There have been several technology- and security-related developments in the court-reporting industry that affect how attorneys receive and use court-reporting products and services.
In 2012 I wrote an update to a previous article, “The Wired Reporter,” which reprinted the original article and footnoted all the changes and additions that had occurred in the ensuing years. So, while the court-reporting world has not experienced anything as earth shattering as the Computer-Aided Transcription that came along in the 1970s, there continues to be tremendously helpful technological additions.
Below I highlight some new additions and follow them up with a comprehensive listing of services you should expect to receive from your tech-advanced reporter and reporting firm.
HIPAA and confidentiality: In the past few years, the federal government has emphasized the importance of keeping protected health information (PHI) and other protected or confidential information out of the hands of the ill-intentioned. As many of you may have experienced, it doesn’t take much for email accounts to be hacked.
The standard way of sending deposition transcripts — using email attachments — is now deemed risky. Faced with debilitating fines for HIPAA violations, court reporters have moved to using encrypted web portals or cloud transfers.
Mobile videoconferencing: Remote-videoconferencing technology continues to be impressive, including the way in which it lets users send messages among various types of portable devices (iPads, notebook and desktop computers, etc.), as well as standard videoconferencing equipment (Polycom, Cisco and Lifesize).
Thanks to this technology, it’s now quite easy to take a deposition from someone in a remote place. This can be done using video, audio and real-time text streams, as well as exhibit presentations, and all from the comfort of your office, home, etc.
What’s more, when an unforeseen event disrupts your travel plans, you can now use a smartphone to make a last-minute connection. To do this, reporting firms tend to use products that, unlike Skype or Google Hangouts, are encrypted and have extra security and stability features.
Mark, share and annotate exhibits remotely: Dealing with exhibit presentations in a remote deposition is becoming increasingly easy. This technology, although it’s still hard to become fully comfortable with without putting in a least a little practice time, can save time. Products such as Live Deposition, Stream Text Legal, and eDepoze are among the leaders in the field. As mentioned, these can be incorporated into a remote deposition using live video.
Standard videoconference center and mobile videoconferencing: The debate over whether it’s better to use a videoconferencing room or a remote computer is never an easy one.
Our experience with computer videoconferencing has taught us that this service depends greatly on the quality of an Internet connection and the compatibility of each user’s system. Personal devices, largely because of their cost, can seem like an attractive option. But they are often not as reliable or enjoyable as HD videoconferencing equipment. Equipment of this type is often linked together using stable, reliable, business-grade Internet connections that are typically supported under service contracts guarantying 99 percent uptime (or the carrier is required to pay the customer.)
Online full-text search of transcripts and exhibits: Most court-reporting companies now use secure online repositories. These give lawyers access to entire cases at any time, from anywhere in the world and through the use of almost any device that can connect to the Internet. Repositories are based in the cloud, which prevents lawyers from having to store their files on a computer or server. Another benefit is that repositories allow lawyers to travel without having to cart along boxes full of documents, or to have to suffer the fear of forgetting important documents.
Scheduling improvements: Lawyers and their staff can now schedule depositions, view, print or download transcripts, exhibits and invoices, and view a calendar of depositions that have already been scheduled.
Online case management: This allows scheduling and sharing of case calendars and a sequentially numbered master-exhibit list (in addition to the online tasks listed above), all of which are typically available from your reporting firm without charge.
Most firms provide files for standard litigation-support products such as Case Notebook (formerly LiveNote), and CT Summation, or the cloud-based NextPoint, all of which provide text-search and document-organization services. These are available for purchase and subscription.
And here’s a piece of advice concerning LiveNote/Case Notebook: If you’re using either of these programs, be certain to order .LEF files for LiveNote, and .PTZ files for Case Notebook, or you will risk losing functionality.
What you can and should expect from your court reporter: Here is a list of standard court-reporting products. If your firm does not offer these, know that others do, and you should consider changing.
- Realtime translation, on-site WiFi and streamed remotely.
- Video depositions with synchronized text.
- Videoconferencing and remote location reservation service.
- Mobile, cloud-based depositions with real-time text, video and audio streaming — allowing for multiple location attendees.
- Expedited and daily copy services.
- HIPAA point: 24/7 online secure access to all transcripts, exhibits, invoices and deposition calendar, viewable from anywhere on all fixed or portable devices. Transcripts and exhibits should be either downloaded from a secure portal or sent using cloud-link. The transmission of unencrypted emails is risky and is not recommended.
- Full-text repository search of all transcripts and text-based exhibits.
- Transcript file formats: ASCII, PDF (with and without linked exhibits), Word, E-transcript, .lef, .ptz. Have the ability to provide all file formats litigation support products require.
- Exhibit sharing. Sequentially numbered master exhibit library access for all attorneys of record.
Robert Gramann is the president of Milwaukee-based Gramann Reporting Ltd. He can be reached at 414-272-7878 or firstname.lastname@example.org.