it might be best to place the deponent to ensure they are both seen and heard. Also, try to test using the equipment you will actually be using for the deposition. One computer might work great and the other might require a little tweaking. DO NOT put yourself in the position of having to troubleshoot on the day of the deposition, especially when it could have been avoided.
5.) Make sure the deponent is a good candidate for conducting a deposition this way. While this can be a great and cost effective way to conduct a deposition, it might not be the best way. If the deponent is hard of hearing or soft spoken, it could make for a potentially long day. Constantly asking a deponent to repeat his answer and having them constantly ask counsel to repeat his question can become extremely tedious. It also might sacrifice the quality of the record because more than likely if you are having trouble hearing the witness, the court reporter is also having trouble.
About the Author: Mike Tisa is the Director of Litigation Technology for Aptus Court Reporting. He is a Certified Legal Video Specialist and a Trial Presentation Professional through the National Court Reporters Association. Mike has been in the legal field since 2007 and is continuously researching advancements in the legal technology industry. For more on Mike’s background, visit his LinkedIn profile. http://www.linkedin.com/in/miketisa/