Some Attorneys’ Thoughts about Remote Depositions

Rachel SzymanskiBlog

Some attorneys are sharing their thoughts about virtual depositions. Here are a couple we’ve gleaned – from the internet and one of our clients: 

John Siegal of BakerHostetler in “What Are We Learning In Month 2? Litigating in a Global Pandemic: An Update” in the New York Law Journal: Two months of litigating from home is proving that virtual depositions work. They are feasible, fully functional and required now. We all need to embrace this reality and stop making excuses for why we’re not proceeding with our cases.” 

From Jim Ball of The Ball Law Group in response to our query about videotaped Zoom depositions: “Thanks for the kind words, and all of your great assistance!  I much prefer this method!!”   

Siegal’s conclusion: “We have the tools, the time and the talent to adjust our practices to this new reality—and there is a lot of good to be gained by it, not just in the near-term crisis but going forward to bring the practice of law fully and functionally into the new era that is only just beginning with this crisis.” 

Learning Zoom: Using Zoom on Your Computer

Brett SchatzleBlog

Raise your hand if you’re ready to get back to an in-person work environment… or, honestly, an in-person anything.  I’m sure we all are.  The last couple of months have proven to be quite the challenge for everyone, to say the least.  Not only have you had to learn new ways of working remotely to keep your business going, but on top of that you’ve had to learn how to teach your kids math.  What kind of crazy situation is this?

But for the foreseeable future, working remotely will be the norm, and no one is sure how long that is going to last.  So why not continue to learn something new?  If you’ve been a bit hesitant about using Zoom or technology really isn’t your forte, let us at UBA help you through it.  I promise it’s not as scary as it seems.

Below is just one of many Zoom tutorials we will be releasing over the coming weeks.  These tutorials will be covering the overall process of Zoom and various other Zoom tips and tricks to help you with your depositions or meetings.  It is our commitment at UBA to help you navigate through this new normal.  And I’ll let you in on a secret:  we’re still learning too.  There is always something to learn when it comes to technology.

Now sit back and let us show you how to use Zoom on your computer.

UBA Online Video Repository

Brett SchatzleBlog

If you need a video deposition sent to you, our online video repository is an easy and efficient way to deliver your video.  It’s a great alternative to delivering other media formats, such as a DVD.

If you’ve been a bit hesitant to receive your videos in digital format, take a look at this short tutorial.  It explains the basics of our online video repository from how the video is delivered to you, to how to view it, to how it can be downloaded to your computer.

Keeping Zoom Meetings Safe

Rachel SzymanskiBlog

Urlaub Bowen & Associates is cognizant of the news reports about security issues with Zoom. After monitoring Zoom’s response and efforts to enhance security, we feel comfortable continuing to host remote depositions with this video conference platform. We are taking the following steps to ensure we avoid common mistakes and keep our meetings safe:
  • We are providing a unique meeting number and URL link for every meeting.
  • We are password protecting our meetings.
  • We monitor the meeting participants as they enter and, if desired, we can lock the meeting after all expected participants have arrived.
  • File upload on the chat function has been disabled.
  • We have disabled the recording of meetings.
If you would like to learn more about how Zoom is working to keep meetings secure, please see this letter and data sheet from Zoom.
For the perspective of an attorney and a legal technology expert, see the article “Zoom is Safe for Lawyers (if you use it right).” 
We understand how important security is to the attorneys we work with, and we are committed to our role as a neutral third party and protector of the record when we host and monitor proceedings.

Video Evidence Depositions

Rachel SzymanskiBlog

We have had some clients ask if a video evidence deposition to be used for playback in court is possible with Zoom.  The answer is yes.   Just like we did before remote depositions became our “new normal,” we use a Certified Legal Video Specialist (CLVS) to create professional video recordings.   

Below is a brief clip of what a video evidence deposition looks like in a Zoom video conference as recorded by our in-house CLVS, Brett Schatzle. 

As displayed in the video, there is an option for the questioning attorney to share an exhibit that is open on their screen so all participants can view it through the Share Screen option in Zoom.  

However, we recommend that our clients send us their exhibits in advance, and we email them to all parties. This is because we’ve seen some drawbacks to sharing exhibits only through Share Screen option. 

  1. The witness has to direct you to scroll through the exhibit to get to a certain page which can be time consuming. 
  2. If you are not careful, you may forget to be specific when discussing the exhibits and not end up with the detailed written record you want.  

Here is an example of an attorney with poor record-making habits.

Q. Do you see this document?

A. Yes.

Q. Did you mark this document in any way?

A. Yes, right there.

This exchange does not clearly indicate which document the attorney is referring to nor the exact place within that document that the witness is referencing. None of these specific details will be in the written transcript.  

Here is a better version of that exchange. 

Q. Do you see this document that has been marked as Exhibit 2?

A. Yes.

Q. Did you mark this document in any way?

A. Yes, right there.

Q. Are you pointing to the initials on the left margin of the second page?

To avoid issues like these, we recommend only using the Share Screen option to share an exhibit you decided to include at the last minute or to show an exhibit you do not want the other side to have in advance. If you need to use this option, we have step-by-step instructions to help you learn how. 

How to Get a Professional Video Record

Rachel SzymanskiBlog

As litigators and court reporters adjust to working remotely during the COVID-19 shutdown, we are realizing the value of being able to see each other during a deposition. Luckily, platforms like Zoom make this possible even when all parties are in separate locations. But what if you’d like a video recording of the deposition for later use? 

Fortunately, videographers are still able to capture proceedings during this time. If you’re considering using video clips at trial later or simply want the best possible quality recording for your own reference, you’ll want to hire a certified legal video specialist. 

The reason to hire a videographer who is a certified legal video specialist for a video conference are some of the same reasons to hire them for an in-person deposition. 

  1. Editing the video: Perhaps the biggest benefit to having a videographer is being able to count on them to transform your raw video into a professional video recording with the best possible picture and sound quality. They can also send the recording to you in a variety of file types. 
  2. Syncing with the transcript: Videographers have software that allows them to easily sync the transcript with the video recording. You can follow the video as the text scrolls along with the speaker and easily pick out key portions of testimony that you would like to highlight later.
  3. Providing a backup: When a videographer records a deposition, they simultaneously record to a memory card in the camera, a separate memory card in an external video recorder, and an external audio recorder, so you can be sure your video will be captured.

Here is a recent clip from a mock deposition in a Zoom meeting recorded by our videographer, Brett Schatzle.


Working Remotely with Young Children

Rachel SzymanskiBlog

These are challenging times for people in every profession, but legal professionals face unique issues. Unlike others who are working remotely and may be able to easily handle an interruption during a conference call, when a court reporter or attorney is taking a deposition from their home, it is necessary for the room they are in to be as close to silent as possible. This means those legal professionals who are caregivers for young children and no longer have their usual child care options during work hours face a dilemma.  

What’s a mom or dad to do when they need quiet, but want their kids to be learning at the same time? Luckily, there are some great children’s book authors, homeschool providers, and museums with online education options and activity ideas. 

For those with younger kids at home, here are just a couple of the numerous free resources that are out there:  

Try out these resources and feel free to let us know if your little ones enjoy them. We hope this makes working remotely a little easier. 

Need a Break? Our Picks for TV Shows to Watch During Shelter-in-Place

Rachel SzymanskiBlog

Our staff is hard at work during the day, but in the evenings, we have all been indulging in our favorite TV shows. Here are some of our picks for interesting shows and documentaries to watch during shelter-in-place.

Donna Urlaub, Co-Founder

  • The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, Amazon Prime: A comedy set in 1950s Manhattan following an aspiring comedian from the Upper West Side who begins a career in comedy after her husband leaves her.
  • Schitt’s Creek, Netflix: A sitcom about a formerly wealthy family who must regroup and move to Schitt’s Creek, a town they once purchased as a joke.
  • Succession, HBO: A drama about the shift of power in a family who owns a media conglomerate.
  • American Factory, Netflix: An Oscar winning documentary which tells the story of a Chinese billionaire who purchases an abandoned General Motors factory and hires American workers for his company Fuyao, a glass manufacturer.  

Dayna Urlaub Trotta, Scheduling Manager

  • 30 Rock, Amazon Prime: A semi-autobiographical comedy by Tina Fey following the life of Liz Lemon, the head writer of a late-night comedy sketch show.  
  • Modern Family, Hulu: A sweet, smart comedy following the fun, crazy antics of patriarch Jay, his two adult children, Claire and Mitchell, their spouses, and kids.  

Bill Huron, Finance Manager

  • The Resident, Fox/Hulu: A medical drama set in Chastain Memorial Hospital where Dr. Conrad Hawkins tries to teach his residents how the medical system really works.  
  • New Amsterdam, ABC/Hulu: Another medical drama set at the oldest public hospital in the United States where Dr. Max Goodwin tries to tear down bureaucracy to allow the hospital to provide exceptional care. 

Brett Schatzle, Videographer

  • Breaking Bad, Netflix: A drama following the lives of a high school chemistry teacher turned meth kingpin and his former student who becomes his assistant. 
  • Better Call Saul, Netflix/AMC: A spinoff of Breaking Bad, this is the backstory of Saul Goodman aka Jimmy McGill, a charming con artist making his way as a lawyer in Albuquerque. 
  • Curb Your Enthusiasm, HBO or HBOGo: A comedy following the misadventures of Seinfeld creator Larry David.  
  • The SopranosHBOGo or Amazon: A crime drama following Tony Soprano, a husband, father, and mob boss who is in therapy.  
  • Pandemic, Netflix: For those who want to lean in and learn more about pandemics and how we might prevent them in the future, this docuseries delivers.  

Kathy Hillgard, Court Reporter

  • Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness, Netflix: This 7-part docuseries examines the life of the eccentric Joe Exotic who ran a big cat park in Oklahoma and his feud with Carole Baskin, the founder of the nonprofit Big Cat Rescue. 

Katie Elliott, Court Reporter

  • The Valhalla Murders, Netflix: An Icelandic murder mystery with a detective returning home to help local police find a serial killer. 
  • Gilmore Girls, Netflix: The touching, comedic story of a single mother from a wealthy household raising her teenage daughter in her picturesque hometown in Connecticut. 
  • Brooklyn 99, Hulu; A police procedural comedy series following the exploits of Detective Jake Peralta and his colleagues in NYPD’s 99th precinct. 

Leanna Michas, Court Reporter

  • The Crown, Netflix: A historical drama about the reign of Queen Elizabeth II.  
  • The Morning Show, Apple TV: A drama set in the cutthroat world of early morning television.  

Rachel Szymanski Welling, Administrative Assistant

  • Westworld, HBO or HBOGo: A sci-fi drama set in a futuristic theme park where androids are providing entertainment for the visitors until a few of these androids start to become conscious of their situation.  
  • The Masked Singer, Fox: A reality singing show where the singers are celebrities dressed in elaborate costumes and the judges guess who is behind the masks.

Robyn Falasz, Administrative Assistant

  • Prodigal Son, Fox/Hulu: A drama about a criminal psychologist who helps the NYPD solve crimes while maintaining a relationship with his serial killer father.  


UBA Online Transcript Repository

Cindy SobolewskiBlog

The Who, What, Where, When, How and Why of Our Online Repository

What is an online repository? Why should you use it? How and where do you use it? Who has access to it? When do you have access to your files?  These questions and others will be answered for you from our perspective as keepers of the record.

As creatures of habit, we don’t really like when something is changed, especially when it’s something we’ve been comfortable doing for years that works just fine. That saying “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” comes to mind. Personally, I’m old school and technology scares me, mostly because it’s not static and as soon as I give in and purchase a device, a new one is released that’s bigger, better, and faster… and more expensive.

But technology isn’t always scary or intimidating. Take for instance, receiving a deposition transcript electronically. Email attachment, right? That’s the way it’s been done for years and it works just fine. But with technological advances, now there’s something called an online repository.

What is it? It’s a central location where electronic files are stored in a cloud, if you will, and those files are then accessible to be viewed, edited and downloaded. When can you access your files? Your files are available to you at any time – 24 hours a day, 7 days a week – through our website from wherever you happen to be as long as you have an internet connection.

Hypothetically, let’s say you’re in hurry to leave your office on Friday afternoon because you’re going away for the weekend, but you’re also going to be prepping for that expert deposition you’re taking first thing Monday morning. In your haste, you forget to grab the Depositions folder which contains the hard copy transcripts and summaries of prior deps in the case. As you’re making your commute home, you realize it’s sitting on your desk and you don’t have time to go back to your office, but then you think, “Oh, that’s okay. I remember they were emailed to me. I can just download them. I’ll be fine.”

Continuing with the hypothetical, you’ve reached your weekend destination and have found some time to get a little work done. Oh, darn it, you have to find those emails with the PDFs. That could take a bit of time because you’ll have to first search the case name, then download each file attachment to your computer.

Why should you use it? With the repository, all those deposition transcripts would already be sitting in the cloud waiting for you in one location. And there’s no software you need to download or licenses to deal with unless you use the E-Transcript, then you’d download the RealLegal E-Transcript viewer. More importantly, the files are encrypted during the uploading process.

We all know there is personal and delicate information contained in deposition transcripts, so the encryption protects that information; whereas if a transcript is sent as an email attachment, it is not encrypted and then becomes susceptible to exposure in the event your email account is hacked. Our use of the cloud with its encryption capability is secure and therefore also HIPAA compliant.

How and where do you use it? With the repository, you log in to your account through the UBA website, and all of the cases are listed, then all of the depositions are in subfolders. They’ve all been uploaded as condensed and full .pdf, .ptx, .lef, .ptf, .mdb, .sbf, .txt, and .xmef files. And the exhibits are hyperlinked in the .pdf files. It’s just a matter of clicks to open a transcript, and then you’re able to copy and paste text directly into your computerized notes. Oh, and it’s no problem that you don’t have your desktop computer with you or even your laptop. You can access your account via iPads, iPhones and Androids as well.

Who has access to it? We can send the email containing the link to all of the attorneys at your office who are working on the same case, as well as your support staff. If someone doesn’t already have an account with YesLaw, a password will be provided in a separate email when the transcript link is sent to them. That password that is issued by YesLaw can then be changed once they log in for the first time.

So what are the benefits of using the online repository?

• Electronic files = no paper = Ecofriendly
Easy login and your account is password protected
24/7 online access to your files
Various file formats to choose from
• Encryption = secure = HIPAA compliant
Hyperlinked exhibits
Accessible via computer, iPad, Android, iPhone
• No special software to download to view most files
• Transcripts organized by case
No dealing with secondary file transfer accounts (30 days to download) because the files are too large to be sent via regular email

What are the cons of using the online repository?

• Personally, the only con that I can think of is having to remember your password.

While writing this, I’ve come to accept that change isn’t always bad if I keep an open mind. And when it comes to technology, changes are usually to make life easier. And as the keepers of the record, we hope, with the help of technology, that we can make your life a little easier.