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Depo – Version 2

By Brett Burney

May/June 2008 Table of Contents


Summarizing deposition transcripts is a necessary task but it can be frustrating and time consuming. There are several software applications on the market that promise to make the job easy, but they usually offer more than what you need — a straightforward method for reading through a transcript and pulling out important passages.

That’s exactly the niche that Depo from TrialPrep aims to fill. When you import a transcript into Depo, it automatically pairs each question and answer together. You then can go through and click-select each pair that you wish to export to another document. Depo also does an excellent job of providing demo videos and a readable help file, and it offers unlimited technical support.

The brainchild of Laurence Steffan, a trial attorney who needed a simple way to extract specific witness trial questions from a deposition transcript, Depo automatically pairs each question and answer together when you import a transcript. You then can use Depo to summarize your deposition.

The installation process was quick and smooth but it should be noted that Depo works on top of the Microsoft .NET framework. This will be automatically installed if it isn’t already present on your computer system. You might want to check with your IT department in case it needs to approve the installation.

Importing a transcript is easily done through the File menu and multiple volume transcripts (i.e., those that span more than one day) easily can be appended to existing files.

Before the import, however, it’s a good practice to open the transcript in a text editor (usually the application called “Notepad” that comes pre-installed on every Windows operating system) if you don’t have the paper transcript to review. You should keep two things in mind for Depo — the page on which the first question starts (past all the introductory material) and how many lines appear on each page (usually 25). This information is necessary to make sure every transcript is imported correctly and that the transcript in Depo matches the page numbers on the printed, official transcript.

Transcripts are loaded into specific case “Types” that you can define. For example, if you have a wrongful termination suit, you can create a case name, such as Jones v. Smith, and import your transcript into that folder.

On the transcript screen, the questions are in bold while the answers are in plain font. Each question and answer pair has a number down the left side with a check box under each number. On the right, you will see the page and line number where the text is found. If you are interested in exporting your key question and answer pairs, you simply can click each check box to mark them in red. You can go a step further, however, and assign each question and answer pair to a “Group,” which many people will call “issue.”

You can create Groups for each type of case. So under the “Contract” case type, you can have Group names for Offer, Acceptance and Breach. To associate a Group with a question and answer pair, you select a Group name from a drop-down menu at the bottom of the screen. When you click a question’s checkbox, that question and answer pair automatically will be tagged with the appropriate Group name. This becomes very helpful when you export your selected questions to a Microsoft Word or Corel WordPerfect document because the questions are arranged by each Group to which they were assigned.

As you go through your transcript, you can add a question or edit an existing one. This might sound a little dangerous, but it becomes very helpful when you are preparing your list of questions to have in hand at trial. You can add follow-up questions to use during witness testimony that you might have forgotten during the deposition. Similarly, you can edit questions to take out extraneous verbiage.

A search box is available at the bottom left of the screen to help you jump directly to a specific section of the transcript. All the “hits” of a search appear in a box below the text of the transcript and you can jump to a particular page by clicking on the page and line numbers listed there.

Once you are done selecting and “Grouping” each question and answer pair that you need for your final document, you can click the export buttons for Word or WordPerfect. In the Page Setup dialog box, you can set page margins, different fonts for questions and answers, and even adjust the spacing between question and answer pairs. This allows you to make sure there is enough room for a three-hole punch for a trial binder or simply enough space to make appropriate notes throughout the trial. You also can order the sequence in which you want the groups to print.

Depo by TrialPrep pales in features when compared to Summation, TextMap or LiveNote, but it’s meant to give you a streamlined method for reviewing and summarizing deposition transcripts. Someone has to read through all the text and Depo gives you a point-and-click interface to select the question and answer pairs that are going to be the most relevant for future proceedings.    



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