Shook Partners Matt Keenan and Jon Strongman have authored an article for the National Law Journal on how courts, attorneys, clients and witnesses have adapted to COVID-19 shelter-in-place orders and shutdowns by moving depositions to video conferencing software such as Zoom.
“This mode of discovery is in its infancy,” Keenan and Strongman note. “The current platforms feel more like a useful adaptation of available technology to get the job done than a refined tool built and programmed for this specific purpose. There’s no question there will be acquired shortcuts and targeted technological improvements that will facilitate the process. That said, the basic concept seems unlikely to change—separate parties in separate locations speaking on a common subject with the benefit of technology.”
Strongman and Keenan offer some advice from court reporters and observations on best practices, including practical advice on backup technology to have ready in the event of technical difficulties. “COVID-19 has forced tech-phobic courts to embrace new practices as they have attempted to move forward with litigation despite shelter-in-place and other movement-limiting orders,” they conclude. “As efforts to reduce the spread of the virus begin to wane and life returns to normal, some of COVID-19’s effects are surely here to stay.”