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Traveling to your depositions?

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While we all would prefer, when traveling, to be doing so for vacation, that usually isn’t the case.  Typically, traveling for business has been a necessary part of ‘doing business’.  Traveling for lawyers is no different.  In today’s global economy, it is common for lawyers to cross state lines or even international waters.  One of the reasons lawyers travel is to conduct a deposition.  While there is sometimes no substitute for being there in person, maybe, just maybe, you can be just as effective conducting that deposition remotely.  Some people love to travel for work.  The chance to get away, to see a different part of the world, to break away from the daily office grind or to try a new restaurant.  However, when you have to fly in, take a deposition and fly back out, all in the same day, four white walls look the same whether you are in San Francisco or Davenport, Iowa.

So why conduct your deposition remotely?

  1. Traveling is expensive.  From driving to the airport, parking, renting a car, eating out, hotel, etc., it adds up quickly.  Clients are cost sensitive more now than ever.
  2. You have options.  You can conduct your depositions using video conferencing means or via telephone.  The technology has improved, dramatically!  There is now technology that allows you to conduct video depositions right from the comfort of your own office.  Plus, you can even record the days testimony and have a video to review immediately following the deposition.
  3. Time traveling means being away from family and friends.  With 3 young children myself, when at all possible, I’d rather stay home and be with them.
  4. You must weigh the importance of the witness.  Like anything, not all witnesses are created equal.  Some witnesses may have little to no impact on your case.  Is that witness worth flying to?
  5. Not everyone has to travel.  Perhaps only one attorney from your office travels while the other one tunes in via remote video.

Taking depositions is a necessary function of litigation and a very important piece of the discovery process.  Unfortunately, not every witness is going to live in the same metro area that you live.  While there are certainly valid reasons to go out in person to take that deposition, there are also lots of good reasons not to.


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To Videotape or Not to Videotape, that is the Question…

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As the owner of a court reporting agency, we see our clients order video for their depositions for many reasons:

  • To have the impact of playing video in trial to impeach a witness.  Nothing is more impactful than hearing a contradictory statement right from the mouth of a witness.  You don’t get the same ‘wow’ effect as reading it from a transcript.
  • To keep opposing counsel in-line.  We hear this one a lot!  An attorney will order video because the video will capture any ‘shenanigans’ opposing counsel may offer up during the deposition, thus, opposing counsel will be on his or her best behavior.
  • To see how the witness looks when being questioned.  Some of our clients want to know how the witness will look to a potential jury, their facial expressions, do they appear ‘likable’?  Seeing the person answer questions will give them great insight.
  • The witness may live out of state and may not be able to testify in the event the case goes to trial.
  • The intimidation factor.  Some attorneys believe in a tactic to ‘intimidate’ the witness with the camera and lights shining brightly on them.

Ok, so there are many reasons why an attorney will order video.  I’ve mentioned several above and there are many more if you survey attorneys who use video depositions.

But what about the costs?  It is true, adding video will likely add 40% more to the invoice for a particular deposition.  Are the benefits enough to outweigh the additional costs?  Maybe or maybe not.  It sometimes depends on the judge.  We had a client who took 20+ video depositions in a case only for the judge to rule that they couldn’t use any of them during trial.

So, what if you want to be able to see what your client looks like while answering questions, but don’t want to absorb the 40% uptick in your invoice?  There is a solution.  All you need is a laptop with a webcam feature.  Through web-based technology, we have recorded live testimony for our clients that captures both audio and visual; we send them a link to that video within minutes after the deposition concludes.  Now, since this video was not conducted by a Certified Legal Videographer, this particular video would not be able to be shown in trial; but, sometimes showing the video at trial is not the end game.

Whatever your motive is for ordering up your deposition as video, there is potentially a way to accomplish your goals while getting your video quicker and with less costs.  Contact us to learn more!


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Who’s showing up at your deposition?

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Over the years, I have found that when booking a court reporter for a deposition, some attorneys care a great deal who shows up, while others are interested in anyone with a court reporting license and a pulse!  The job of a court reporter – a very vital part of the deposition process – is usually overlooked.  We use the phrase, “In our line of work, no news is typically good news!”  While we do get the occasional compliment, we typically only hear about any issue that there may have been.  It’s funny, some attorneys will actually schedule their deposition around the schedule of their favorite court reporter.  That reporter has built a rapport with the attorney, knows their quirks and questioning style, how often they like to break, and they can rely on their reporter to show up timely and do a great job.  Some clients don’t have a preference on who their court reporter is as long as they are accurate and timely.

So, why should an attorney care?  Well, for starters, those that don’t care will start to care when they have a bad one!  Like attorneys, or any profession for that matter, not all court reporters are created equal.  Some like all-day jobs, some like only half-day jobs, some love medical depositions, while others won’t take them.  Some will only drive to a deposition that is within a five-mile radius from home while others will drive hundreds of miles!  Some reporters can get a rough draft to a client within a few hours of completion of the deposition while others will take several days to get a rough draft completed.  Juggling the personalities of a court reporter to a particular deposition is a full-time job!  You wouldn’t send a reporter to a full-day job who only wants half-day jobs, etc.; therefore, it’s important for a court reporting agency to be able to line up a deposition to fit the personality and skillset of a particular court reporter.

Should an attorney find and request a certain court reporter?  It depends.  Here are the reasons to build a rapport with a particular court reporter:

  1. They know your questioning style.  Believe it or not, this matters.  For example, a reporter who is familiar with your style can help plow through a deposition without feeling the need to stop you for being too fast.
  2. They become familiar with your case, the spellings, the parties, and the exhibits.  This can help in getting your final transcripts quicker and with more accuracy!
  3. You don’t have to worry about them showing up late.  While things do happen – we had a court reporter hit a deer this week while on her way to a deposition! – when you have a “go-to” reporter, you can typically rely on them to arrive on time and ready to go.
  4. You may need them to do you a “favor.”  You may have a deposition in an undesirable part of town or need the final transcript for a witness you took on Friday first thing Monday morning.  Well, your “go-to” reporter should have no problems helping out an attorney who specifically requests them time and time again.
  5. They almost become an extension of your team.  Clients who have court reporters they request can count on them to do a great job.  For all of you baseball fans out there, for a long time, Detroit Tigers fans could count on Miquel Cabrera every year to hit above .300, hit over 30 homeruns and drive in over 100 runs.  You could pencil it in.  You didn’t even have to think otherwise.  Your favorite reporter should be automatic too.  You know he or she will do an amazing job, produce an accurate transcript on a timely basis and be pleasant while doing it.

For all the younger attorneys out there who haven’t yet found their “Miggy,” like the scouting team, be on the lookout for him or her.  You may just need them one day to bail you out of a pinch!


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Welcome to FortzLegal.com!

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Fortz Legal has now launched our new website! Please check back for more updates.


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