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Depositions Part 2: Getting a Handle on Emerging Video Deposition Technologies and Techniques

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Guest Blogger:  Richard J. Leighton, Co-Director, NITA Fact Witness and NITA Expert Deposition Programs, Washington, D.C.

Leighton_Richard_2This is a friendly reminder to good trial lawyers who still refer to video depositions as “video tape depositions,” who are not quite sure how to evaluate the advantages and disadvantages of synchronized deposition recordings, or who don’t know about the dramatic growth of remote depositions taken via the Internet and streaming technologies.

However, this is not the place to get technical on you, and I’m certainly not the author who could do so.  It’s just a heads-up, from one overworked lawyer to others:  it may be time to make sure that you’re sufficiently caught up on some basic deposition record options and trends so that you can continue to serve your clients well.

In terms of trends, I asked two national reporting companies (Atkinson-Baker Reporters and Henderson Legal Services) to review their data for the past five years (2008-2012) to see if they were seeing what I was seeing in my own practice and teaching.  They were.

Video depositions, now usually recorded digitally on CDs, increased an average of 12 percent over the period, the companies reported.  They now usually cost between $900 and $1000 per day, with a $250 to $325 initial setup charge.  (If my client can afford them and it makes sense for the particular case, I always recommend them.  There are few things more effective for impeachment than a 15-second burst of in-person video inconsistency on the court screen.)

More interesting, for the one company that kept track of such things, the number of orders for video deposition records synchronized to the written transcripts increased from 75 percent in 2008 to 91 percent in 2012.  When used in court, the words scroll under the deponent’s image, making searching and comprehension easier.

Both companies experienced significant reductions in non-video telephone depositions.  Commensurately, especially in the last two years, they experienced significant increases in Internet-based remote depositions.  The Internet-based depositions can be especially cost-beneficial in litigation involving multiple law firms taking and defending multiple depositions.  (In one multi-district litigation matter now pending, more than 240 depositions have been scheduled to be handled at various locations by attorneys from 15 firms.)  If videography is not chosen, a less expensive web cam can stream live video to remote attendees.  Setup costs appear to run about $150.00 per deposition plus another $150.00 for each remote connection.

So, how can you be master of the fast-evolving technical equipment universe?  I suggest that you don’t try, unless you’re technologically gifted and have plenty of time.  It’s better for busy lawyers to experiment and learn by osmosis, I think.  One of the best ways to get a flying start is to ask a good court reporting company to show you what options others are using and let you test drive them in their (or your) office.  They often are glad to do so.

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