Out-of-Town Depositions Made Easy

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01Oct2009

Out-of-Town Depositions Made Easy

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By Barbara Lynch, Staff Writer

Reporters Everywhere A Reporter for Depositions in Every Nook and Cranny

Location. Location. Location.  We’re used to hearing this when people talk about what makes a restaurant successful. When it comes to depositions, it’s just as imperative.

One of the questions clients frequently ask is whether or not we can get them a reporter in a particular town – even if it’s way off the beaten path.  And our answer is always a confident “Yes!”

So when an attorney needed a reporter in Gardiner, Montana, we arranged it, no problem. In case you’ve never been there, Gardiner and its 851 residents are tucked away in Montana’s Gallatin Wilderness about 60 miles upstream of Livingston’s 6,851 residents along the original entrance of Yellowstone National Park.

Gardiner and Livingston, despite their remoteness and tiny size, are two of the 7,394 cities throughout the US and over 15 other countries where we have reported more than 413,163 depositions over the last two decades.

Gardiner

Even if there are depositions in London, CA (pop. 1,848), London, Ontario (pop. 352,395), or London, England (pop. 7,512,400), all on the same day, we can easily get reporters there within a few hours. Sheila Atkinson-Baker pointed this out in an article she wrote over ten years ago when Atkinson-Baker was one of the first to offer last-minute reporters in remote locations.

Let Someone Else Do All the Work

Hundreds of our clients use us solely for out-of-town depositions and have for years. Two of these clients, Vera Thompson, a paralegal with Murphy & Beane, Inc., in Culver City, California, and Kelley Kimm, a legal secretary with Greenberg Traurig, LLP, in Las Vegas, schedule out-of-town depositions with us on a regular basis and have made some geographically remote requests.

When asked how using a nationwide agency to set up her firm’s depositions away from their firm’s home office helps both them and their attorneys, this is what Vera had to say:

“Using an agency is extremely helpful and necessary under several circumstances. First off, the firm may be too small and without space to conduct a deposition so we are forced to find a new site.

“There are also many times when the location is in an out-of-the-way area, and your agency has staff to find the right location that is convenient for everyone involved. Many times, an attorney flies in and finds that the deposition location is so far outside of the city that he or she can’t make it back in time to catch a flight and perhaps have to stay overnight – costing money and productive time away from the office. Your people always quickly find and book a convenient deposition location which geographically allows enough time for the attorney to successfully make it back to catch a return flight.”

When asked the same question, Ms. Kelley’s response had more to do with how we can book everything for her at one location, relieving pressure on her and freeing her up to do other things.

Time is Money“It saves me a ton of time. Not only do I not have to find a location, I don’t have to find a court reporter, videographer, or anything else my attorney needs for the deposition. Because it’s one-stop shopping, I am freed up to concentrate on other work,” she said.

Being Third Party “Gun Shy”

“We’re creatures of habit.”

“We tend to stick to the familiar.”

“A routine change can cause some people anxiety.”

For some, putting trust in a third party isn’t worth it because they don’t feel in control unless they handle it all themselves.

These are some of the underlying causes why more legal professionals don’t use an agency but instead take up their valuable time trying to find and book out-of-town locations and court reporters on their own.

But, as some of our clients can attest, that uneasiness often disappears quickly after working with an agency one time and seeing how it saves time and effort.

Vera, the legal professional in Culver City, shares what she would say to someone who has always set up out-of-town depositions themselves and feels uneasy about letting someone else do it:

“I would encourage anyone who has never used one court reporting agency for setting up all the elements of an out-of-town deposition to give it a try. If I had to try and find locations, reporters, and interpreters myself, I know my firm’s depositions would not have gone smoothly. If you are not familiar with out-of-town locations, so much can go awry and be very costly.

“Also, the time saved trying to locate a convenient place for all parties can take up so much valuable time. By establishing a relationship with a good agency that is dependable and can assist with interpreters, locations, telephone depositions, and follow up, it will make your job so much easier.”

Ms. Kimm echoed that perspective, as well as expressing her own confidence in letting a third party handle it:

“If you are at all busy, you will so appreciate having the help from professionals who do this all the time. They know what they are doing. They have affiliates all over,” she said.

Tips for Taking Out-of-Town Depositions

Last year, we ran an article in our newsletter written by Amy Wilkins, an associate at Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro’s Phoenix office, which gave tips for taking out-of-town depositions.

“You’ve found the star witness. This is the witness that you know holds the key to your case. With this witness’s testimony, you are sure to make the other side crumble in a summary judgment motion,” she wrote. “They might even throw in the towel. They will certainly, if not concede defeat, weep. There’s only one problem – the witness doesn’t live in your state.”

“Now, instead of preparing questions for the witness, you are consumed with other questions: How do you get the witness to appear? How do you serve them with a subpoena? Do you have to get letters rogatory? Just what are letters rogatory, anyway? The answers to these questions are easy. Just read the tips and you’ll have more time for the real questions – the ones for your witness that will lead to victory.”

The complete article with tips for taking out-of-town depositions can be found here and has been used as a useful guideline for many of our clients.

Planning’s Effect on the End Result

Looking closely at the litigation process and all that it entails, it’s apparent that timeliness and efficiency are two main ingredients needed to make the extensive trial preparation process go smoothly.

Planning

Besides sharing her perspective on using an agency, Ms. Kimm also gave her thoughts on the importance of planning in the litigation process. She stressed how important planning is for trial and how it ensures everything stays on track.

She equated it with how she plans efficiently at home so she can make sure things run as smoothly as possible.

“I don’t know if it’s any different than being efficient at home. Mainly you need professionals (court reporters, videographers) that you can count on to produce quality work. You have to have it all together for trial – no missing pieces.” Ms. Kimm said.

Planning for depositions, both locally and out-of-town, is extremely important because, if not handled properly, it can cause a disruption of flow and, as a result, possibly delay progress or cause sloppiness in the preparation for trial.

“My personal opinion and experience with trial preparation is that all parties involved want to ensure that everything is in place. Planning is very important. Once a relationship is established with an agency, I can rest assured knowing everything is being handled in one place. By using an outside agency when scheduling out-of-town depositions, it is one-stop shopping. Everything is taken care of via phone or online.”

So Much More Than Location, Location, Location

Yes, location is one of the first pieces to be decided on by the firm when planning a deposition, but beyond that is ensuring the baton is handed over to professionals who can run with it.  Seasoned professionals will make sure the planning of every detail enhances the case’s progress rather than derail it and/or create miscommunication between parties involved.

Relying on a dependable agency can become second nature and it really should – for the sake of saving money, time, and providing a peace of mind. For firms, most out-of-town depositions involve many unknowns and blanks to be filled, which can feel like starting from ground zero each time.

However, ground zero can easily be avoided. It only takes one call to a well oiled, experienced agency that’s been handling out-of-town depositions for over twenty years. A veteran agency knows how to seamlessly handle it all from beginning to end – even when there is a deposition in a little known town at the entrance to Yellowstone National Park in Montana.

© Copyright 2009. All rights reserved. Atkinson-Baker, Inc.

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