7 minute read
How Rahul Ravipudi Takes Perfect Depositions with Steno
For the past 20 years, Rahul Ravipudi’s legal career has focused on catastrophic injury and wrongful death cases. He also represents consumers in class actions lawsuits.
At the start of the pandemic, Rahul, a partner at Panish Shea Boyle & Ravipudi LLP, teamed up with Steno to help us create solutions to enable lawyers to keep practicing despite lockdowns and ongoing court closures.
In Steno, Rahul found a technology-centered, thought partner to meet the needs of his complex caseload. Read this Q&A to learn why industry leader Rahul Ravipudi relies on Steno for his court reporting and litigation support needs.
How did you become such a respected attorney and partner at your firm?
I've been practicing as a trial lawyer for a little over 20 years, 100% on the plaintiff side representing victims who suffered catastrophic losses, injuries, deaths of loved ones, in addition to bringing class actions, antitrust and complex business litigation matters.
Since my second year in law school, I have had the good fortune of working with some fantastic trial lawyers at some excellent firms. They exposed me to what you can do to help people in some of the worst situations possible.
Through learning from the best of the best, I've had the privilege of trying some very sophisticated and hotly-contested cases. I'm grateful for my clients that I was able to get some significant results for them.
Group photo of Partners Brian Panish, Adam Shea, Kevin Boyle, and Rahul Ravipudi.
What made you choose to start working with Steno?
I’ve known Steno’s Co-Founder, Dylan Ruga, for quite some time. When he started Steno, I was very interested in their focus on utilizing technology.
Everything locked down when the pandemic came, and depositions could no longer occur in person. Immediately, as trial lawyers and litigators, we needed to pivot to keep our cases progressing.
There are no better people to work with than Dylan, the Co-Founder and CEO Greg Hong, and the team at Steno.
They helped develop a platform for a wildfire mass tort case I was working on. We collaborated to create this platform because the defense was concerned about using Zoom due to security issues.
Steno created Steno Connect with easy-to-use features specifically for my needs. Sharing and publishing exhibits remotely became simple. They even mailed devices to our witnesses so they could safely appear remotely.
Through that, I got a chance to learn a lot about Steno, see how they operate and fully understand the power of technology.
Identify the biggest challenges you faced with court reporting agencies before Steno?
The challenges in the deposition process have existed since I started practicing law.
Scheduling a deposition used to be complicated, and inevitably, they would get canceled. Before Steno, this process was complex and came with fees and red tape.
At our firm, 100% of our depositions are videotaped. High-quality remote depositions require:
- That the witness is visible
- The video is clear and centered
- The background fits the context and isn’t distracting
All of those things are unbelievably important.
On the back end, transcript accuracy is also vital. It must be easy to make deposition cuts and utilize that video in subsequent depositions or trials.
The last challenge is related to exhibits. Printing a giant stack of paper with several copies of each exhibit was onerous.
A lot of those things, not all of them, but a lot have been cured through Steno. What I love about the company is that they’re technology-based. There are always ways to improve, and Steno is willing to listen to my feedback.
They’ve found solutions every time I've raised a concern. That has never happened with any other court reporting agency.
My workflow is a lot easier through Steno. The attorney should not feel taxed in any partnership with a court reporting vendor as the consumer. I appreciate how Steno makes getting depositions done easy.
How Does Steno Connect compare to other videoconferencing platforms you’ve used for remote depositions?
It would be wrong to say anything other than I love Steno Connect since I feel like I'd played a little part in helping develop it. It is fantastic. It's so easy to use.
You don't need a sophisticated computer or any downloaded apps. You can access it via your web browser and then personalize how you want your screen to look.
Steno Connect enables the high-quality preservation of trial and deposition exhibits. All exhibits are electronic, and you can simply drag and drop them to display from your private folder. With a few clicks, you can also title and publish them.
It's so easy to start sharing exhibits without feeling like you need to multitask between managing technology, examining a witness, and handling the documents.
Without Steno Connect, it was hard to magnify or call out specific questions, make highlights, or add basic markups.
We used to rely on a video of the witness looking down at a sheet of paper, and nobody knew what they were writing. When the exhibit annotation process concluded, we would have a copy with the markups, which may be in black and white and not in the original quality.
The team as Steno has built a pretty amazing product. The witness can mark documents, and then we can save the video of that markup and the annotated document itself digitally in full color.
Everything is captured with Steno Connect and Steno’s video services, which translates to wonderful trial exhibits where there's nothing lost in translation. There’s no more ambiguity in who made the markings. That means less time spent recording who annotated what because it’s all captured on video.
How would you describe your experience working with the team at Steno?
Every single person is easy to work with on a few levels.
First, they’re incredibly responsive. If I ever have a request, there's always someone there to respond, even in the dark hours of the morning. I don't have to worry about the little things.
Second, Steno is incredibly efficient at troubleshooting. When inevitably someone has a Wi-Fi problem, Steno makes sure the problem is identified and solved. They even do a great job anticipating issues before they arise.
For example, one of Steno's free services is technology training for all parties before the deposition. As a result, we have fewer speed bumps when the deposition starts.
Finally, there will always be issues that can lead to complaints. Like most lawyers, I am never shy to complain when things aren't working the way I want them to. From a customer service perspective, Steno could respond to complaints in a few ways:
- “Too bad, that’s just the way it works.”
- “It's your problem; you created it.”
- “Let’s collaborate to find a personalized solution.”
Every single time, 100% of the time, they are a thought partner and work on finding a solution quickly. I appreciate having that level of confidence in my work.
I know that if there is an issue, it will get solved.
Rahul was interviewed on CNN about his client, Valentia Orellana Peralta.
How has Steno revolutionized your court reporting experience?
The topic of remote depositions comes up a lot among lawyers, especially trial lawyers. We always ask, “Hey, what do you think? Will remote depositions go way once a pandemic is over?”
At the very beginning of the pandemic, I'd say 90% said, “I'm going back to in-person depositions as soon as I can.” Now, and I credit Steno in large part for this, many lawyers agree that they would be happy to continue working remotely going forward.
The future of remote deposition taking and utilizing technology to enhance litigation is here, and it's here to stay.
I'm not a tech person, but Steno is my tech entity. I’m looking forward to seeing all of the enhancements and improvements they will engineer.
Would you recommend Steno to someone looking for a new court reporting agency?
If I were talking to a friend about whom I use for my deposition services, I would absolutely recommend Steno. For those on the fence, I just tell them to talk to Greg and Dylan and find out a little more about the people who work for Steno. I have not heard anyone come back to me saying that connecting with them was a terrible idea.
Steno has made the whole litigation process easier.
Sometimes ease comes at the expense of lower quality, but not in the case of Steno. My work is more manageable, and the quality is better. That brings better results for my clients and a better process as I prepare cases for trial.
It makes me so happy to have Steno. You’ve made my life a lot easier.
Table of Contents
- How did you become such a respected attorney?
- Why work with Steno?
- Biggest challenges with court reporting agencies
- Steno Connect vs other videoconferencing platforms
- Describe your experience working with Steno
- How has Steno revolutionized your court reporting experience?
- Would you recommend Steno to a friend?
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