Bloomberg Law
Oct. 24, 2022, 9:00 AM

ANALYSIS: Attorneys Favor In-Person Depositions Over Remote Ones

Golriz Chrostowski
Golriz Chrostowski
Legal Analyst

Attorneys prefer in-person depositions over remote depositions, results from Bloomberg Law’s most recent State of Practice survey show. Given the advantages and disadvantages of each, it’s not surprising that the traditional approach of in-person depositions has maintained its appeal, despite the shift to mostly remote work over the past 2.5 years.

There was a clear preference for in-person, with almost fives time more attorneys picking this option. Of the 226 survey respondents, 64.2% selected the preference for in-person depositions, while only 13.3% selected remote depositions.

Benefits of In-Person Depositions

There’s something to be said for facing a witness head-on. In person, attorneys can build a rapport with the witness and can better assess their credibility. Attorneys can employ rapid-fire questioning without technical delays, and they can confront witnesses with tangible documents, without the need to share their screen.

Attorneys also have a better command of the room in person. Their presence can be a source of support for their own witness while simultaneously intimidating opposing counsel. And being in person helps limit any opportunity for off-camera coaching of the witness by opposing counsel.

Remote Remains a Viable Option

The pandemic allowed attorneys to grow accustomed to remote depositions, such that they’re now a viable option, and—at times—a strategic choice.

Almost one-quarter (22.6%) of the survey respondents said that their preference for in-person versus remote “depends” on the circumstances surrounding the deposition.

The majority of these respondents cited the significance of the witness as a key factor for deciding whether to take or defend the deposition in person. Some attorneys prefer to take or defend the deposition of key witnesses in person, while reserving remote depositions for less critical witnesses. And a number of respondents said they favor in-person depositions when the credibility of the witness is at issue.

The importance of the case and its complexity were also deciding factors for the respondents. Complex cases often generate larger document productions, causing some respondents to consider technical issues, such as the number of exhibits, as a reason to hold the deposition in person.

Travel time, location, and cost were cited as reasons for choosing remote depositions.

Bloomberg Law subscribers can find related content on our Litigation Practical Guidance Library page.

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