New free technology has created a shift from traditional videoconferencing to WebEx and Skype for depositions. Assuredly, face-to-face communication is the best, but videoconferencing can be a compellingly good second-best alternative, particularly when you factor in the mounting expense of travel and the lost time.
Web conferencing, such as the platforms utilized by Skype and WebEx, makes it possible for you to share the information from your computer desktop with people in other locations worldwide in real-time over the Internet. Typically this occurs in conjunction with a phone call or audio conferencing session. Everyone with login information can view and hear the same thing at the same time while you talk. Only an Internet connection is required to look at documents together.
The top five reasons to utilize free technology for depositions include:
1. Significantly reduce or eliminate travel costs and improve productivity
With videoconferencing capability, travel frequently becomes unnecessary. For example, rather than driving between branch offices to meet with your firm’s partners and associates or flying to a distant city to meet with prospective witnesses, consider holding a WebEx or Skype deposition. Doing this can save an enormous amount of airfare, hotel fees and other related expenses. If you regularly send a team of lawyers and support staff, these costs quickly add up.
2. Pre-qualify expert witnesses
Scheduling a videoconference with proposed expert witnesses enables you to make more informed selection choices. For example, you can save money and time by interviewing multiple potential witnesses using a videoconference. In addition, you can also see how credible the witness appears on camera.
3. Produce, store easily access recorded documentation
Videoconference recordkeeping is helpful after the event takes place. You can review portions of the deposition at any time in addition to sharing all of it or select pieces with colleagues who were unable to attend.
4. Document management and online repositories
Solutions that are used to maintain and control documents prior to a deposition also make life easier afterward. This approach applies to any software that allows the attorneys to organize, tag, search and annotate a variety of electronic documents. All the transcripts, exhibits and video recordings must be stored somewhere after the deposition. Many lawyers rely on their court reporting firm to provide this service, but some also use specific vendors or applications for handling this need.
5. Presenting video deposition footage at trial or live testimony remotely
A mixture of diverse software programs exists on the market enabling you to give recorded deposition testimony at trial. It is no longer relegated to costly equipment available only to professional providers. Now lawyers can manage, edit and share video deposition footage instantly on a laptop and can sync the recording with the transcript through trial presentation video synchronization software. Technologic innovations available for presenting live testimony on video from a remote location is relatively new, although the equipment and software available is improving and becoming more readily affordable and accessible. Programs such as WebEx and Skype come with additional security features such as the ability to lock outsiders out to allow users to share documents securely.
Optimizing Free Technology
Videoconferencing is possible using a pair of webcam-equipped laptops or PCs and video communications software such as WebEx or Skype in addition to smartphones equipped with high definition videoconferencing tools.
There is continuous pressure to rightsize or reduce the footprint of organizations in the current marketplace while simultaneously increasing margins to the greatest extent possible. Videoconference technology may never fully eliminate the need for an on-site meeting. However, the advantages include the ability to communicate with an associate over vast distances in real-time, without a lot of planning, expenses and logistics. In addition, the need for speed-to-market and sharing of specialized internal resources is compelling. Practically speaking, travel costs far outweigh videoconferencing costs.
Web conferencing and conference calling are practical, established and standard practices for meetings in the legal industry. On the average, the majority of corporate users take at least two meetings per week based on an invite request via email, the connection details of which are automatically inserted into their calendar. Videoconferencing is the next logical step in the evolution of the virtual meeting environment. Enterprise users can now leverage these technologies working anytime, from anywhere, face-to-face.
The benefits of the latest innovation are short-lived. However, technology that improves our lives and makes them easier will survive, develop and continue to evolve. With this in mind, it seems that emerging deposition technology is on the rise and will become increasingly widespread.