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Blog Category: Arbitration

Automation and the Court Reporting Industry

Automation and the Court Reporting Industry

As technology continues to advance, fears of robots replacing humans has increased across many industries as corporations look to automate certain job functions to reduce costs and stay on top of trends. This McKinsey report detailed which professions have the most potential for automation, and it may surprise you that court reporting and the legal industry only had a 16% chance. While the report was published in 2016, and the legal space continues to evolve and incorporate litigation technology, it’s evident that the court reporting industry has still maintained a strong need for human operation.

“Legal proceedings can get heated with people talking over one another, or you may have a witness that mumbles or has a strong accent,” says Sandi Wilson, CSR (CA), FPR, CER, CDR, senior director of litigation technology. “You must have a person there to keep decorum, administer an oath, mark exhibits, identify speakers and ask for questions to be repeated if needed, among other responsibilities. Technology is always going to need that human touch for a 100% verbatim record.”

The need for this human element demonstrates that it would be impossible to fully automate the court reporting industry. However, across the nation, there is a critical shortage of stenographic reporters which only continues to worsen year after year, due to low enrollments at stenography schools and retiring reporters leaving the field. These two factors make it harder and harder to meet the growing demand for stenographic reporters.

This is where litigation technology and digital court reporters can assist and serve as a way to supplement the shortage. When digital court reporting was first introduced, many were unsure about it, but they have slowly started to embrace the new technology and new type of (human) court reporter.

“There is a misconception of what digital court reporting actually is and what it has to offer; I think early on, some of the methods were not as advanced as they are today, and the reporters were not always using quality equipment and technology, so opinions were formed based on the earlier methods of digital reporting,” says Wilson. “Today, litigation technology is state-of-the-art. The digital reporting method is no longer the lesser method of court reporting; it’s simply a different method of court reporting with the end product being a verbatim transcript.”

As litigation technology continues to expand, court reporters have access to new programs and functions that they may not have had before.

“Technology is only going to make a court reporter’s job easier; with artificial intelligence and automatic speech recognition programs, it helps reporters work smarter, not harder,” says Wilson. “For example, a reporter or transcriber manually typing up a proceeding will take longer than a reporter or transcriber using ASR or AI to make the first pass on creating the transcript. With ASR and AI translation in the 80-to-90% range, the reporter or transcriber can scope and proofread the proceeding, bringing it to 100% accuracy in almost half the time.”

Ultimately, Wilson believes that the best-case scenario for the court reporting industry is a combination of amazing technology and a well-trained professional.

“Rather than focusing on the method of court reporting, we need to focus on the professional behind the method,” explains Wilson. “If a reporter has a great work ethic, is trained well, keeps up with current technology and is knowledgeable of legal proceedings and decorum, they will have job security for the rest of their career regardless of the reporting method they use to capture the record.”

To learn more about digital court reporting, check out our informational video.

Upcoming Deposition in Japan? Experience Planet Depos’ Atarimae for Yourself

Upcoming Deposition in Japan? Experience Planet Depos’ Atarimae for Yourself

Even though the 2022 World Cup has come to an end, some memorable moments left a lasting impression. Japanese soccer players and fans made headlines during their time in Qatar due to their unique tidying actions. Interviews with Japanese fans showed that their decision to clean up after themselves and other fans boils down to a simple term, “atarimae.”

Atarimae is a Japanese term that encompasses the idea that something should be natural, obvious or commonplace. For the Japanese, it was just natural for them to leave the World Cup stadium and dressing room in a cleaner state than how they found it.

At Planet Depos, our promise to deliver best-in-class customer service is our “atarimae.” It’s naturally ingrained in us to provide the best experience possible when scheduling a deposition or providing other court reporting services.

Our atarimae doesn’t stop at the borders though. As a global court reporting company, Planet Depos prides itself on providing impeccable, white-glove service to all whether a deposition is in-person or remote, domestic or international.

This is especially true when scheduling an international deposition in Japan, as it can be difficult to navigate the local protocols and strict requirements and regulations. That’s where we come in.

“Japan has strict regulations regarding where you can take depositions; in other countries, you can take a deposition at a law firm, or a conference room at a hotel,” explains Meredith Weisel, senior scheduling manager. “But in Japan, depositions can only be taken at the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo or the U.S. Consulate in Osaka, and there is one conference room for use at each location.”

Approval for conference room use at either location can take up to six to eight weeks, as availability is scarce. To help with this, the Embassy and Consulate are now allowing remote and hybrid depositions with their permission. Whenever you are inside the Embassy or Consulate though, there are additional rules to follow, like strict entry and exit times, and a designated lunch hour that must be adhered to.

Luckily, Planet Depos has court reporters and legal videographers that live full-time in Japan that are well-versed in these protocols and are happy to share their knowledge. We also have close relationships with interpreters based in Japan.

“Our on-the-ground court reporters and videographers in Japan can do it all, including Realtime, same-day rough ASCIIs and expedited transcripts,” says Weisel. “They have perfected the art of providing crystal-clear audio to remote attendees during hybrid depositions in Japan, which is invaluable to everyone involved. They are also great at providing advice to clients on the whole process, double checking that they have the equipment and resources they need and even offering lunch recommendations to those involved in a deposition!”

If you have an upcoming deposition in Japan, we invite you to experience Planet Depos’ atarimae for yourself. For more information or to schedule, contact us at international@planetdepos.com or schedule your international deposition online.

Making the Case to Settle

Making the Case to Settle

According to the American Bar Association, most civil cases are settled before trial by mutual agreement between the parties. It is estimated as many as 80-90% of cases settle before trial, usually after the discovery process. Why is that? Counsel can make intelligent predictions of the outcome of a trial once discovery is completed. Trial is expensive, and the outcome less certain than a mutually agreed-upon settlement. Many will choose to avoid the further expense, and possible emotional toll, if counsel is telling them to consider settling instead.

Depositions play a huge role in the discovery process and are instrumental in making the case for or against settling. The court reporting services selected for depositions can help make a compelling argument either way. Skilled attorneys reviewing transcripts and videos are well-situated to assess the chances for a win in court and advise their clients accordingly. Here are key services to consider scheduling for your depositions that can influence that important decision.

Realtime translation. Realtime is the near-instant translation of the court reporter’s shorthand into English. Realtime translation is performed by court reporters who can deliver an instant verbatim record of the proceeding at an extraordinarily high degree of accuracy. This technology phenomenon allows attorneys and their teams to view the testimony in real time, as it is being spoken. The huge benefit here is being able to instantly highlight text for the purposes of follow-up questioning, impeachment, and the like.

Realtime is immensely valuable, and many attorneys when they experience realtime for the first time, are spellbound, even asking reporters for demonstrations of “how do you do that?!” after the deposition. It is important to note that this incredible service is not provided by all reporters, and if you want to schedule realtime for your deposition, you should let the agency know immediately, as these skilled reporters book up fast. Realtime streaming is also available to remote members of your team.

The rough draft. Having the unofficial transcript within hours of the proceeding contributes to more thorough preparation for further depositions. More prep leads to a more efficient deposition, and the cycle keeps going and giving. You can also aid the reporter in delivering an accurate rough draft by keeping these key tips in mind.

  • Provide key terminology and spellings to the reporter
  • Provide any prep materials that may be useful to the reporter
  • Admonish the witness to wait for the full question before answering

Video. An accurate transcript is essential to your case. Even the most accurate transcript doesn’t quite tell the full story. Stark black and white questions and answers are compelling, but the witness’ whole demeanor can make or break their testimony. While the reporter takes down the spoken record, the videographer captures all the non-verbal communication, the nuances that the transcript cannot communicate. These non-verbal cues, revealed on video, like realtime and the rough, can lead to follow-up questioning, open a new line of questioning, and ultimately can contribute greatly to either impeaching or supporting a witness’ testimony.

Court reporting professionals are neutral parties, whose job it is to record what happens during a legal proceeding. Attorneys frame their questions and select exhibits and documents to build their case. When an unbiased team takes care of capturing the record, attorneys can evaluate the strength of their case. They can determine the merits and deficits in the opposing side’s case. They can make a fair estimate of further expenses involved in litigation. They can weigh all the factors and discuss options with their client. They can give their best, informed recommendation to their client.

Planet Depos has been scheduling depositions and legal proceedings for over a decade. To read more about how court reporting helps your case, see the PD blog page. To schedule your next proceeding, contact Planet Depos at 888.433.3767 or schedule online.

Remote Depositions Remain a Popular Option After Covid

Remote Depositions Remain a Popular Option After Covid

In-person depositions are on the rise again, but remote depositions are here to stay. Even though remote depositions are no longer the only option, they remain a very convenient and increasingly efficient option. As a Planet Depos survey recently demonstrated, many attorneys predict that they will continue to use the remote deposition option, or hybrid, because of the many benefits it avails. Here are the reasons for remote depositions’ popularity.

Remote depositions are extremely convenient. Scheduling depositions requires coordinating many calendars – calendars of people who are very busy all the time. If you don’t need to get all these people into the same room, that gives you greater flexibility. If all parties can participate from their own office or home, that increases the availability because it removes any travel time from their tight schedule.

Remote depositions offer clients cost savings. With all deposition travel eliminated, the related expense is removed from your client’s account. The travel fees and billable time spent in travel can make an appreciable difference to a cost-conscious client. Many firms noted that the cost savings to clients was a significant benefit they appreciated about remote depositions, and one that their clients noticed and embraced.

Remote depositions have become more secure and seamless than ever. Technology responded well to the pressure applied in early 2020, making huge advances to support so many working from home. Suddenly everyone was meeting online, and remote platforms stepped up to the plate to improve the experience for their users. Likewise, court reporting professionals have adapted quickly, as they have throughout the history of the profession. They pivoted quickly to get up to speed on all the technology to keep depositions moving forward, offering all the services available for in-person depositions so law firms would have what they needed for their case.

Remote depositions offer law firms time savings. For attorneys and paralegals with heavy workloads, time saved makes an enormous impact. This “additional” time means they can devote more time to trial preparation, filing paperwork with the courts, and other crucial casework. Their clients appreciate the time savings as well. Wanting more hours in the day is a universal desire, and remote depositions bring attendees a little closer to the realization of that dream.

Remote international depositions are simple and offer huge cost and time savings to attorneys and their clients. International travel is pricey. Jet lag (both ways!) can require a recovery day – more time taken from case preparation. If not traveling abroad for multiple depositions, remote international depositions make good sense. If the reporter can be in the same location as the witness, all the better, and an international court reporting agency can make that happen for you.

Remote depositions are extremely versatile. All participants could be remote, or one or a few attendees could be remote while all other parties are in the same room. This again offers greater flexibility for scheduling if, for example, an attorney can’t quite squeeze in the travel time to attend the deposition. Send this one attorney a link to join the deposition from his office uptown while everyone else is in a conference room downtown. Whatever the reason they can’t make it to the deposition, a party can still attend from wherever they are, as long as they have stable internet and a connecting device.

Planet Depos was scheduling and covering remote depositions long before the pandemic, even in locations as remote as Alice Springs, Australia. For more tips on remote depositions, check out the PD blog. To schedule your next proceeding, either in-person or remote, contact Planet Depos at 888.433.3767 or schedule online.

The Final Transcript: Tips to Make it Count

The Final Transcript: Tips to Make it Count

The final transcript is critically important to attorneys. It is the very reason you hire a court reporter for your deposition. The final certified transcript may be used in court to call a witness’ veracity into question, for example. Delivery of the final transcript must be prompt, and it must be accurate. Every court reporter works efficiently toward this goal. Each participant in the deposition can aid in reaching the goal of a timely, accurate transcript. Here is the timeline of what those actions are.

What to do before the deposition:

The legal team should send all prep materials it has available to the court reporter. The more case-specific terminology and proper names the court reporter has prior to the proceeding, the better. This eliminates back-and-forth between the reporter/reporting agency and your team trying to get spellings following the proceeding. Overall, it makes for a quicker, more streamlined process for the reporter, resulting in on-time delivery of your correct final transcript. Prep materials can include such documents as listed below:

  • Notices
  • Previous transcripts
  • Exhibits

Working with the same court reporting agency throughout the entirety of your case does simplify the prep materials task. Your agency will have all the previous transcripts and exhibits in the case and should have all the notices as well. You would then only send any additional materials you determine would be beneficial to the court reporter.

The legal team can help the reporter ensure accuracy by sending spellings of any subject matter-relevant terms and proper names. This comes back to streamlining the process and ensuring accuracy of the final, from the title page, through the appearance page, all the way to the reporter’s certificate.

Every participant should test with a technician prior to every remote deposition. While this does not apply to in-person depositions, this is vital to the efficacy of the remote deposition. Each participant needs to test their internet connection and speed, as well as audio and video. This is also the time for people not as comfortable with remote technology to familiarize themselves with the platform, so they are prepared on the day of the deposition. This eliminates delays and interruptions.

Each participant should also log in early for a remote deposition to do a quick check of audio and video. For in-person depositions, parties should arrive a few minutes early to get situated.

What to do during the deposition:

Give the witness clear instructions. Most people don’t give depositions regularly and will at times slip into conversational speech, so remind them to avoid the tendency. Let them know the court reporter is capturing a verbatim record and outline how to help the reporter do so in an effective manner.

  • Wait for the attorney to finish the question before answering
  • Listen to the question
  • Pause before answering the question to give your attorney a chance to object
  • Give verbal answers to questions – reporters cannot take down nods or shakes of the head
  • Ask for breaks if you need them so you don’t become flustered and have difficulty focusing on and answering questions

Check in with the court reporter on breaks. Keep in mind the reporter is already working on the transcript on these breaks, so lengthy pleasantries are not necessary. But do ask them if the pace is ok, if they need any additional spellings and other quick housekeeping notes. If you know you or the witness speak very quickly, or quietly, or the matter at hand has a lot of specific, technical terminology, make it a habit to check in with the reporter.  They will definitely appreciate the gesture.

Depositions run smoothly when all parties are prepared. Taking the little bit of extra time to prepare has a big pay-off, as there will be fewer interruptions and/or delays during the deposition and an accurate final transcript delivered on time.

Planet Depos reporters have centuries of experience combined. Whatever the subject matter, they have covered it extensively. To schedule expert coverage of your next proceeding, contact Planet Depos at 888.433.3767 or schedule online.

Depositions in the United Kingdom Post-Covid

Depositions in the United Kingdom Post-Covid

The U.K. re-opened earlier this year, leaving very few Covid-19 restrictions still in place. What does this mean for U.S. attorneys and their U.K. depositions? In-person depositions are back in the U.K., hybrid depositions are now easier to schedule, and fully remote depositions remain an option, as they always have been. Here are the details on depositions in the U.K. post-Covid.

Is prior permission required to conduct a deposition in the U.K.?

No. The U.K. is a party to The Hague Evidence Convention, but they do not require prior permission to depose a willing witness. Nor do they impose requirements/restrictions regarding where depositions may be held.

Where can you reserve a conference room?

Reserving space for your deposition is as straightforward as it was through early 2020. Tell your court reporting firm the city, specifying if one area is more convenient than another, and they will reserve the optimal space. Should the location have any health or safety-related guidelines, your court reporting firm will communicate them to all parties attending in person.

Are court reporters attending depositions in person?

Yes. Court reporters have been attending in-person depositions for a while in the U.K. This is excellent news as it is always ideal to have the court reporter present with the witness, particularly if the deposition is interpreted.

Pre-Covid, U.K. court reporters would book very quickly, and far in advance. These expert stenographers are in high demand throughout the U.K., and they keep full calendars. Keep in mind that they do also travel quite often to cover depositions and arbitrations throughout the rest of Europe. Though the schedule is not yet back to pre-Covid tightness, work is steadily increasing for U.K. reporters. You should schedule your deposition coverage as early as possible to ensure you have a reporter.

Could a U.S. reporter travel to the U.K. for the deposition?

No. The U.K. has very strict protections in place for their court reporters. Any non-U.K. citizen stenographer entering the country with stenography equipment runs the risk of detainment and confiscation of their professional equipment. You will need to schedule a U.K. court reporter for any depositions taking place in the U.K. Your international court reporting agency should make this quite easy, but as mentioned previously, it is best to schedule as far in advance as possible.

Where should the interpreter be?

The interpreter should always be in the presence of the witness if feasible. This ensures accurate interpretation and a more seamless deposition, with fewer interruptions to repeat information for clarification. The U.K. is a truly diverse nation, speaking many languages, and there is an interpreter for everyone. Interpreters, like court reporters, tend to be busy because they are in high demand. As soon as you determine an interpreter is required, let your court reporting agency know the language and dialect so they can book your interpreter.

Should the videographer be with the witness?

Ideally, the reporter, videographer and interpreter will all be in the same location as the witness. As Covid has demonstrated, it is possible to record quality video with a remote videographer. The court reporting agency can make it happen for you in the U.K. whichever way you prefer. Videographers also keep tight schedules, so if you opt for an in-person videographer, you will want to reserve your videographer as early as you can.

What are the travel requirements for U.S. citizens flying into the U.K.?

If you wish to attend a U.K. deposition in person, getting there will be as easy as international travel gets. The United Kingdom makes an appealing destination for many reasons, including low-key entry requirements.

  • Passport must be valid for the duration of your planned stay
  • One blank passport page required
  • No visa required for U.S. citizens staying less than six months
  • No vaccinations required

Remote depositions are and will continue to be a viable option for U.K. depositions.

Should there be no U.K. reporter available, for example, you can schedule a U.S. court reporter to attend remotely. Parties will need to agree beforehand to stipulate that the reporter, though not in the presence of the witness, may administer the oath. They will also need to agree to waive objections to the validity of the deposition due to the remote administration of the oath. A remote deposition is an option for those with health concerns as well. With the advances in remote technology over the past two years, international remote depositions have come a long way.

It is good to have options, and flexibility is improving with international depositions. As international travel increases so will in-person international depositions. Partner with a court reporting agency with real global presence to guarantee expert coverage of all the details of your case. Coordinating international depositions requires finesse. The international court reporting firm has the expertise, as well as reporters, videographers, and interpreters living all around the world to keep your case moving forward, wherever it takes you.

Planet Depos has been covering international depositions for over a decade. We have reporting professionals living throughout the world with experience in all case matters. For more information or to schedule your international depositions, contact Planet Depos International at international@planetdepos.com. You can also schedule international depositions online.

 

 

International Travel Alert! In-Person Depositions Can Resume in Korea

International Travel Alert! In-Person Depositions Can Resume in Korea

Korea has recently made it possible for U.S. attorneys to hold in-person depositions once again. Visitors from the U.S. and other visa-exempt countries can enter Korea with no quarantine period, provided they meet certain criteria. The criteria were relaxed somewhat in April, making it much easier for U.S. attorneys to enter Korea for depositions.

Here is what you need to know:

There is no visa requirement for U.S. citizens. Korea is part of the U.S. Visa Waiver Program (VWP). In short, this program enables U.S. citizens to visit Korea with no visa for up to 90 days or less if traveling for tourism, business meetings, conference attendance, or a family visit. On reciprocity, Korean citizens can visit the U.S. for the same reasons without a visa. This means U.S. attorneys do not need a visa to enter Korea for the purpose of taking depositions.

Visa-free travelers do need an ETA. What is an ETA? An ETA is an electronic travel authorization. This particular ETA is referred to as the K-ETA, for Korea. The requirements are straightforward.

  • Travelers must apply for their K-ETA at least 24 hours before boarding their flight to Korea.
    • When applying, have handy:
      • Your passport – you will need to enter your passport number
      • Your email address so you can receive notification of K-ETA status
      • Your credit/debit card to pay the $10 application fee
      • A photo of your face
    • The K-ETA is required in order to receive a boarding pass.
    • The K-ETA is valid for a period of two years.
    • The K-ETA exempts visitors from submitting an arrival card, expediting the entry immigration process.

The K-ETA site does provide a very helpful FAQ page, should you have additional questions regarding the process.

Quarantine guidelines have changed. As of April 1st, even those who were vaccinated outside of Korea can forgo quarantine. To be exempt from quarantine, the below requirements must be met:

  • The traveler must be fully vaccinated.
    • Fully vaccinated is defined as having received all recommended doses of the WHO-approved COVID-19 vaccine, +14 days.
    • The exemption lasts 180 days from vaccination date.
    • If it has been more than 180 days since full vaccination, the traveler must receive a booster.
  • The traveler must enter their vaccination history into Q-CODE, the quarantine information pre-entry system.
  • The traveler must take a total of three (3) COVID-19 tests.
    • They must take a PCR Test no sooner than 48 hours before departure from the U.S.
    • They must take a second PCR Test within 24 hours of arrival in Korea.
    • They must take a Rapid Test within six to seven days of arrival in Korea.

Some pre-travel steps remain the same. It is recommended you subscribe to Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP), which keeps you in the know on safety and security. STEP also helps the U.S. Embassy, as well as family, to get in touch with you should there be an emergency abroad. You should look up any travel advisories for your destination as well, which the U.S. Department of State provides on their site.

Planet Depos has been covering depositions around the world for over a decade. There is a Planet Depos court reporting team living in Korea, as well as other Planet Depos teams throughout Asia, including several interpreters with abundant IP experience. For more information on scheduling your in-person (or remote) depositions in Korea, contact Planet Depos International Scheduling at 888.433.3767 or international@planetdepos.com. You can even schedule your international depositions online.

 

 

Tips to Help You Handle Workplace Stress

Tips to Help You Handle Workplace Stress

The legal world is a stressful place. Paperwork, deadlines, details, confidential information, anxious clients – this and more is enough to stress out anyone, even seasoned attorneys, paralegals and support staff. Tight deadlines and reams of paperwork are unavoidable in the legal world, however. Many legal professionals do their best to power through, with no stress management plan in place.

Ignored workplace stress has very real side effects on your health – none of them positive. Stress often results in poor diet choices, such as a fast-food habit, too much caffeine, sugar, etc. Stress can result in physical pain and worse. The real, physical effects of stress include:

  • Headache
  • Muscle tension and aches
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Poor sleep or insomnia
  • Irritability

These discomforts can drive people to further unhealthy choices, like tobacco use, or zoning out in front of the tv, adding fuel to the fire. Ultimately, unchecked stress can lead to serious health issues, e.g., high blood pressure, obesity, and even heart disease, the number one cause of death in the United States. Stress need not lead to such dire results, however. Stress is a fact of life to be taken seriously and dealt with appropriately.

There are many healthy tactics you can use to manage stress. Here is a short list of suggestions.

  • Take breaks. These can be very short if deadlines dictate!
    • Do a lap around the office/home/neighborhood. This provides both a quick mental break and movement for a little endorphin push.
    • Stretch! A couple minutes of stretching can make a big difference in your mood.
    • Look out a window and take a few deep breaths, maybe give your neck a little stretch, or just take your time drinking some water.
    • Go outside for a few minutes with a cup of coffee. Enjoy fresh air and quiet.

Different studies suggest different intervals, so figure out what works for you and your workload and start taking little breaks to refresh. Don’t waste the break scrolling on your phone. Rest your eyes and avoid unpleasant news notifications, etc.

  • Move more. Work and technology have made us a very sedentary society, unfortunately. Sitting too long is no good for your health, so get up! There are many different types of exercise, so there is bound to be at least one you will enjoy. Some activities are especially good for working up a sweat and dissolving daily stresses. These include:
    • Dancing! Who doesn’t enjoy dancing? Maybe not in front of other people, but most of us love to dance. Turn up your favorite music and break out your best moves.
    • Walking is fantastic low-impact cardio work. It is also a great time to organize your thoughts, work out a problem, or just unplug and enjoy nature.
    • Kickboxing is a great way to “attack” stress. Literally punch and kick it out. Kickboxing also requires coordination and focus, so you’re distracted from daily worries and get a real mental break while engaging in a healthy activity.
    • Team sports! Grab a friend for a tennis match, make a regular date with some buddies for basketball, whatever game you and yours like. You get to be active and enjoy the company of your friends, a surefire way to melt anxiety and calories at the same time.
    • Yoga requires a lot of focus and encourages deep breathing, both good for stress relief, as you are focusing on your posture rather than your problems, and deep breathing has a very calming effect. Yoga also stretches your muscles, releasing tension you may be holding in your neck, shoulders, low back and hips, areas stress loves to creep into and torment.
  • Talk to someone. Stress can be overwhelming, and any human can relate. Talk to a trusted friend. Release some of the pent-up frustration. They may have advice or just a good ear and sympathetic word. They may be able to see if you need to talk to someone else, like a professional who can help you better cope. Again, stress should not be treated lightly, and it’s ok to need extra help!
  • Sleep. Stress is an exhausting phenomenon. Don’t let it wear you down and weaken your immune system. Get some rest.
  • Do something you love. Hobbies are beneficial. They are an opportunity to get some “me time” and an instant mood boost. It is never too late to discover a new hobby to love. Learning a new activity relieves stress by providing another healthy distraction and the feeling of accomplishment as you master a musical instrument, for example, or see your vegetable garden’s first harvest!

Stress is a frustrating element of work. It has benefits, in that it gives you an adrenalin kick that can spur you to meet your deadlines or put in the extra effort and give a terrific presentation. However, stress can very quickly lead to severe consequences, if not properly managed. The past two years have been particularly stressful for many, reminding all of us of the need to take all aspects of health seriously. Take the time to tackle your stress and feel the weight lift off your shoulders. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain!

Planet Depos has been taking the stress out of depositions for a decade and counting. For more tips and information on all topics court reporting, from international depositions to remote deposition videography, check out the PD Blog. To schedule your next proceeding with no worries, contact Planet Depos at scheduling@planetdepos.com, or schedule online.

Keeping the Record Sealed: Secure your Case Information and Documents

Keeping the Record Sealed: Secure your Case Information and Documents

Security and confidentiality are paramount in legal matters. Even if a case matter has no protective order or confidential designation, you don’t want your clients’ information compromised in any way. It is a non-negotiable that your court reporting agency keeps your information and your clients’ information private. Remote platforms, repositories, sharing software, etc., need to be secure. Your agency should be completely transparent about security measures in place, including encryption, host platforms and the like.

Think about the most confidential files in your intellectual property matter, for example. Where would they be most vulnerable? The court reporting agency’s repository hosts all the transcripts, videos, and exhibits for every deposition and possibly through the trial. Additionally, if you are using their exhibit sharing platform, you must consider how secure that platform is, as sensitive documents containing proprietary information and even source code will be stored in and shared through the program. The dark world of virtual theft has become more and more sophisticated. Ransomware attacks have increased dramatically in the last two years, and law firms have become a target for these nefarious agents. It is more important than ever to scrutinize the security practices of your court reporting agency. All hosting platforms must have ironclad impenetrability.

What security measures should you look for? These are crucial:

  • Encryption
  • Strong password policies
  • Multi-factor authentication
  • Protective order compliance

What is encryption? Encryption converts data into a code for the purpose of prohibiting unauthorized access. You want your files protected in this manner when they are being emailed and when they are in virtual storage. Look for 256-bit AES (Advanced Encryption Standard) Encryption, which ensures high security. AES is fast, flexible, and safe. 256-bit AES is considered “military grade” encryption and is adopted by the U.S. government and other intelligence organizations worldwide. It is used in many applications as well, including VPNs (Virtual Private Network, an encrypted connection from a device to a network), enormously important in security. Are files encrypted both in transit and at rest? The answer should be yes. You want all your information fully protected.

How are the password policies? It is possible to create a strong password on your own initiative, but are you forced to create a strong password by their policy? The court reporting firm needs to prioritize security, and this will be reflected in how difficult they make it to unlock your login.

  • How many characters are required?
  • Do you have to include a number and special character?
  • Do you need both upper- and lower-case letters in your password?
  • How often do you need to update your password?

A good rule of thumb, password requirements should encompass the following:

  • At least eight (8) characters
  • At least one upper case letter
  • At least one lower case letter
  • At least one special character
  • At least one numerical value

The more complex your password, the better. You should update your password periodically. Companies serious about protecting information have protocols prompting regular password updates. Planet Depos has written some helpful tips for creating solid passwords.

Multi-factor authentication gives your password extra teeth. Multi-factor authentication is sometimes referred to as two-step verification. In addition to the username and password, you need a second method to prove you are the person authorized to access the account. The initial factor is your username/password combination – something you know. The additional factor is something you have – your smartphone, for example, or an email account. When you correctly input the username and password, you’ll get a text or email with a code for you to enter, and only then can you access the account. Multi-factor authentication makes it more difficult for someone to break into your account, unless they have access to your second method of verification such as your cell phone or email. Multi-factor authentication is often only enabled for the first time you sign into an account from a new device, which you can then register to be recognized by the account in question.

The protective order is top priority. You want the order signed by all applicable parties and returned to you as quickly as possible. The order should be plainly followed, with correct designations used, and all emails appropriately labeled, transcripts redacted as needed, etc. If files need to be destroyed in the future, you should receive a response from the case manager immediately confirming receipt of the instructions, and notification when all files – transcript, video, exhibits, correspondence, and any other materials listed in the order – have been destroyed.

Security is crucial to your clients and must be strict throughout the duration of the case. All case information is valuable to your client, much of it very sensitive as well, so you need to review the systems and procedures that will be safeguarding that information. In this age of so much remote litigation, stronger infrastructure and protocols have evolved to add an extra layer of security.

Planet Depos has been supporting remote litigation with best-in-class court reporting all around the world for over a decade. Whether remote or in person, big or small case, PD reporters have the knowledge, experience, and technology to make it happen, while keeping all records safe and secure. For more tips on court reporting, remote depositions, and more, check out the PD blog. To schedule your next proceeding, contact Planet Depos at scheduling@planetdepos.com or schedule online.

 

Update on Depositions in Germany

Update on Depositions in Germany

After an unpredictable two years depositions may once again be taken in Germany! Stricter than some of its regional counterparts, Germany had indefinitely ceased in-person depositions due to Covid-19. As Covid-related restrictions ease across Europe, Germany has once again opened its doors to in-person depositions. With a detailed but manageable scheduling process, now is the best time to schedule depositions in Germany.

One of the stricter countries when it comes to depositions, German law prohibits the taking of in-person depositions in any location other than the U.S. Consulate in Frankfurt. Video and telephonic depositions are strictly verboten as well, so one should plan to have all participants appear in Frankfurt. It is advisable to reach out to the Consulate at germanyacs@state.gov as soon as possible with proposed deposition date/s. The German Government requires approximately 6 weeks to review and approve depositions – it is wise to start the scheduling process as far in advance as possible.

Once your deposition date/s are approved you must share additional case information with the Consulate – the U.S. Consulate General will require payment by money order or certified bank check and a copy of the notice of deposition, including:

  • Case name
  • Docket number
  • Location of the U.S. Court where the case will be adjudicated
  • Full name of all witnesses, nationality, complete German home address(esses) and phone number
  • Function and relationship between the parties and the witnesses and the nature of their testimony
  • Brief description of the case with special focus on the appropriate standards of the U.S. procedural and substantive laws

Two weeks ahead of your deposition/s you will also need to share a full list of participants (including nationality and role!), and an extensively detailed list of each attendee’s electronic equipment.

Although the process is more involved than in most countries, depositions in Germany can be taken with plenty of foresight and preparation. Planet Depos works with many highly-experienced and talented court reporters, videographers, and interpreters across Europe – an advantage to scheduling early is securing the perfect team for your depositions in Germany!

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