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.
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 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.