In the days before COVID, when depositions were held in person, counsel would simply leave the room with their clients to have a private conversation. 

Now that we are working remotely, some are finding it difficult to connect with their clients.  We see private texting or the muting of microphones so they can have a private chat via a phone call.  Fortunately, there is an easy solution called breakout rooms.

The Host of the Zoom meeting can easily assign participants to breakout rooms.  Multiple breakout rooms can run simultaneously. Once in a breakout room, the discussion is completely private.  Only the participants invited to that specific breakout room can see and hear each other.  Uninvited people have no access to what is being said. 

Participants can return to the Zoom session on their own.  They can also be prompted to return to the session via a “ping” from the Host requesting their presence.

Breakout rooms are a valuable tool for all participants.  If Wong Associates is hosting, we can set this up for you.

Hyperlinked Exhibits, Litigation Support, Technology, Video Conferencing, Zoom

TECH TIP 12 – Hyperlinking Documents for Zoom Saves You Time

Document handling is the #1 question we receive from counsel.  How is it done?

In essence there are two options:

  • Send everyone hard copies or PDFs of the documents
  • Share the documents in Zoom
    • via Chat
    • via Share Screen

Early on counsel soon realized that there were certain issues with the first option, sending copies of documents to everyone ahead of time, the main one being that doing so could reveal their strategy.  Opposing counsel would also have time to review the documents in advance and potentially object to the document before it is even presented.  Not all documents would necessarily be marked either.  Further, the expense of printing and shipping documents to opposing counsel, the witness, and the court reporter could be substantial.  Sending PDFs would alleviate that expense, but the other issues would still remain.

The second option, sharing the documents in Zoom via Chat and Share Screen, is more popular, especially the Chat feature which is used by the majority of our clients. 

To utilize the Chat feature, documents in PDF format are sent to Wong Associates ahead of time to be hyperlinked.  We ask that they be labeled alphabetically (with brief document descriptions) so they can be pulled out in any order during examination and marked in numerical order without confusion.  For example, Document E could be marked as Exhibit 1; Document A could be marked as Exhibit 2.

Chat serves many purposes:

  • Each document has its own hyperlink.  One doesn’t know what documents and in what order they will be presented until the deposition is under way.
  • When counsel is ready to present a document, he simply copies the document description and hyperlink from a list and pastes it into Chat.
  • All participants click on the link, and the document appears on their computer.
  • Identification of the document and discussion ensues.
  • The document is marked as an exhibit.
  • Chat can be printed at the close of the deposition saving the hyperlinks and reporter markings.  It is a great verification tool.
  • Since Wong Associates has the documents, we digitally mark them post deposition.
  • Also note that if Wong Associates does the hyperlinking, the court reporters can help counsel with the document sharing.

Screen Share is a valuable tool as well.  No hyperlinking is necessary.  Some counsel prefer handling the sharing in lieu of using Chat.  Screen Share allows everyone to see a document at the same time, e.g., photograph, video clip.  Multi-page documents can also be shared.  Counsel can jump from one page to the next for discussion.  The biggest benefits of Screen Share are:

  • The document takes up the full screen in Zoom. You still have audio.
  • A document can be highlighted or annotated and then saved as an exhibit.

A disadvantage to Screen Share is that there is no way to save the “history” of what documents were viewed/shared like you can in Chat.  You must remember, if the court reporter is not handling document sharing, he is busy writing the testimony and doesn’t have time to save documents being discussed.  We’ve had a number of instances where counsel forgot what they marked and needed the reporter to send document descriptions to identify what was shared.  In one instance multiple emails were shared and marked, but there was no identifier of who sent the email, the date of the email, etc.  Extra care should always be taken with exhibit descriptions to ensure the most complete and accurate record possible.   

Wong Associates prefers hyperlinking, and clients who use the hyperlinks in Chat love the ease of use.  That being said, however you want to handle documents, our court reporters are well versed in document sharing should need assistance.

bots, cybersecurity, Malware, Phishing, ransomware, Technology

Don’t Click The Link!

by Linda Fifield

STARtech21 opened with “The Basics of Cybercrime and Cybersecurity” by Shoba Pillay, Partner, Jenner & Block. I was riveted the moment Attorney Pillay started speaking. The bad guys are out there. We need to know what to look out for and what tools we need to protect ourselves from becoming a victim.

We’ve all read about the security breaches with Equifax, Yahoo, Marriott, healthcare systems, schools, federal agencies, and the like. What are these cybercriminals looking for? How does this impact the individual, companies, or government agencies? By what means are these companies getting hacked?

The Equifax breach occurred between May through July 2017.  They discovered the breach and reported it in September 2017. Roughly 143 million people were affected.  The hackers grabbed credit information that consisted of names, addresses, DOB, social security numbers, driver’s license numbers, and credit card information. How could this possibly happen? The hackers knew of a vulnerability in the software that Equifax and other companies were using.  Equifax’s delay in updating the software allowed the hackers in.

We, ourselves, are open to phishing, malware, and bots every day we open our email or surf the net.  Phishing emails are sent from “trusted” companies hoping we’ll react to a link. A common hack is an email from a trusted vendor like Amazon thanking you for purchasing an item for $50 or UPS asking you to track a package. When you didn’t order anything or if you did, their hope is that you’ll click on a link to investigate the purchase.  Best case scenario, DON’T click on the provided link. Go straight to the vendor website and check your information from there.

Malware is a file that is downloaded onto your computer or smart device via a link or opening of an attachment. It can take over and infect your computer and network. A type of malware we’re all too familiar with is Ransomware.  Hackers are relying on one employee within a business to click on a bad link that puts a company network up for ransom.  You pay them back in untraceable Bitcoin, and they release your data.  Hospitals, schools, and government agencies are often victims of this type of malware. What precautions should you take? Have offsite redundant backups of your server. If you get hacked, chances are that you can restore an old backup. You might have lost some current data, but you aren’t victim to being locked out of your computer and/or paying the ransom.

Bots a/k/a web robots are considered the most dangerous threat on the Internet. Bots take over multiple computers and smart devices, often without your knowledge, to create a large network of computers to deliver spam, steal passwords, bring down networks, etc. Oftentimes you don’t even know that you’re infected. They use the network of computers to carry out distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks. The worst can actually take down websites. One of the most notable cases involved Elon Musk’s Tesla. Make sure you only go to trusted sites and always keep your antivirus software updated.

The deep web is an “invisible” web that people who don’t want their activities tracked by traditional search engines visit.  One small part of deep web is the dark web. The dark web is primarily used for illegal activities:  illegal drug sales, murder and maiming for hire, hacking software for sale, sale of stolen credit cards and passports, child pornography, and peddlers. These sites are often monitored by federal agencies, but it’s still scary knowing that something so sinister is out there. Pretty disturbing.

Technology and the WWW is a wonderful thing.  Without it, we wouldn’t be able to provide the services as a court reporter to the legal community. It allows us to provide realtime, conduct depositions over Zoom, and create backups in the Cloud.  Unfortunately, there are those individuals who abuse the technology for financial gains, the stealing of intellectual property, and black market sales.

Best advice of the day:  Keep your software updated, keep regular backups, install good antivirus/malware software, don’t share personal information, don’t search nefarious sites, and Don’t Click the Link!!

Published in the STARdotSTAR Summer edition.

Technology, Uncategorized, Video Conferencing, Zoom

TECH TIP 11 – Breakout Rooms in Zoom

Off the Record discussions can be handled with Breakout Rooms in Zoom.

When counsel and the witness need to confer during a deposition, the Host can create a breakout room(s).  Breakout rooms can be assigned giving individuals the privacy needed.  It is similar to parties leaving the room. In this case, you are “leaving” the main session.

To initiate a Breakout Room, the Host must click the bottom of the Zoom Screen and select Breakout Rooms.  Once the room is set up simply Join the breakout room you are assigned to.  Once in the breakout room, you are free to have a private discussion.

Breakout rooms work the same as if you were in the main room. You have access to Chat and Share Screen with participants within your secure breakout room.

When you are done with your conversation, click Leave Room, Leave Breakout Room to return to the main session.

The Host is also able to send a message via Chat to participants in the Breakout Room requesting them to return to the session.

Hyperlinked Exhibits, Litigation Support, Technology, Uncategorized, Video Conferencing, Zoom

TECH TIP 10 – Share Screen Navigation Options

Share Screen allows all participants to View a document at the same time. This feature is best used for viewing jpg files and for annotations. You can also share video and audio files in Share Screen.

If you are viewing a multi-page document, depending on your version of Adobe, you can jump to a desired page. Type in a # where you see 1 / 11 and hit enter. It will jump to that page.

If your document is OCR-ready, CTRL+F to search for a word or phrase to get to the desired location within the document.

Protocol for sharing files in Share Screen:

To use Share Screen, click the SHARE SCREEN button located in your meeting controls. You will see a White Board, and file(s) you would like to view. Click on the desired file.

If you would like to give others the option to share files, the Host must click on the Arrow beside Share Screen at the bottom of the screen to let others share files. Choose Multiple Participants.

Share screen allows all participants to View one document at the same time. Only the person sharing the document can move the document on the screen. 

For a participant to take control of Share Screen, click the View Options drop down menu at the top of your in-meeting window and select Request Remote Control. Then click Request to confirm.

Aside from viewing the file, this is how others can annotate the document being viewed to then be saved as an exhibit, if needed.

ALT+S to Stop the share.

NOTE: Doris O. Wong Associates is happy to extract pages in a multi-page document that can be shared as one shorter file and/or hyperlinked to be shared in Chat.