Well-documented and neatly formatted deposition summaries are extremely useful during the course of a trial. Unfortunately, although these summaries are great for a quick reference, they can also be tiresome to create. To help you get started, we’re sharing our tips to write the best deposition summary.

The Basics of a Deposition Summary

Deposition summaries are a crucial tool that allow attorneys to succinctly communicate the main points covered in the full transcript. Summaries can be written in a narrative format, or they may be written like an outline. The information conveyed in the summary will match up with the original lines and pages of the deposition, allowing readers to easily reference the verbatim transcript. In addition to the written synopsis, a deposition summary may showcase key points using charts or graphs.

Why are Deposition Summaries So Important?

Throughout the litigation process, multiple parties will rely on the deposition summary. For example, in cases involving insurance providers, both the client and the adjuster will want to review the summary. Attorneys rely on deposition summaries to prepare for pretrial motions, additional depositions, and trial witness exams. They are also useful for attorneys who could not be present at the deposition. Furthermore, well-written summaries can bring attention to noteworthy testimony and potential causes for witness impeachment.

Tips to For Writing Your Summaries

Over the course of their career, every lawyer should learn how to summarize a deposition effectively. So, how can you ensure that your summary will be accurate, concise and objective? The next time you sit down to write, remember these simple steps:

Background Work

As the saying goes, ‘the journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step’. In the case of deposition summaries, our journey begins with reviewing the pleadings. To write a good summary, you need to fully understand the basis of the complaint. Try to isolate specific allegations or statements of fact which might come up in the deposition, and check to see if they appear in the transcript.

Essential Details

For most people, it can be difficult to determine how much detail to include in the summary. Indeed, this is a common mistake among inexperienced attorneys. While it can be tricky to find the right balance of specificity and summary, try to focus on key facts that could be helpful at trial.

Writing a summary is ultimately about prioritizing information. There should not be any unrelated details in the summary, and it should reflect the focus of the deposition. As a rule of thumb, well-written summaries should be able to convey 5 pages worth of testimony in a single page of summary.

Remember Presentation

While formatting can differ between summaries, it’s important to invest time in the presentation of the text. One of the best strategies is to create two columns, with the leftmost column being roughly ¼ of the overall width of the page. This layout allows you to constrain line & page numbers into the ‘margin’ space you have created. In the right column, you’ll include the date, case identifiers, witness names, and the summary.

Final Thoughts

Thanks for reading! We hope that we’ve given you some inspiration for your next deposition summary. If you enjoyed this article, let us know in the comments and feel free to share it on social media. Finally, when you plan your next deposition, don’t forget to take advantage of our plentiful deposition tools, including virtual exhibit management, remote court reporting, and video conferencing!