One area of legal practice that may forever be changed by the coronavirus crisis is depositions, as attorneys who long resisted conducting depositions remotely have been forced to adapt. As more depositions go virtual, more technologies emerge to facilitate remote testimony.
The latest company to enter this space is Prevail Legal, which on Aug. 25 formally announced the launch of its cloud-based platform. But while depositions are its most obvious use, the company positions its technology as something broader — as the first cloud-based “testimony management platform.”
In addition, it offers real-time transcriptions, synchronized to the video, using artificial intelligence and machine learning, that it says cost 40% less than traditional court reporting services. While the “rough” transcript is real-time, the company says it can deliver a certified transcript in fewer than four days, for one-fifth the cost.
Just last week, I wrote here about another deposition-focused startup, Steno, which is a court reporting agency that also offers its own video conferencing technology for conducting remote depositions. In May, I wrote about vTestify, a cloud-based platform specifically designed for conducting depositions remotely.
As it happens, Prevail Legal’s cofounder and CEO, Rob Feigenbaum, worked at vTestify as vice president of sales and strategy before leaving to found Prevail in April 2019. A lawyer, Feigenbaum is a veteran of the e-discovery industry who formerly held executive positions at CS Disco, Consilio and Nuix.
Focus On The Data
In an interview yesterday, Feigenbaum told me that he left vTestify to start his own company because he came to believe that the opportunity for transcription technology in legal was much greater than just remote depositions.
“The focus of these other companies has always been on the transcript as the end product,” he said. “Our focus is that the data is the end product — by digitizing the transcription, you get value out of the data. You can tag it, bookmark it, and create video clips, even while the deposition is still occuring.”
Feigenbaum teamed with Random Bares as cofounder and CTO, who was most recently cofounder and CTO at the app-based micro-lender Branch International, and formerly founder of mobile app and game developer Conjectur/Signal Zero.
They secured investment financing of an undisclosed amount from Knox Capital, an investor whose portfolio already included several legal technology companies, including HaystackID, Authenticity.ai, Intelliteach and Bodhala.
After a year of development, Prevail launched its platform on Aug. 25. The platform’s features include:
- Real-time transcripts that the company says are “extraordinarily accurate” and easy to navigate.
- High-quality HD video that the company says offers crisp resolution for a more powerful presentation of evidence and better witness control.
- Work product control that allows users to bookmark and tag text as they go and easily create synchronized video clips without any multimedia skills.
- Centralized exhibit management that eliminates paper and allows for better organization of exhibits.
Feigenbaum told me that Prevail is able to produce highly accurate transcriptions by employing multiple AI engines to optimize results for each distinct speaker, regardless of differences in their voices or accents.
Transcripts are 90% or more accurate using solely the AI, and the company also offers a service by which a transcriptionist follows about five minutes behind the live testimony and edits the transcript to produce accuracy of 95% or more.
Any number of people can view a deposition as it is occurring and add tags and bookmarks in real time. That means that co-counsel and clients can collaborate as the deposition is taking place, from wherever they are located. Tags and bookmarks can be shared among members of a team.
Exhibits are managed within the platform, so there is no need to email exhibits or use screen sharing to display them.
“Our approach is that it should all be integrated into a single platform and should all be available instantly,” Feigenbaum said.
A Platform, Not An Agency
Feigenbaum emphasizes that Prevail is not a court reporting agency, but a technology platform. He sees the uses for the platform as extending well beyond depositions into any situation in which an accurate transcription is critical, such as arbitration hearings, HR exit interviews and internal corporate investigations.
To that end, the company will be introducing templatized modules for its platform to adapt to different use cases. The next to be released will be for arbitration hearings.
“From day one, we’ve been talking about this platform being a solution across the range of uses where users need accurate testimony,” Feigenbaum said.
Prior to launching the product, the company tested it with several pilot customers. Now, it is targeting its marketing both to law firms and to institutional customers, particularly major insurance carriers, legal departments, and government agencies.
Feigenbaum did not provide specifics on the price of the platform, but said the basic pricing is charged on a per-deposition basis. The price includes three months of hosting for the video, transcripts and exhibits, after which the company also charges for monthly hosting.
As the pandemic has forced more remote depositions, both attorneys and clients are realizing they have benefits, Feigenbaum said.
For attorneys, many are discovering that they prefer conducting depositions remotely, especially insofar as it cuts out the need to travel out of town for what might end up to be a two-hour depositions.
For clients, many are reporting that remote depositions, as well as remote arbitrations and mediations, end by being materially shorter, saving them time and cost.
All of which means this technology is here to stay, no matter how the pandemic plays out, he says.
“There’s no going back.”