Editor’s Note: The author of this post is a New York attorney who works at a law practice management software company.
21st century technologies are changing the practice of law and affecting all stages of litigation. Technologies used by lawyers range from mobile devices and wearables to artificial intelligence engines and 3D printing. The range of technologies available is vast and their effects on lawyers’ day-to-day activities can be pronounced when the tools are used selectively and thoughtfully.
One aspect of practice that offers great potential for technological innovation is the deposition process. Not surprisingly, developers have taken notice and opportunities abound for lawyers interested in using technology during depositions. The options available range from mobile apps to software, both premise and cloud-based. Here are a few examples of the different tools available to lawyers and how they are using them to be more effective in depositions.
For starters, lawyers are using cloud-based software to collaborate with their teams prior to depositions. There are a wide variety of options available for deposition preparation that enable teams to work together and track the progress being made across the team. Examples include Factbox and AllegoryLaw.
With Factbox, litigation teams gather relevant facts into a dynamic document which includes links to the original source of the fact or quote, such as a deposition transcript, and includes the ability to filter and sort the data placed into the document by date or other types of filters that you create. AllegoryLaw is designed for document-intensive litigation and allows the litigation team to cross reference documents received during the discovery process and easily share their thoughts and analysis as they review the evidence and prepare the case for deposition and trial.
One of the more basic ways to implement technology while taking depositions is to use cloud-based note-taking apps during the proceeding. Popular choices include Microsoft’s OneDrive, Evernote, or Notability to take notes, whether typed or handwritten using a stylus. Notes taken during the deposition can later be accessed and reviewed from any Internet-enabled device. These programs permit the categorization and filing of notes and often include the built-in ability to search for relevant terms, even in handwritten notes.
Lawyers are also using iPad apps to assist in the questioning of witnesses during depositions. Some prefer apps like iAnnotate or PDF Expert to present documents and images for witnesses to review and markup or while others use apps designed to aid in tracking witness’ testimony such as iTestimony. Keynote or trial presentation apps such as TrialPad or Lexcity are another option and with them lawyers can highlight and call out evidence for review by the witness and others in the room during questioning.
Next are apps which assist lawyers with the sometimes arduous process of reading, reviewing, and annotating deposition transcripts while preparing for trial. There are a number of choices including TranscriptPad, Depoview, Mobile Transcript, or Westlaw’s Case Notebook Portable E-Transcript app. These programs enable paperless depositions by storing digital transcripts in the cloud, which are then accessible from any compatible device. Many allow the annotation, markup, and sharing of transcripts or specific portions of transcripts, and some even facilitate the ability to search transcripts for key terms.
So, for lawyers seeking to work more efficiently throughout the deposition process there are a host of options available and the benefits can be tremendous. By streamlining the deposition process and storing data in the cloud, lawyers are able to work from anywhere using any Internet-enabled device in more collaborative, organized, and cost-effective manner. Cutting edge, affordable deposition tools — some are even free — allow lawyers to be more effective and improve the quality of legal representation. Given the current rate of change and rapid improvements in the tools available to lawyers, who knows how lawyers will be able to use technology during depositions in the future?