If the Covid-19 era has taught court reporters anything, it is that technology changes fast and we need to adapt quickly. Rather than traveling to in-person depositions, we were thrust into the world of video depositions. After all, lawsuits were still happening and courts were operating, even if in a lesser capacity. Lockdowns had us worried but we learned to change with the times with remote depositions in a pandemic world.
The challenge today is that the rules of court reporting and technology, specifically recording video depositions, are from 2006, years before a pandemic locked the world down. The world has changed, as has the technology and how we manage remote depositions. In this article, I write about the rise of technology, especially for court reporters. In later articles, I will be writing about how technology and the law haven’t caught up with each other and where that leaves us.
Angela Miller, the President of the Arizona Court Reporters Association (ACRA) said in the September 2021 issue of the ACRA Newsletter, “Our skill set cannot be replicated, and our dedication to our profession cannot be rivaled. We have proven to attorneys, judges, and court personnel that we are adaptive, we are flexible, and we can provide services on the fly with up-to-date technology and knowledge, and we can provide all of this not only in person but remotely.”
I agree wholeheartedly with her. At Herder and Associates, we’ve had to make quick adjustments, just like the rest of the world.
Court Reporting and Technology: A Brief History
In 2006, there was a rule put in place, that still stands today, which says court reporters are not allowed to record video depositions. That was fine at the time because most of our depositions were done on-site in conference rooms across the state of Arizona. People of all professions were primarily working in corporate offices, not at home, and the world had no idea what a pandemic would do to the way we work and where we work.
At that time, Twitter was being released. No one knew what to do with only 140 characters in a message. Today, the messages are up to 280 characters because of users requesting more space to write and Twitter giving us that. Apple released the new iMac with Intel Core Duo processor and introduced the MacBook Pro. Facebook was only two years old. Instagram was four years from existing in the public space and TikTok was probably not even an idea. In other words, technology has come a long way in 16 years.
In June 2013, Zoom was released for use, but it wasn’t until Spring 2020, the beginning of the pandemic lockdowns when it became widely popular. Attorneys and court reporters alike began using Zoom for video depositions as the rest of the world was meeting via the same platform. It makes sense that we started recording depositions, to the chagrin of some, because we needed to go back and listen, to make sure we were, and still are, accurately capturing what was said. Life was chaotic so we used technology to ease the stress.
Everyone from solopreneurs to corporate America was embracing life on Zoom. It makes sense that court reporters would use it too.
The problem is that the rules from 2006 said we couldn’t record depositions, even if they were via video. In today’s world, this may not make sense anymore. What’s even more embarrassing is that there are people who have an agenda to keep us in 2006 without considering that technology and the world have changed. In order for court reporters to do their jobs, we need to provide a more accurate deposition. For some, that means using technology to record depositions, but not everyone agrees this should be happening.
In later articles, I will be discussing why this antiquated way of thinking is ruining the already demand-heavy industry of court reporting.
If you’re wondering how to make your paralegal the star, we recommend expressing gratitude for their dedication in this ever-changing world. Shifting from working in an office to working from home in an instant is stressful. Marty Herder, President of Herder & Associates can attest to that. He has spent the past six months providing 24/7 tech support and guidance to attorneys, paralegals. various courthouses and court reporters, as everyone was forced to make the complicated migration from working at the office to working at home. We understand and we are here to help!
How to Make Your Paralegal the Star
What are resources that can be used while running a remote law firm? Take stock of what and who you have available. While you may not be together at the office, you can still work as a team.
- Client Communication: Is your CRM being used to its fullest extent? Find out if you can send multiple emails to a group. Inform witnesses of their upcoming deposition. Let them know the court reporter may be contacting them directly. Then call us to schedule the deposition. We will take it from there.
- Shifting Roles: Can technology or marketing be outsourced? If you are the one normally in charge of social media and are overloaded, find out if someone else on the team has capacity or outsource to a contractor, same with tech issues like the internet and computers.
- Thank Your Paralegal: We’re all in a similar strange boat and can use a gesture of gratitude. Tell your paralegal thank you for their dedication, even while working from home under COVID-19 restrictions. It can go a long way in making them feel appreciated.
As a court reporting agency, we want to extend a heartfelt thank you to all our clients. We understand what paralegals are going through and are dedicated to assisting in any way we can. From having to look for alternate ways to conduct depositions now that in-person is not available, or quite limited, to talking to witnesses, running technology on deposition day, and communicating transcript due dates, Herder and Associates is available.
Know that we appreciate you and will work with you to make sure your firm is not having to file continuances. We are dedicated to making our paralegals shine by taking care of witnesses, and handling everything from scheduling and preparing witnesses for deposition day to on-time transcript delivery.
We are in this beautiful chaos together.
Call Herder and Associates at 480-481-0649 to schedule remote video depositions.
As a court reporting agency, we understand the value of time, organization, and partnership with paralegals in serving clients. During this time of COVID-19, we’ve had to make adjustments to our Phoenix court reporting but rest assured, Herder and Associates is serving clients with the same integrity and on-time delivery as always. We’re ready to take remote video depositions for you and your clients in Phoenix and across the Valley.
Let’s get ready…set…remote video depositions!
While the world seems to be changing by the minute, we understand your cases are still happening and we are here to help with video depositions in these ways:
- Scheduling all parties for the remote video depositions.
- Preparing witnesses, including testing their equipment.
- Coordinate scheduling changes.
In other words, let Herder and Associates handle before, during, and after the deposition so you can focus on your case and clients.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, we have scheduled dozens of weekly depositions via Zoom and will continue to do so. That moves your practice, paralegals, and client cases forward, so you’re not stuck in a never ending loop of continuances because you were not able to have deposition transcripts ready on-time.
Why are many attorneys seeking continuances?
The primary reason the parties seek continuances is because they hope physical distancing and stay-at-home orders will be lifted to allow for in-person depositions. Reviewing the daily Arizona Department of Health COVID-19 Dashboard, it would seem this virus is here to stay. At this time, it is simply not feasible for the Court to extend deposition deadlines until a time when they can safely be conducted in-person because we don’t know when that will happen.
For the foreseeable future, remote video depositions are the best alternate to get cases through the court system. We are telling our clients and court reporters to not expect this to change any time soon.
Parties and their counsel should not expect to be able to conduct in-person depositions. The norm, at least for now, is that we are doing remote depositions.
What are the legalities of conducting a remote video deposition?
The judicial acceptance of remote depositions is substantially complete. The Federal Civil Rules Handbook states that, “Generally, leave to take depositions by remote means will be granted liberally.”
In other words, when utilizing deposition best practices, a remote deposition holds the same weight in court as an in-person deposition. The court does not view them differently.
At Herder and Associates, we coordinate all aspects of the depositions on your behalf and to the best of our ability. This includes preparing witnesses and taking care of the technical aspects of a deposition.
What does our ever-changing world teach us about running a law practice? For many, it means being open to change, even if the change is thrust upon us like it has been this year. For court reporters, lawyers, and paralegals, it means having to adapt processes to continue to serve clients while keeping everyone safe. To say this year has been challenging is an understatement! We’ve got advice for paralegals to continue to serve clients with regard to depositions and client management.
In Phoenix and all of Arizona, the worst disasters we’ve experienced are likely related to weather – snow, rain, and dust storms. While these are an inconvenience, they don’t cause work stoppages or force changes to how business is done. COVID-19 changed the landscape. If you’ve been forced to work from home or modify the office schedule, you understand the importance of disaster planning.
We often think of disasters as huge events like 9/11, but there are procedures that can be put in place for events like COVID-19.
- Does your firm have a plan to move people, phones, computers, and internet access? Does the plan keep client data confidential? VOiP services for phones and data and Zoom for meetings will help your firm stay connected. Get the team trained before there is another disaster.
- Business Continuity. Even if the team is working from home, at least part-time, does it feel seamless to clients? If you’re not sure, ask them. Even during a disaster, it is important to continue to serve clients at the level you’ve done in the past. It can make all the difference as the world gets back up and running.
- Stay Connected. How will your team stay connected to each other? How will they stay connected to clients? Pick up the phone and call employees and clients. It can be as simple as checking in to say hello, ask if they are okay, or more personal like a birthday message. It is especially important to stay connected; no one likes to feel alone.
Advice for Paralegals: Once the disaster plan is in place and operating, sit back and take note of what is working and what is not.
Having trouble working from home? Establish a routine, even if that means an open/closed sign on your home office. Communication with family and your team is also important. They need to know when you’re working and, for your family and friends, they need to know when you’re available for social time. The routine will help you stay focused and productive.
Feeling overwhelmed? Don’t forget to take time for yourself. Take a walk. Meditate. Listen to music. Watch less of the news. Video chat with friends. Whatever helps you wind down, do that.
At Herder and Associates, we are focused on continuing to deliver high-quality service to our clients, as we have always done. We’re all in this beautiful chaos together and we are dedicated to assisting you with depositions and are continuing to offer video depositions so that you can continue to serve your clients.
Call Herder & Associates at 480-481-0649 to schedule a remote video conference deposition today!
The current uncertainty of the Covid-19 pandemic is not relenting. Stay-At-Home orders, while relaxing in some jurisdictions currently, are predicted to be phased in and out throughout 2020 and beyond depending on expected subsequent waves of the virus.
Courts nationwide have entered orders rejecting extending deadlines and are now requiring that depositions be taken by remote means. It is time to move forward accepting that our current circumstances are going to be here for a while.
Federal Rule 30(b)(4) provides that “[t]he parties may stipulate—or the court may on motion order—that a deposition be taken by telephone or other remote means.” Arizona RCP mirror this language.
As discussed in our article Momentum: Use It or Lose It, it is predicted that dockets will be backlogged for months. One must now seriously consider the devastating domino effect that any further delay in taking depositions will cause to their client’s matter, and their reputation.
There are practical considerations a litigator will face when taking a remote deposition. Instead of hoping you’ve read the right article, let us do our job.
We walk counsel and their staff through these logistical nuances each and every day. Our platform is encrypted, password-protected, and is FedRAMP (Moderate) and SOC2 rated.
Obviously, remote depositions require integration of various audio and video equipment. Not to worry, we’ve got your back. Whether there are 3 parties or 30, at no additional charge we reach out and conduct practice runs with you, opposing counsel, and the witness to test technology, share best practice, and answer questions.
As impartial officers of the Court proficient with video conference technology, we help ensure the propriety of the process. There are best practice protocol that you MUST require be carried out, such as the certified court reporter having control of all hosting functions, disabling any chat function, monitoring band-width and audio integrity in real time, simultaneously marking exhibits, and video recording only on-the-record testimony, just to name a few. There is also a plethora of experience we bring, contributing to the confidence that you are geared up and on point for remote depositions. These are standard functions that our elite team welcomes providing to ensure the integrity of each proceeding.
Please, do not be intimidated or put off by this technology. This is what we do. This is what we’ve always done. We are your certified technical support assistant from end-to-end for all your remote video conference proceedings.
At this time of social distancing and unprecedented changes to businesses around the globe, we are asking how you’re doing. How are you adjusting your law practice? Many attorneys we talk to say they are now running a remote law firm. Whether staffing at the office is staggered or the office is closed, there are still clients in need of services. As court reporters, we often work from home so we’re offering our best resources to you.
Current Tools – Can they be used to run a remote law firm?
You still have the tools used pre-COVID-19 at your disposal though you may need to rethink how you’re using them.
- Clients can access their secure portal.
- CRMs are available to track clients and cases.
- Cloud services like Box are still available.
- Phones can be forwarded so you don’t have to use your cell phone number for client calls.
- WealthCounsel and other industry-specific software likely have greater capabilities than what you’ve used previously.
Most importantly, everyone in your office is still available. A small group can go to the office for signings. A legal assistant can research technology for video calls and using CRMs and software to a fuller capacity. Think about what needs to change and how to adapt to what you already use for today’s circumstance.
Rethinking operations as a Remote Law Firm
Even the most basic of operations, like having a weekly team meeting or initial consultations, require adjustments from in-person to phone or video. We recommend video conferencing services like Zoom, GoToMeeting, or WebEx which offer the security required for attorneys and their teams.
Think collaboratively on team calls. Ask each person to share three things they worked on or completed since the last meeting as well as something personal. Maybe someone needs help finding a particular item at the store or they need tips for homeschooling. Someone else may offer a positive thought or tip for getting through quarantine. It makes people feel wanted and appreciated and may make running a remote law firm be less daunting of a task.
Another consideration is how to communicate with clients during this time. In Arizona, law firms are considered an essential business but many have opted to work remotely to limit exposure to COVID-19. Depending on the size of the firm or client list, some attorneys are sending mass messages through their email and blind copying (bcc) all clients or a group of clients. Others are using social media messaging and/or email newsletters to communicate:
- Hours of operation
- Whether the team is working remotely, in the office, or something in between
- Ways to reach attorneys and paralegals
- How to schedule appointments (via call, website, email, social media, etc.)
- Where to check the status of an existing case
If you are keeping even a small team at the office or are a small practice, communicate to clients and prospective clients what you are doing to clean the office.
Keep it simple for your team and your clients and don’t reinvent the wheel when it comes to rethinking operations.
Setting up space at home for working in a remote law firm.
One of the biggest challenges we have heard from attorneys is finding space at home for confidential client conversations. This is especially challenging now because the entire family is working or schooling from home. If you can manage to have a dedicated workspace in your home, we find that works best. If not, then at the least, set boundaries. Communicate to your family when it is your work time, where you will be working, and that during that time you are not available.
Overall, the message for anyone running a remote law firm is to communicate. Whether with clients, staff, or family, make sure everyone is in the loop as much as they need to be. We all want to feel wanted and appreciated, especially now. Remember you have the resources and people in place or readily available to make this work, at least for the short-term.
We wish you the best. Stay safe and healthy.
In need of a deposition? Herder & Associates is currently scheduling remote depositions. Call 480-481-0649 today.
It is our hope at Herder & Associates that this message finds each of you healthy and as upbeat as possible in these trying times. While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends social distancing and some businesses are closed, there are critical depositions that still need to be taken. We want to remain compliant with CDC regulations so when it comes to court reporting and social distancing, we are taking our depositions online. Using video conferencing platforms, we can continue to serve our clients.
Staying Safe: Court Reporting and Social Distancing
Just because we need to be at least six feet from others or in some places, quarantined, our court reporters can still take video depositions. Take the worry out of needless travel and possibly exposing yourself, your family and coworkers to CoVid-19.
Call the Herder & Associates office in Phoenix, Arizona at 480-481-0649 to schedule a video deposition. We’ve got the phones forwarded to home offices and are ready to serve you and your clients.
We offer state of the art professional hosting and reporting of your video conference depositions.
Our team has been helping the legal community navigate crises and turmoil for 30 years.
Our court reporting services include:
- Remote laptop streaming and video conferences
- Depose witnesses remotely from their home or office
- Remote court reporter and videographer can record your deposition as if they were in the room.
We’ve all seen video conferences go bad. Real bad. Don’t waste your time and your client’s money on an inferior service or a random pool reporter. You don’t have time to take that chance. Your reputation depends on you calling the right experts, the elite team of Herder & Associates.
Schedule your remote deposition now at [email protected] or call (480)-481-0649 to share any questions or concerns.
No matter what your tech-savvy, we’ve got your back. Court reporting and social distancing can work together; we are here to help you navigate your way through this new era. We put Service Above Self, and we will all get through this together, stronger and better equipped to serve. All the best. Stay safe! We’ve got your depositions covered.
ABA Journal – Lawyers face many new evidentiary challenges, such as where electronically-recorded audio was manipulated, and then accepted into evidence in a custody battle to make it appear that a father had used threatening language against another party in the dispute.
“Deepfakes” like this are completely avoided when you DEMAND to have a licensed stenographer instead of Electronic Recording (ER). Unlike a mere audio file, a certified professional stenographer is a time-tested LIVE Guardian of the Record, an institutionally-vetted and impartial Officer of the Court that is actually both witnessing and transcribing in real-time each nuance of your critical proceeding. After extensive background checks, National and State certification, and extensive continuing education on best practice and evolving technology, the professional stenographer remains the gold standard to protect the public and provide a verbatim, certified record which cannot be manipulated, corrupted, lost or “deepfaked.”
ABA Journal – “The judicial system needs to learn how to combat the threat of ‘deepfake’ evidence.”
For your Arizona testimony, please contact our elite team at [email protected] or (480)481-0649
Herder & Associates
Providing excellence in reporting throughout Arizona:
Avondale, Carefree, Casa Grande, Cave Creek, Chandler, Coolidge, Cottonwood, Flagstaff, Florence, Fountain Hills, Gilbert, Glendale, Globe, Goodyear, Lake Havasu, Litchfield Park, Mesa, Paradise Valley, Peoria, Phoenix, Prescott, Queen Creek, Scottsdale, Sedona, Sun City, Surprise, Tempe, Tucson, Wickenburg, Apache Junction, Buckeye, Maricopa, San Tan Valley