I did my first deposition yesterday! It was also the first time that both counsels appeared via video conference and so only the witness was in the room with me. Imagine if the witness was there of a heinous crime, that would have been a potentially petrifying session for me! Luckily, the witness wasn’t and the session went so smoothly. Usually, I’m always apprehensive of video conferencing because the audio quality is incredibly poor. It seemed like because the other side was also at a facility with video conferencing capabilities and not using the usual Skype, the line was crystal clear. There were no feedback or echoes AT ALL. It was exactly what I needed for a full five-hour day of constant testimony.
(The prior video conferencing jobs I’ve had were never more than two hours, which was a Godsend because it reduced the number of cringes I had whenever the poor audio quality spots arose. I still remember how the feedback and echoes were so bad at one job that we resorted to using the phone line to hear the witness’s voice but still have them seen on the screen.)
Like I said to the front desk person yesterday, if all video jobs were as clear and high quality as this one I had yesterday, I wouldn’t mind video conferencing jobs more. Another thing I like about video conferencing is that because the parties know (or should know) that they had appearing remotely (or maybe it was just these counsels yesterday who knew to do that), they tended to speak more slowly and one at a time (not like how testimony deteriorates into everyday conversations more and more often these days — which is NOT reportable!) for the sake of a clean record. They really, really emphasized the importance of a clean report because the counsel kept saying “strike that” to remove false starts or disorganized questions. The counsel really understood what it took to make a clean readable record.
I’m so glad that my helpful colleagues gave me tips about the dep. Indeed, the questioning attorney did request readbacks of me so I was at least a little prepared for those. The American attorneys sure know what court reporters do, so it made the job more exciting than usual, knowing that they could utilize our skills on the spot compared to some local attorneys who don’t tend to do so as much, that I had to be on my toes about getting every single word and stay on top of it.
(I also liked that because the counsel cautioned the witness at the beginning of the job about how he was being transcribed by me that the witness was also cautious of the fact that I was typing everything down. As the counsel member was saying these things, the witness actually mouthed to me, “Are you typing?” and I nodded. At a break, the witness said to me that he couldn’t even hear me typing and I said it was because the keys were silent but that I could show him the keys afterwards. Indeed, during the lunch break, when the witness was near my side of the table, I briefly gestured towards my stenograph. It was then that he saw what it looked like and understood that it wasn’t “just a typewriter.” I love it when witnesses — or anyone in general — become educated about how we do. It’s the days when I wished the tables were transparent so that someone — anyone — could see that our fingers are flying and constantly moving when someone is talking.)
There was no videographer (I’ll save that for another first-time-first post). I was kind of glad about that because I would have been extra nervous had there been one. Interestingly, the case across from my room had a videographer and I saw all the extra equipment and setup that went on in that room. Are depositions becoming more popular in Toronto? Maybe it’s just coincidence.
I liked how we took so many frequent breaks. I feel like I haven’t been on a case with so many breaks since the days of LSUC. The attorney was really conscientious to break at every hour or less. It was a wonderful breath of fresh air to not have to sit there up to the 90-minute mark and hope and wonder in my head when the next break would be.
That being said, it did make the case more exciting than usual to be on because, like I said, you never know when the readback will come. The process was so much more formal yet comfortable because it was so proper. It was really nice to say the least.
We also went on an hour’s break for lunch, which is so rare these days during local examinations — especially when there is lunch provided onsite because the lawyers usually know that and thus will only take a 20 or 30-minute lunch knowing that for them, it saves them the type of actually getting and buying lunch elsewhere. Thirty minutes are just enough time (or sometimes not) for me to gobble down lunch while standing and check documents for spellings and quoted passages. This time, I actually got to get lunch and sit down and eat for a good 20 minutes before I went back to the room to check those documents. It was wonderful.
Yay for first time steno adventures! 🙂