21 Litigation and Discovery

A new lawyer interested in legal technology could be excused for thinking that litigation-oriented technology is the 800-pound gorilla in the law practice technology world. Topics like e-discovery and trial presentation apps are frequent topics of technology publications. They’re glitzy and whether or not they may even be used can become part of the litigation.

While technology is not always the answer, litigators will want to be aware of the many choices they have. Additionally, cloud-based options may enable solos and smaller law firms to use tools that formerly required a large law firm’s IT infrastructure and staff. If there is any playing field leveling in the legal profession’s technology, it is in litigation.

Just as the rest of this text followed the types of activities you would do when taking on a new client, it makes some sense to walk through the litigation process in the same way that it would unfold following filing of the complaint.

Discovery: Depositions and Interrogatories

There is a documentary aspect to discovery that you will still use typical business of law tools – word processor, document management or organization, forms or templates – to accomplish. Interrogatories in particular can be a standard document in any litigator’s practice.

While preparation for depositions (or examinations for discovery) may be similarly document-centric, there are technology options for the actual process. Not surprisingly, it is possible to have an online deposition. Like many litigation technologies, this isn’t one that you need to organize or understand yourself. Court reporters who would be engaged to transcribe the deposition frequently offer online or other digital, streaming options for a deposition.

Some obvious benefits of an online deposition can be reducing the costs of getting all participants together. If you have an out-of-state witness, having them participate remotely can be a cost-savings to the case. Similarly, if you have an expert or client who you want to involve but who can’t attend, a live stream of the video or transcribed text can be sent live to the remote locations. Remote participants can send messages to the lawyer conducting the deposition to mimic the synchronous interactions they would have had if they’d been in the room.

As you might imagine, if you have a digital stream of transcription for watching, you can dump that transcription into a document management system for review and summarization. You might use the default Windows or other desktop search and your local computer. But there are dedicated trial management tools that are ideal for depositions.

Litigation support software is a somewhat generic term for all of the types of tools you might use to manage the information generated from discovery. Programs like AccessData’s Summation or Thomson Reuter’s LiveNote are frequently used to manage deposition transcripts and other litigation documents. The ability to quickly locate a reference – whether in advance of trial or during it, perhaps to impeach a witness – can be a critical function for a litigator.

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