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  Chicago Daily Law Bulletin

     March 29, 2000

Service allows attorneys to take depositions on Internet

By Aaron Chambers
Chicago Daily Law Bulletin

SPRINGFIELD- An Internet deposition service, permitting lawyers to take and attend depositions from anywhere on the globe, will be unveiled Thursday at the American Bar Association's Techshow 2000 in Chicago.

I-DEP -- short for Internet depositions -- provides live video, two-way audio, real-time court reporter transcripts and private messaging.

You'll be able to see the person being deposed, as well as read the court reporter's transcript, as well as chat with the person who is on site," said Jay M. Jackson, president of Chicago-based I-DEP LLC.

I-DEP is apparently the first service of its kind in the nation. Jackson said the first online deposition using I-DEP was performed Monday, when lawyers in Chicago deposed a physician in Las Vegas. He declined to release the attorneys' names or details of the case.

Neither attorneys interviewed for this article nor David P. Whelan, legal director of the ABA's technology resource center, could cite a previous case where a deposition was conducted on the Internet.

Many attorneys took a wait-and-see approach to I-DEP. Some said there are too many advantages to being present during depositions while others said anything to make discovery less expensive and burdensome should be welcomed.

I have some very strong views about actually participating in a deposition, seeing the witness live," said Chicago trial attorney Robert A. Clifford. You're in a much better position to cross-examine that witness at a deposition in person where you can spontaneously react to facial expressions, voice inflections, body language in a way that is not available to you over the Internet."

Clifford also doubted I-DEP would reduce the cost of depositions. If the lawyers are still participating, either in person at the deposition, they're still participating. So you're not saving anything on lawyer time," Clifford said.

Chicago trial attorney William Joseph Linklater said he has always been present at depositions and that he thought the new procedure would take some getting used to.

I think any trial lawyer would be interested in learning more about anything that is designed to to improve the discovery process to make it less burdensome and less expensive," said Linklater, first vice president of the Chicago Bar Association. If this proposal does that, then it will be welcomed."

The cost of I-DEP hasn't been determined. We've been presenting this to various law firms ... and we're trying to get a feel for what, realistically, they would pay," Jackson said.

Another vendor at Techshow 2000, LiveNote, offers real-time transcripts for depositions over the Internet, company officials said. Lawyers viewing the deposition can communicate with the interrogator using chat software or another phone line, said Pam Marty, LiveNote's director of training and support.

Ross E. Colby, president of the Chicago deposition videotaping firm Liticorp, said he didn't view I-DEP's technology as competition but viewed the development as good stuff" because of the money it could save law firms on travel.

But Colby had some reservations about security over the Internet. People still break into the Pentagon," he said.

Jackson said he expected I-DEP to be performing depositions in April.

Jackson, 41, is formerly of The Jgroup Inc., an Internet marketing firm. Julie J. Furer and Jackson founded I-DEP.

Illinois Supreme Court Rule 206 would supposedly permit Internet depositions. As amended in October, the rule permits depositions by phone, videoconference or other remote electronic means." The change became effective Dec. 1. Joseph A. Power Jr., chair of the Supreme Court Rules Committee, could not be reached for comment.

Techshow 2000 is expected to draw 2,500 attendees and more than 100 vendors. It's scheduled for Thursday through Saturday at the Sheraton Chicago Hotel and Towers. The ABA has held the conference every March in Chicago for more than a decade.

Tickets to attend the entire event cost $ 795. A one-day pass is $ 345. Additionally, tickets for the exhibition area may be purchased for $ 35.

--Daniel C. Vock contributed.

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