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Today’s technology certainly is cutting edge and it’s advancing at a very quick pace. We are continually introduced to new techno-gadgets and electronic ways of communication which, only naturally, is overshadowing the more simple “technology” from yesteryear that still exists and is still quite useful.
Remember rotary phones that were attached to the wall? They once were sufficient. How about the time when the only button on the TV was the On/Off button? So simple. And the days when handwritten letters were commonplace? Oh, how uniquely special that was.
Today’s world of technology promises to make our lives more organized and efficient, but does it really? In some cases, the older (what now seems almost archaic) technology choice can be the wiser choice.
Take the common conference call for example.
Conference calls, or “audio conferencing” or “phone conferencing” by today’s standard, used to be the only alternative option to face-to-face meetings. Now, with video taking over, we often forget and don’t continue to take advantage of this medium that, if we look closely enough, can fill the same need just fine.
Brian Sykes, a Worker’s Compensation defense attorney in Norfolk, Virginia, has been conducting most of his depositions via audio conferencing for over ten years. He relies heavily on it for out-of-town depositions both with clients, and for obtaining expert testimony which he otherwise couldn’t acquire.
“In my Workers’ Compensation defense practice, I handle litigation all over Virginia. Audio conferencing services allow me to provide efficient, cost-efficient, and accurate representation to my clients state-wide,” he said.
Our memories of “conference calls past” might include the many times we had to ask the now popular question, “Can you hear me now?” over and over while we were taking a deposition over the phone. Or we can remember how irritating it was to hear the constant, unidentified clicking noise on the line or being so annoyed by having to place the speaker phone six inches from our face only to have to lean toward it even more just to be heard.
Well, today those memories can be just that – memories. Over the last two decades, the evolution of audio conferencing has grown to the point that it’s still a simple medium but with a much higher quality experience and result.
The obvious large benefit of using audio conferencing is the immense savings on travel – both financial savings and preventing loss of productivity. The cost for four people to travel 1,000 miles to a one day out-of-town deposition can easily add up to $5,000 including hotel and rental car. That same deposition would cost a mere $75 if audio conferencing were used instead.
Yes, sometimes there are reasons that face-to-face (either live or via videoconferencing) is needed, but taking a closer look at what is really needed on a case-by-case basis can help save a lot of money in the long run.
It’s easy to set up audio conferencing when you schedule your depositions.
Another benefit is the extreme ease of setting up a conference call – no matter how many people are involved. Many firms don’t realize that they don’t have to set up the conference call separate from scheduling their depositions. Often times secretaries will spend unneeded time calling AT&T or some other carrier to set up calls when, at no extra charge, their depo-setting agency can do it all for them.
Brian, who has been using Atkinson-Baker for over ten years, can attest to the ease of setting up the calls with confidence in the dependability of it all.
“One of the greatest benefits of audio conferencing is the ease of setting it up to take place anywhere, anytime. My paralegal simply makes one call and we schedule the depositions wherever needed. I’ve taken depositions all over the country using audio conferencing services and we have rarely encountered any problems.”
Brian also deposes expert witnesses and uses translators who otherwise couldn’t spend the time traveling. This is where his use of audio conferencing really becomes an ally for everyone involved.
“In order to defend the claims that I’m assigned, I need to talk to doctors on most of the cases. The doctors are located in and out of Virginia. In the workers’ compensation practice, we are allowed to submit medical reports and doctors’ deposition transcripts in lieu of live expert testimony. As a result, I use audio conferencing frequently to access doctors for depositions that I cannot take in person due to time constraints or to promote cost-effectiveness.
Even in cases requiring translators for foreign-speaking deponents, the audio conferencing results have been great,” Brian said.
Yes, webcams, video conferencing and other higher-end mediums are needed in certain cases that require more than having audio on the record, but automatically choosing a newer, high-end technology medium for depositions can create unnecessary complexities with a high price tag.
Bill Gates and Steve Jobs don’t necessarily want us to rely on old-school technology, but in order for us to be wise in business, we must sometimes visit it as a viable option.
Brian Sykes is a partner with Vandeventer Black in Norfolk, Virginia, and concentrates his law practice in Workers’ Compensation defense and labor and employment. He works with insurance carriers and self-insured businesses defending Workers’ Compensation claims filed pursuant to the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Act and the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act. Brian also works with risk managers, human resource professionals and executives on preventive strategies.