Cary-based vTestify was originally built to solve a specific need—to give the legal system digital access to a dwindling number of court reporters. It did that by creating a virtual platform so that legal professionals could remotely access the skills of court reporters in areas where there was a shortage.
Now that Covid-19 has forced most of the legal world to go digital and virtual, vTestify’s platform is being deployed on a wider scope to keep trials on track. Litigators need a secure platform to hold remote depositions and mediation with the right features to share and stamp important legal documents, said CEO Mike Hewitt. vTestify is the solution.
“Zoom can allow you to connect,” Hewitt said, “but you can’t capture that record in an appropriate way, you can’t introduce exhibits and put an exhibit stamp on it. Those are very material points to the process.”
Hewitt said this is because platforms like Zoom are horizontally built. Instead, vTestify is vertically oriented and has been curated specifically for legal use since its founding in 2015. The startup has gone through both the LexisNexis Legal Tech Accelerator Program and the Duke Law Tech Lab accelerator.
In addition to its advanced layered security using Amazon Web Services and S3 security protocols, vTestify includes features distinct to the law. Its ScriptSync feature uses artificial intelligence technology to sync a rough transcript to a video recording of a session. The Exhibit Management feature allows litigators to upload and control the sharing of exhibits, timestamp them using industry standards and archive them in the secure Amazon Web Services Cloud.
Litigators and their clients can also use Sidebar Rooms, just like they would in a non-remote setting.
Because of vTestify’s verticalized platform, Dallas-based Goucher Park Spivey (GPS), a legal service and court reporting firm, is now using vTestify to conduct all of their remote depositions. GPS President Reesa Park said vTestify has been instrumental in making sure depositions proceed in a timely fashion in the current crisis.
“The most important segment we service is sick plaintiffs in asbestos litigation,” Park said. “They need to be deposed, and time is of the essence. We’ve been able to deploy the vTestify platform so those depositions can proceed. We’ve had really great feedback.”
vTestify has made “significant changes” to its platform in order to accommodate asbestos claims, said Hewitt. Where it usually accommodates one plaintiff and one defendant, in asbestos claims there can be up to 25 defendants who are gravely ill and need to testify immediately.
“We’re able to keep the wheels of justice moving,” Hewitt said. “The old cliche is ‘justice delayed is justice denied.’”
Since the Covid-19 outbreak, Hewitt said vTestify has seen consumer usage increase incredibly. In March, consumer minutes increased 10x, and minutes increased even more in the first few days of April.
Even before the Covid-19 outbreak, Hewitt said he has received inquiries from companies in different sectors, like real estate, who were interested in using vTestify. For now, though, he said he was focused on keeping the process of law going forward, so that justice is served.
“There’s a very high level of specialization,” Hewitt said, “and that’s what took us four years to get this product where it is… In the four years, we learned all the things that are required—that vertical nature, that specialization, and why law is special.”