Please enjoy this blog posted on behalf of the author, Rachel Bailey, Product Marketing Manager, Opus2.
People want to be able to easily open new software and start working. This is not unique to legal practitioners, but feels particularly important when time is ticking on an important lawsuit. The most useful software translates processes that legal teams have done manually for years and makes those processes quicker, easier, and more efficient. Technological enhancements can relieve last-minute headaches during trial prep and allow practitioners to do what they do best — think strategically about issues — not spend time manually formatting or annotating documents.
Simply, a deposition designation is an identification, by page and line number, of any testimony that a party intends to introduce at trial. What seems straightforward can easily become complicated when legal teams use different formats, do not communicate technological needs, or keep information in different silos. These are just some of the challenges of managing case strategy as it relates to deposition transcripts based on our experience at Opus 2. Here are some best practices for using technology that will help keep things running efficiently.
Recognize Technology Needs in Deposition Planning
Managing deposition scheduling can easily become unruly but tracking witnesses in one place allows practitioners to see at a glance who has already been deposed, who needs to be deposed, and who is still only a person of interest. Additionally, calendaring depositions becomes easier when all the witnesses’ files are in one calendaring system. A next level enhancement is witness tagging, which allows users to see witnesses by key details, such as location, relationship to the case, or connection to the parties.
Once depositions are scheduled, communicate your technology needs to the court reporting company. For example, transcripts and related information comes in a myriad of different file types. If the reporting company and the parties are all on the same page about which file types are needed, then things will run smoothly down the line when deadlines are looming.
Transcript management technology allows the legal team to easily finalize a deposition prep kit. Everyone has access when key documents are in the cloud. Particularly, notes and organization such as annotations, tags, chronology markers, etc. remain within the documents, rather than in a separate location or file. Practitioners can create a deposition outline and then automatically link to relevant documents, so that everything is in one place including all the previous enhancements. That way they can easily follow the outline when it comes time to question the deponent.
Organize Depositions as Early as Possible
After the deposition, categorize and summarize depositions while they are still fresh. In some cases, practitioners set aside this work as they worry about costs or think the case might settle. However, it may be a lot more difficult to remember key information when coming back to the transcripts later. With a sophisticated searching system, as well as tagging and notation capabilities, organizing transcripts efficiently from the start can save time and money overall.
Manage Technological Expectations
By putting technical aspects into the joint pre-trial order, teams know what to expect from the other side. While some attorneys may want to make life difficult for the other side, the upside to getting designations in a clean, properly formatted file allows your team to quickly start looking at testimony without having to do a bunch of manual work beforehand.
Likewise, find out how the judge likes to receive designations. For example, a color-blind judge may have certain preferences to be able to quickly review designations. Some software enhancements allow users to change color schemes or include context lines with one click, so that users will not need to re-do their work if they find out their software cannot handle the court’s formatting guidelines.
Apply Designations and Prepare Highlighted Transcripts
Highlighting on software can be quick and easy or quite painful, depending on whether the software was designed for this usage. Some software is just sticky and inexact. A software that is designed to handle highlighting transcripts is just more responsive to the mouse and users do not end up hovering over extra lines or getting stuck and having to redo a highlight over and over until it is where they want it.
Software designed for transcript management may have enhanced tools based on practitioners’ workflow. For example, after designations have been made, users may be able to add objections or counter designations. Some software has pre-set objections so that users can just click the objection without having to type the objections over and over. Other features include notes and permissions capabilities that allow users to only share the appropriate material with external parties.
If someone is making the jump from paper or basic word processing software to transcript software, then they may be excited to customize the font, the size, and various design aspects for printouts.
Edit Videos Without Special Training
With software designed for preparing deposition videos, the team does not need to have someone trained in video editing. When the video is linked to the transcript, highlighted designation text is already clipped and ready for export. Enhanced software allows users to export individual clips or one continuous clip of a particular witness’ designations.
A key benefit of technology is that you do not have to manually add up your video runtime in order to adhere to the court’s time limitations. With only so many hours at trial, users can just check long video testimony will take overall or by witness or issue.
Bring it All Together
One of the key benefits of using transcript management software is that it brings together the strategic uses of transcripts in one place including witness profiles, chronologies, and video testimony. This means users can see what all witnesses said about a certain issue or view notes from an associate that left the firm all in a few clicks, rather than having to entirely reorganize information.
Additionally, cloud-based software can be easily maintained by the provider, rather than onsite patching. Lastly, the team can see all the work being done in one place without having to spend valuable time looking in information silos or duplicating hard copies with handwritten notes.
At Opus 2, we see how great software enhances processes already in place and allows users to quickly and intuitively jump into case strategy. It also is adaptable and evolves based on users’ expanding needs. In short, it lets teams focus on what is most important to prepare the best case possible.