A major trend in the legal hearings and depositions world over the last couple years, and one that had even begun slightly ahead of that time before the pandemic truly accelerated it, is the increase in remote proceedings. Whether through Zoom or other similar online communication services, these depositions and hearings can be carried out with various participants in different places of both the country and the world.
At Phoenix Deposition Services, we offer state-of-the-art, HD video conferencing services through Zoom, allowing for remote depositions and hearings that will still be completely covered by our quality Phoenix court reporters. For many attorneys and law firms alike, the recent rise in these remote proceedings has led to a need for creation of specific protocols when taking part in such a hearing. Here are some of the most important areas we recommend looking into as you’re creating or tweaking such remote hearing protocols.
Protocol Setup: Defining Your Needs
If you’re just getting started on the road to setting up protocols for taking part in a remote deposition or hearing, the first step is understanding what your specific needs are going to be. In order to do that, you’ll need to consider things like:
- The types of cases you typically handle
- How often you might need to take part in a remote hearing (or how often your clients might need to)
- How complex the average remote hearing you’ll be taking part in is going to be
This will give you a broad understanding of what it is that you’re looking for in terms of features and capabilities from a service provider. It’ll also help give some insight into what kinds of questions you should be asking providers when you’re trying to determine who to work with.
What’s the Budget?
The next thing you’ll want to think about is what your budget looks like for this project. Obviously, you don’t want to spend more than you need to in order to get the job done, but at the same time, going too cheap might leave you without the features or quality you need to ensure that everything goes smoothly.
In general, you should be looking for something in the middle ground, where you’re not spending an arm and a leg but you’re also not going with the absolute cheapest option available. If you can find a provider who offers pricing that’s on par with what you’d typically spend on an in-person hearing while also providing features that’ll make the remote experience smoother, you’re probably in good shape.
Now that we’ve gone over some general themes for setting up a remote hearing protocol, our next few sections will look into themes to keep in mind leading up to specific hearings themselves, or even on the day of those hearings.
Validity Challenge and Agreements
One of the most important parts of this process, and one that attorneys on both sides of the case need to be involved in, is agreeing on the validity of any evidence that might be presented during the hearing. This is doubly important in a remote hearing, as there’s always the possibility that things could get lost in translation or that certain pieces of evidence might not come across as clearly as they would in an in-person setting.
For that reason, it’s important to have an agreement in place ahead of time that outlines how evidence will be presented and what the consequences will be if there’s any disagreement about the validity of that evidence. This agreement should ideally be hashed out between the two sides before the hearing begins, to avoid any potential delays or disruptions during the actual proceeding.
If you’re on the side of presenting evidence, it’s also important to make sure that you have everything you need in order to do so. This means having digital copies of all documents, photos, or other items that you might need to present, and making sure that those files are properly formatted and labeled so they can be easily shared and viewed by everyone involved.
There are a few other areas where you’ll want to define some basic parameters with the other attorney(s) in the case, including:
- Scheduling: How much notice will be given before a hearing, and how long the hearing is expected to last?
- Attendance: Who needs to be present for the hearing, and who has the option of joining if they need to?
- Exhibit sharing: How will exhibits be shared during the hearing, and how will they be stored afterwards?
- Recording: Will the hearing be recorded, and if so, how will that recording be made available to all parties involved?
- Security: How can you ensure that the hearing will be secure, and that only those who are supposed to be involved in the proceedings will have access to the meeting?
Certain depositions or hearings might involve sensitive information that needs to be kept confidential, and this is something that should be taken into consideration when setting up a remote hearing protocol. In some cases, it might be necessary to set up a VPN or other type of secure connection in order to ensure that the meeting is truly private.
If you’re dealing with particularly sensitive information, it might also be worth considering hiring a court reporter or other third-party to manage the meeting. This way, you can have someone who’s not directly involved in the case taking care of the logistics of the meeting, which can help to further ensure confidentiality.
For more on how to set up and stick to protocols for your remote deposition and related needs, or to learn about how our Phoenix court reporters can assist you in this and similar processes, speak to the team at Phoenix Deposition Services today.