Tips For Successful Videoconference Depositions
Wednesday, April 15, 2020
Be sure that you/your staff are comfortable using a videoconference platform. Webex and Zoom both offer test calls through their websites for you to test your connection, sound, and video quality. We are also available to test with you in advance so you can practice and get comfortable with the features. Webex, Zoom, and Microsoft Teams offer free accounts, if you would like to complete a prolonged test of the available features. Our office uses Webex to host scheduled videoconferences.
Devices & Connection
The optimal way to connect is with a laptop/desktop computer. To ensure the absolute best connection, your computer should be connected to the internet via ethernet. Wi-Fi connections can experience interference depending on router placement and competing network devices.
Use of an external webcam, rather than the integrated laptop camera, may deliver clearer video. Most external webcams also have microphones that are better than the integrated microphone.
Mobile devices, including cell phones and tablets, may be used to participate, but are best used by those who will be strictly viewing the deposition, not sharing nor annotating documents.
The best practice is to provide the exhibits by email or a file-sharing service in all instances. Emailing/sharing the exhibits to the reporting firm at least one day in advance is very helpful. Emailing/sharing exhibits in advance to opposing counsel and the witness is advised. Having clear file names is helpful for all parties when it is time to locate and open the proper document.
If you prefer not to provide counsel exhibits in advance, and would like to introduce them one at a time, a file-sharing application such as DropBox is suggested. Exhibits can be added to a shared folder as they are introduced. Emailing each file individually when needed is also an option.
If the witness needs to annotate an existing document or create a drawn exhibit, the videoconference platform does include an annotation feature. Documents can be shared with all participants, and the witness can circle, type, highlight, and draw. The document can then be saved as an annotated PDF. If the witness needs to create a drawing, a whiteboard can be used as a blank page. When completed, the whiteboard can be saved as a PDF. If using Webex, the witness must use a computer for PDFs to be saved. If using an iPad or phone, the annotated document or whiteboard can only be saved as a JPEG.
Our South San Francisco conference room is available for the witness to participate, should they not be able to do so from their home. Our office is complimentary, located on the first floor, and there is no lobby nor atrium. The conference room, bathrooms, and high-contact surface areas would be freshly sanitized prior to their arrival. Only one employee will be present in the office. Depending on the witness’s comfort level, the reporter could be in the conference room with them with social distancing. Any exhibits provided to our office in advance would be printed, assembled in a hygienic manner, and provided to the witness at the beginning of the proceeding. If needed, the exhibits can be sealed individually in labeled envelopes for the witness to open when directed.