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Litigators: Fact Witness Deposition Tips

So, you are taking a fact witness’s deposition, but you have never done so before. You are likely asking where you should start in order to properly prepare. It is true that depositions of fact witnesses can be complicated. You need to familiarize yourself with learning the rules that are both case-specific and court-specific. You will likely need to wade through a vast volume of documents in a short amount of time. You will also need to make sure you are covering all relevant topics in the deposition. While this will not cover all aspects of fact witness depositions, there are some tips that can help make it go more smoothly, according to the American Bar Association Journal.

 

Get to Know the Facts

 

•Initially when you prepare a deposition, make sure that you pull the applicable court orders or rules that govern depositions. When there is no court order, the court division handling the lawsuit will have specific rules posted on its website that governs discovery (including depositions) or there may be local rules that may apply.

 

•In addition to the rules that are specific to the case as a result of a court order, you should make yourself familiar with any unusual rules on depositions within your jurisdiction. Opposing counsel will easily detect your inexperience if you show that you are unfamiliar with the local rules.

 

Preparation Pays Off

 

•Be sure not to underestimate the power of investigating the facts when you are preparing for depositions. Be sure to search for important facts that may not be readily available in the pleadings. Social media is one of the best places to search for information that may support your theory of the case or undermine the other side’s theory. Involvement in other lawsuits is another way to gather information that could be useful for your deposition.

 

Organize and Know Your Exhibits

 

It is no surprise that in a fact witness deposition the attorneys have a large volume of documents to review with the deponent. The attorney taking the deposition must review and familiarize him or herself with the relevant documents. This should include references to the witness in plaintiff fact sheets, pleadings, discovery responses, other witnesses’ deposition, and other case-related documents. All documents that the witness brings to the deposition, as requested by the subpoena, should be marked as exhibits. The deposing attorney should also check to see if the documents are sufficient or if additional discovery needs to be propounded.

• Be sure to provide a buffer of time to receive all relevant documents well in advance of the deposition and account for delays.

 

Final Thoughts

 

Be sure to keep the big picture in mind when preparing for and taking a fact witness deposition. This will help further your case and lay the foundation for trial.

New Era for Court Reporting? How Tech Changed in 2020

America was already facing a problem: There was a national shortage of court reporters. And, with a high dropout rate in court reporter schools, the country’s justice system was experiencing a bottleneck in its legal proceedings. According to many court reporting agencies as well as those with their fingers on the pulse of the industry, one way to make a significant dent in the growing caseload in need of court reporters was to better leverage technology in the industry. Long before the global pandemic, court reporting associations gave significant push back against court-reporting that was software driven. Many argued that a human cannot be replaced with AI, as there are issues such as muffled speech, accents, and parties speaking over one another to consider. There are some trends toward using more technology in the court reporting industry, however, since the COVID-19 pandemic began reshaping the world.

 

Legal Industry Trends

 

It is no secret that the global COVID-19 pandemic changed the way all of us operated in the world. For the court reporting industry, and others, this means the need for evolving skill demands as well as job opportunities. According to an article published by Law.com, below are the trends that appeared in 2020.

 

  • Remote work: While some court reporting companies were already offering remote certified stenographer services pre-pandemic, many workers in the industry were forced to pivot and work remotely as a result of COVID-19. In fact, the world shut down, including courthouses across the nation. The result was the routine use of videoconferencing through numerous platforms and the implementation of remote proceedings.
  • Digital court reporting: Claimed to be risky and an impediment to the accuracy of the legal records by the National Court Reporters Association (NCRA) members, digital court reporting occurs when a legal proceeding is recorded and then later transcribed. Simply put, the transcription does not happen in real-time. Nationally, this method is being used more by court systems and insurance companies, as they are deciding which proceedings are better for real-time or delayed transcription.
  • Mastery of video conferencing: Because more depositions and court proceedings have gone remote, being able to use this technology and adjust presentation skills is critical for attorneys, judges, and court reporters alike. This includes setting up exhibit presentations on the front end — where court reporters become critical assets for attorneys — understanding Zoom etiquette, and having back ups in case of technology issues.

 

Tech is Here to Stay

 

Whether or not the court reporting industry approves, court reporter technology has gotten the confidence of investors and has been able to secure millions of dollars. For more information on this topic, read the article here.

Want tips on remote depositions? Read Remote deposition tips from a court reporter

How Lawyers Can Improve Their Online Reputation

There is no way that we can get away from our online personas, whether we like it or not. When it comes to attorneys, however, getting hired by a potential client is the result of one click and one page of search engines. Oftentimes, the internet is the first and possibly the only chance for an attorney to showcase his or her credibility and experience to a potential client. It is no exaggeration that the internet has made it a more competitive market to capture clients in industries across the board, and the legal field is no exception to this trend. For this reason, a lawyer’s online reputation is critical. Below is some information on how attorneys can improve their image on the internet, according to the American Bar Association (“ABA”) Journal.

Reputation Management

Whether or not you are an attorney seeking clients, online reputation management is a critical aspect of any business. For lawyers, potential clients are particularly careful and diligent about using information found online so that they can choose an attorney whom they can trust and is worthy of their money and time. According to iLawyerMarketing, as many as 98% of potential clients perform online searches, primarily on Google, and look at reviews prior to deciding to hire an attorney. A prior study found that if reviews for one attorney are higher or better than another, a potential client was willing to travel further to meet with that attorney at his or her office.

Not surprisingly, the best way to defend your online reputation is to have a strategic offense. Three steps you can take today to improve this include:

 

Monitor, monitor, monitor: Perform a search of yourself and/or your firm and pay close attention to the content on the first couple of pages that appear. Data shows that most people stay on the first Google search page, while 75% on the first one or two results of that page, and only 7% move on past the first page. Controlling your top results will provide a good first impression to others. Ways you can monitor your online reputation include:

 

 Ask for client reviews: Unfortunately, one bad online review can have long-term negative effects on your firm’s reputation. Because attorneys have several profession-specific review sites, such as Avvo, FindLaw, Martindale-Hubell, and Lawyers.com, they must be regularly updated. Many attorney review sites allow lawyers to claim their own profiles and add content to show off practice focus areas and expertise. Attorneys can encourage clients to leave online reviews of the legal work performed including:

  • Star ratings of service;
  • Sharing feedback of experience with attorney;
  • Stating whether they would hire you again.

 

Crank out content: In order to stand out on the first page of a Google search, your website must be professional and highlight your legal specialties. In addition to this, however, an attorney can and should regularly contribute to the industry. This can include legal blogs, bylined articles, op-eds, links to recent interviews, feature articles, and brief commentary to name a few. This is because thoughtful content in nearly any form can directly impact lead generation. Research by marketing firm Impact revealed that firms with online content generate nearly 90% more leads than those without it.

 

For more information on this topic, visit the ABA Journal website.

For additional legal career articles, check out Creating opportunities in your legal career in 2021

Creating Opportunities in Your Legal Career in 2021

Despite the world continuing the second year of a global pandemic, there are ways to create opportunities for your legal career in 2021, according to an article published by the American Bar Association (“ABA”) Journal. The feature is based on an interview of a co-founder and CEO of a legal recruiting firm and provides great tips on how to move your career forward even in today’s environment.

Tips to Follow

 

According to a leading legal recruiter, the industry has changed significantly over the past few decades. One pivotal factor in this change was the birth of social networks. 20 years ago, the recruiting business was paper-based and time-consuming. Online recruiting tools did not exist and LinkedIn — a huge game changer in career development — had yet to be born. Couple this with a significant change in how people communicate and the speed in which a recruiter must identify and coordinate with candidates is critical.

 

Important trends in the legal recruiting industry, according to the ABA Journal interview include:

Positions in highest demand: While demand does change from year to year, as of early 2021 the most important positions are focused on revenue generation. This is because businesses are seeking income — which is important even when times are good — due to the global pandemic’s impact on their organizations. For these reasons hot jobs include strong sales professionals, those with data privacy experience, as well as project managers.

 

Qualities and experience employers want: Many companies are not just looking for talent that will strengthen their business and its teams, but they also want stability. This means that individuals who may have job hopped throughout their career may be less attractive to a potential employer. Likewise, companies are considering a candidate’s ability to embrace the culture as an important hiring factor. Some companies are being even more cautious on who they bring into the remote work environment.

 

Career advancement: Company leaders, department heads, recruiters, and talent managers all look at LinkedIn first to make an initial decision on a candidate, so make sure your profile is perfected. This means highlighting key areas that are attractive to potential employers, modeling your description after those you want to emulate, sharing personal interests that may relate to the role, and obtaining certifications or other skills if appropriate.

 

Interviewing tips: During an interview, be sure to emphasize how you fit with the company based on your background, experience, and interests in addition to your skills. Come into the conversation with familiarity with the organization and its team so you can highlight your compatibilities. Finally, because stability is important, if you get the job and it is challenging, try to find ways to adapt instead of leaving. Try to stay in any role for at least two years — but three years is better.

 

The entirety of the interview can be accessed at Reinventing Professionals.