Video Deposition Business
I am going to start doing video depositions for one law firm and hoping that it will prove lucrative enough to do it for other firms in town. I looked around the web and saw a few things that were helpful, but just wondering if anyone has anything that I could take a look at along the lines of a letter to send out to firms soliciting business, what equipment I need to bring, and any sort of code of ethics.
A link that was enticing but not worth $100 to me was: http://www.videouniversity.com/shop/legal-video-specialist-business-kit
thanks in advance
A site I came across recently that apparently is looking for videographers for legal stuff as well might be something to take a look at.
it looks kinda like a Cow/Linked in thing for legal folk.
Like I said before, I heard they are encouraging Video professionals to sign up as well because of the need of video work in the legal world. Check it out and see if it helps!
"I want to have a cool quote at the bottom of my signature, just like everyone else on the cow forum!" -Jeff Bonano
I used to do this right out of college, was lucrative but times have changed and these days geenrally they won't hire you to do depo's unless you have some certification first, becasue the stakes of failure on location are too great. LEVA and WEVA may be places to look for that, some court-reporter schools may do it too.
In my day, back when puppies were the oldest animal, it was simple to just hand off a VHS at the end of a session or make a few dubs at an obscene markup. Modern depo work revolves around DVD authoring and duplication, with newar-insatnt turn-around, as well as being able to playback in court later, and the popular guys use a custom indexing system that ties time code on the DVD to time synch with a court reporter's transcript and bar codes. You also are expected to have perfect audio and 100 percent uptime with zero failures, so you need some equipment redundancy as "insurance". All to say that it is not "easy money" any more. And if you screw up, well, they ARE lawyers. P.O.'d lawyers, at that.
While it is possible to get business marketing to law firms, 90% of my legal work comes from court reporting firms. Right now, law suits are way down because a lot of folks are settling out of court to get quick cash in this economic downturn. I used to be able to depend on anywhere from 4-10 depos a month. Last year I did 8 total and I've been doing this for 5 years for some very high end reporting firms. Another factor is some of the larger nationwide reporting firms are lowballing to push the smaller local companies out. The larger firms don't pay squat. If you don't mind working for peanuts, try marketing to some of the nationwide firms.
These firms also require you to be certified which is bogus since there is no government mandated certification by any state except NY and possibly CA. The certifying entities are private companies with no legal stature to issue any certification. The only thing they can certify is their desire to part you with your hard earned dollars.
Personally, I would look elsewhere for that bread and butter income. That being said, with an aggressive, well though out marketing campaign, I can see the possibility of getting some quantity albeit low paying work if you live in a major metropolitan area.
Here is an equipment list you will need if you want to do this
2 cameras that imprint timecode
2 6 channel mixers
1 cheap tripod
1 3 point light kit
1 professional neutral backdrop
2 sets of headphones
1 cheap computer with iMovie or Windows Moviemaker
You will also have to become an expert in both local and federal rules of civil procedure and it's helpful to become a Notary as well. Be prepared for last minute cancellations where you don't get paid a dime even if you show up and set up. Firms that pay net 90. Firms that don't pay. It CAN work, but like anything, you will get out of it what you put into it. For me, it's just not worth it to pursue any more. If I get calls I'll do them if I get my rate, but I'm really not going after new business.
Higher Ground Media
I just stumbled on this thread so I know I'm way late, but I thought it worth mentioning one thing in response to the part about "any sort of code of ethics". It's very important to understand that, in this context, you'll always be dealing with privileged information that is not yet public and often never will be. So, the things you hear in depos are absolutely not to be discussed with co-workers, friends, girlfriends, wives, etc. (who always have the potential of becoming a disgruntled ex-). You'll also need to be far more cognizant of what you do with tapes, digital files, etc. after they've served their purpose than in any other context of video work ... there was no YouTube when I was doing legal video and it's a scary thought considering some of the things I saw/heard. As Mark said, you do not want to deal with P.O.'d lawyers.
Also very much like Mark described, I was lucky enough to get in on the ground floor of this niche and did a lot of legal video work just after college. For me, depos were more a lead-in to more lucrative "day-in-the-life" and "mediation summary" documentary style videos contracted for high-dollar cases. I've been away from any of that for a long time so I'm not sure how strong the market is now, but it may be worth aiming beyond just depos.
I was just about to order the legal video kit . Do you know of any reason that it is not worth the money