Depositions are a crucial component of your case, especially in civil court. Providing the best representation for each client requires even seasoned attorneys to prepare beforehand. Of course, when the time comes to put all of that preparation to the test, you might find yourself drawing a blank. This is because complicated strategies and principles can be very difficult to recall when you’re in a stressful situation. For that reason, we’re going to share 5 very simple tips for deposition preparation that you’ll be able to put to use right away. Let’s get started!
1. Be a Fearless Advocate
When conducting your deposition, make an effort to maintain composure and project confidence. Of course, projecting confidence is easier said than done – especially when it feels like everything is riding on upcoming testimony.
Before you step into the deposition suite, remember that cases aren’t won or lost during a single deposition. Depositions are just a discovery tool in your fact-finding arsenal. Maintaining this perspective allows you to acknowledge the importance of the deposition without feeling overwhelmed and panicked. It will also be easier to display confidence if you’ve thoroughly reviewed the details of your case.
2. Do Not Be Distracted or Bullied
Avoiding distraction is one of the key elements of a successful deposition. In order to avoid distraction, you must first understand exactly where you want to end up. Consider your deposition outline and remember what facts you’d like to establish. You should continue asking questions until you feel that you’ve received the information you need.
Oftentimes, young attorneys become distracted from their overall strategy if the witness gives incorrect information. You need to resist the temptation to educate or correct the witness if they’ve given false statements. Instead, ask some additional clarifying questions and encourage the witness to elaborate on the false statement for the record. You will have the opportunity to question their statements and raise your counterpoints at trial.
3. Use Bullet Points
Preparation is the great equalizer among attorneys. As you prepare for the deposition, structure your outline using bullet points rather than long paragraphs or wordy sentences. Bullet points make it easy to see the broad strokes of your argument without encouraging you to read prepared statements directly from the page. This tactic is ineffective for establishing rapport with the witness. Instead, use your bullet points as a checklist of facts that you’d like on the record. Allow the conversation to flow naturally and mark off each bullet point as you cover it.
4. Look at the Witness Holistically
As you prepare your questions for the witness, take time to review their role in the overall case. Did they witness an accident? Can they provide a first-hand account of alleged criminal activity? Next, consider why the opposing counsel would call the witness before reviewing their initial disclosures and interrogatory responses. This practice will provide insight into the role your witness will play in the opposition’s strategy.
When you evaluate the witness, there’s one additional question you should consider. Is the witness likely to attend the trial? If your witness is unlikely to appear at trial and cannot be subpoenaed, you should revise your questioning accordingly. Consider investing in deposition videography, which can offset the challenges you’ll face at trial.
5. Understand the Rules & Check Your Work
This tip may be the easiest on our list. Before you enter the deposition suite, be sure that you understand all the applicable court rules, procedures, and limitations. Take a few moments to review allowable objections, time limits for questioning, and the rules for conferring with your client. Before agreeing to the usual stipulations, consider whether you’d like to add anything else for the record.
Lastly, if you’ve conducted depositions in the past (even for different cases), consider reviewing the transcripts to examine your own verbal habits. This can help you be more aware of the filler words that you often gravitate towards, and you’ll be more mindful of them during your next proceeding.
Thanks for reading! If you enjoyed this article, let us know on social media! Lastly, please don’t hesitate to contact us with any questions or concerns. Lastly, when you’re ready to schedule your next deposition, consider partnering with an experienced legal support company like First Legal Depositions.