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  Facts & Findings

August 2001

10 Maxims for Internet Depositions

By Jay M. Jackson and Julie J. Furer

While depositions yield invaluable results for counsel and client, the process itself is often filled with a multitude of time consuming tasks, especially for paralegals and legal assistants. Internet technology that allows law firms to conduct depositions without leaving the office also frees paralegals and legal assistants to use their skills to better prepare the case. With the right type of deposition service, paralegals can improve skills, save costs and time and become more efficient in their management of an attorney's time.

The Internet deposition allows an attorney to join, monitor and even take a deposition live from any location -- the office, home, a hotel room, even poolside -- with a personal computer, an Internet connection and the right Internet deposition provider. An Internet deposition is more than glorified e-mailing, videoconferencing or teleconferencing. The Internet deposition is a unique tool geared specifically for the legal professional.

Internet depositions let a primary attorney attend the deposition while others offsite, such as co-counsel, expert witnesses or paralegals, join in via computer. Participants see and hear the person testifying via live streaming audio and video while the realtime text of the transcript scrolls alongside. Paralegals and support personnel can manage and retrieve documents for attorneys as the attorneys interrogate witnesses. In addition, paralegals can provide details of the case or other crucial information immediately to the attorneys by an electronic messaging system with private chat rooms.

While the proceeding is in progress, paralegals can begin marking obvious testimony points in the transcript for later review as well as add notes to any section. Following the Internet deposition, access to the archived record of the proceeding -- synchronized video, audio or transcript -- is available quickly and conveniently via the Internet. This allows paralegals to edit post-deposition transcripts and video clips simultaneously to prepare CD-ROMs for use in trial, essentially becoming trial presentation specialists using the technology they already have at their disposal.

Accordingly, it is important that every member of a litigation team understand how Internet depositions can free-up resources to deal more effectively with the overall caseload. Below are 10 things every paralegal should know about Internet depositions to increase the success of the process:

1. Save and manage time more effectively
Internet depositions provide paralegals with an easy-to-use scheduling tool that allows them to juggle and coordinate court reporters' and lawyers' appointments with ease. In addition, by not having to leave the office for the actual proceeding, paralegals and other members of the litigation team can immediately begin working on other pre-trial preparation matters.

2. Build-in cost saving benefits for the law firm
Paralegals need to know about every possible opportunity to curb costs. Internet depositions can reduce, if not eliminate, most of the expense of airline travel, hotel and more. This allows law firms, in turn, to reduce costs for their clients.

3. Provide a competitive knowledge advantage
Paralegals can research references made during the proceeding -- comparing, for example, this testimony with any previous deposition -- and give their attorneys an advantage over the other side with the ability to instantly and discreetly communicate with expert witnesses and other important team members online.

4. Ensure that immediate expertise is available
Because paralegals handle the documents and perform a lot of the preliminary legwork, they're often more familiar with the intricate details of a case than their attorneys. Internet depositions ensure that paralegals keep their attorneys fresh on the details and on target during questioning.

5. Prepare abstracts in an easier way
Paralegals are able to mark up the transcript as it happens. When a few words of testimony flash into view that the paralegal knows will be important later, Internet depositions allow legal professionals to immediately highlight those portions now instead of waiting to receive the transcript after the proceeding is completed.

6. Make complex technical issues become worry free
When participating in an Internet deposition, every proceeding is automatically archived for later review and the realtime transcript is perfectly synchronized with the video -- for free. So when the paralegal views the text, he or she also watches the corresponding text.

7. Work better, smarter and faster
Paralegals often spend countless hours looking through text, highlighting sections, bookmarking important portions for attorneys. With an Internet deposition, paralegals can return to the deposition right where they left off. In addition, Internet depositions also offer simultaneous keyword search of both transcript and video.

8. Easily disseminate synchronized deposition
Once a paralegal is finished reviewing the transcript, a single phone call to the Internet deposition service provider is all it takes to make the material available on CD-ROM, DVD or VHS cassette.

9. Get out of the travel agent business
When paralegals have an Internet deposition service in their arsenal, there's no need to fly many witnesses in for pretrial prep. Internet depositions allow much of this important phase to be handled online, with all parties participating.

10. Make the entire litigation team look good
The right Internet deposition service provider will be committed to providing law firms and paralegals with the tools they need. It's important to work with the one that will help paralegals and the entire litigation team every step of the way.

Jay M. Jackson and Julie J. Furer are the founders of I-DEP-LLC. http://www.i-dep.com. They can be reached at (800) 498-4337 or by e-mail at jmj@i-dep.com or jfurer@i-dep.com. Chicago-based I-DEPis the world's first Internet browser-based deposition service providing live video, two-way audio, realtime court reporter transcript and private messaging in one place as it happens to any laptop or desktop PC.

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