The Best Way To Record and Transcribe Legal Depositions for Beginners

Depositions are extremely valuable because they enable a party to a trial to know in advance what the other party's witnesses are going to testify to at the trial. This enables attorneys to see exactly where their strengths and weaknesses are. In turn, this helps them to prepare better and can even curtail proceedings significantly.

However, to be most effective depositions need to be recorded and transcribed in writing so that there’s a clear and accurate record, both in writing and on video or audio, of what a witness said during a deposition. 

In this post, we’ll look at why you need a recording of a deposition, what equipment and software you need, and some tips you should consider when recording a deposition.

Why You Need a Recording of the Deposition

Considering the vital role that depositions play in obtaining witness testimony before a trial starts, there are several reasons why you need a recording of a deposition. It, for instance:

  • Eliminates time-wasting. When you record a deposition, everyone involved keeps to the schedule and it reduces interruptions. This can, in turn, reduce the duration of the deposition.
  • Helps litigants prepare for trial. Depositions help attorneys prepare for trial because it allows them to review the evidence, corroborate evidence, consult with expert witnesses, and they can use it to develop their legal arguments.
  • Is valuable when it becomes necessary to impeach a witness. From time to time it happens that a witness changes their testimony during the trial. In this case, a recording or transcription is extremely valuable to show how the witness contradicted their previous evidence.
  • Saves time and costs. When there are a large number of witnesses testifying to the same facts, a recorded deposition can save litigants a lot of money because they can present the evidence of these witnesses without calling each witness separately. Depositions can also save money when it comes to expert witnesses. When they depose their evidence, they don't need to wait at court to be called and their evidence can be presented through the deposition.
  • Improves the written record of testimony. Depositions can improve and enhance the written record of proceedings and this can make presenting evidence easier. For instance, when evidence is presented on a specific fact or document, the jury can be referred to the specific part of the deposition where the document was dealt with.

Recording a Legal Deposition for the First Time

When recording depositions both video and audio recordings are allowed, so you have the choice between either depending on your specific requirements.

When recording audio depositions, you would typically do this in much the same way as you would a meeting. So, you should place your recording device in such a way that it captures clear sound from the witness. In this way, you'll be able to record the evidence accurately which is not only important for the trial but also makes transcription easier. 

When making a video recording of a deposition, things are a bit more complicated. For these depositions, you need to consider the backdrop behind the witness so that there are no distractions for anyone watching the video. You’ll also need to consider camera angles especially since a jury interprets the actions of a witness on video in a certain way.

For example, the wrong camera angle may make it seem like a witness is looking down while giving their evidence, which a jury can then, in turn, interpret as the witness being evasive.

What Equipment Do You Need To Record a Legal Deposition?

When making an audio recording of a deposition, it’s certainly possible to use a laptop or mobile device. Remember, though, you’ll want the sound to be as clear as possible. For this reason, it's always better to use a recording device that will capture high-quality sound.  

As a result, you should consider using a digital voice recorder. Here, you could, for instance, consider any of the available models from brands like Olympus, Philips, Sony, and EVISTR. You could also consider an external microphone that improves the sound even further.  

When you're making a video recording of a deposition, you typically need a video camera, a tripod, and possibly an external microphone. Similar to making an audio recording of the deposition, you would ideally need the highest quality audio and video. 

So, although you're certainly able to use your phone or tablet to record video, it's better to consider dedicated video cameras and microphones. When it comes to brands, any of the well-known brands like Canon and Panasonic will do.  

The Best Tools and Software for Recording and Transcribing a Legal Deposition

Recording the deposition is only the first step and for obtaining an accurate record of the deposition you need to transcribe it too. Like recording audio or video, to transcribe audio to text or convert video to text, you’ll also need the right tools. Firstly, you would need a laptop or computer where you’ll be able to download the video or audio file.

This is typically done by using proprietary software made available by the camera or digital voice recorder manufacturer. This software allows you to download audio and video files from the equipment quickly and easily. If your device did not come with included software, it’s usually as simple as connecting the device to your computer and downloading the file from the specific folder.

The next tool you’ll need is software to transcribe the deposition, irrespective of whether it was recorded as audio or video. And that brings us to our AI transcription software, Transcribe. It allows you to convert any recorded speech, whether it's contained in audio or video files, to text and it gives you the ability to export your transcripts in a variety of file formats.

How To Easily Transcribe a Legal Deposition Using Transcribe by Wreally

So, once you’ve exported the audio or video recording of the deposition, it’s time to convert it to text. Now, this could be a time-consuming process. Fortunately, Transcribe makes this process a lot easier. 

We offer two transcription options: automatic and self.

Automatic transcription

To save time, we always recommend using our automatic transcription service. With it, you can transcribe audio to text and convert video to text with just a few clicks. Keep in mind, though, automatic transcription works best if you have clear and well-recorded audio or video. 

For automatic transcription:

  1. Upload the audio or video file of the deposition. Here, you’ll have quite a few options to customize before uploading the file including inserting timecodes, subtitles formatting, and more.

  1. Once uploaded, you can track the progress of your transcription. 
  2. Once the transcription is ready, you can download the text file as a Word document or txt file. 

Manual transcription

For manual transcription mode:

1. Select Self Transcription mode.

2. Select the audio or video file of your deposition. Our self-transcription editor interface includes an integrated editor and media player and it supports several common audio and video file formats. 

3. You can also use the self-transcription feature to edit the transcript generated by the automatic transcription mode.

4. Slow down the audio and type as you listen. This gives you the ability to slow down the audio to a pace that’s suitable for you. 

5. You can also switch to dictation and repeat what you hear in your voice.

6. Also, you can use templates, auto loop, and foot pedal features that allow you to transcribe audio or video to text quicker.   

7. Once you’re done transcribing the deposition, you can export the transcription as a Word document to your computer. 

You can read a more detailed how-to guide about transcribing audio and video here.

Isn’t It Time You Made Recording and Transcribing Depositions Easy?

Depositions play a vital role in trials as they help litigants prepare, improve the written record that serves before the court, and can even reduce the duration of a trial. However, to be effective, you need a clear and accurate record of the deposition. And this is where recording and transcribing depositions are invaluable.

Our AI transcription software makes this process easier and allows you to convert audio to text and transcribe video to text quickly and easily. To find out more about Transcribe, visit our website for more details.

Still have questions? Contact us.

About this Guide

This is an attempt to build the definitive guide on various topics related to dictation, transcription & recording.

This guide is maintained by Transcribe, a professional and easy-to-use transcription software that helps you convert audio and video to text automatically.
Start Transcribing Now Guide Home