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  New York Lawyer

May 2001

Report From the Near Future:
Innovations in legal technology put the Internet to work

By Steve Seidenberg

DISTANCE LEARNING
How virtual depositions let you stay in control

High-tech advances will allow you to be virtually present in places that are thousands of miles away. So you can kiss goodbye some of those awful business trips. Now you'll be able to do the deposition without having to leave the comfort of your office. Rather than just listening to the deponent's answers on the phone, companies like I-DEP will let you see and hear the deponent on your PC -- while simultaneously getting a streaming text of the transcript being prepared by the stenographer. (You can also annotate the transcript, so that later, on the eve of the trial, you can easily find the witness' key points.)

I-DEP also offers simultaneous secure chat. So if the fellow on the line in Chickasha, Oklahoma, is an expert on ichthyology, you can have another ichthyologist in St. Louis sit in front of her PC, observe the deposition, and send you (via chat) secret comments about where the testimony seems fishy.

Or say you hired local counsel to do the deposition in Oklahoma. Using I-DEP, you could keep tabs on the counsel as he does his stuff, and if he forgets to follow up on a key question, you can send a discreet but helpful reminder via chat.

The downside of this technology? First, the deposition must he held in a place that has high-speed Internet access -- otherwise the streaming video will be more like a slow drip. (Fortunately, you don't need a high-speed link on the receiving end. You'll be fine so long as you have a download speed of 46K per second, which means a good dial-up connection will do.)

Then there's security. After all, you don't want everyone on the Net to be able to watch the deposition. To prevent prying eyes, the transmission is sent via a secure socket layer and is password-protected.

Note: This article is excerpted from a feature written by Mr. Seidenberg about law-industry technology exhibited at LegalTech New York in January 2001.

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