Deposition Disaster

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September 17, 2012 by williamsjustliving

I sat in on a deposition several weeks ago. It is said that one learns a lot from one’s failures. I personally believe that I can learn a lot from someone else’s failures. Don’t get me wrong: the deposition wasn’t a failure….but it was pretty close. Therefore, I learned a lot about what an attorney needs to do during a deposition.

1. Make eye contact when asking questions of the deponent. If you look the deponent in the eye while you are asking the question, you build rapport with that person. Furthermore, you can pick up on non-verbal cues that tell if your question is confusing or if you can get more information by continuing to needle a certain issue.

2. Always be able to rephrase a question using completely different language. If the deponent tells you that your question is confusing, repeating the same question more slowly is not going to help. In fact, that’s a little bit insulting.

3. Don’t use strings of acronyms. BTW, did you LOL at the ASPCA FY report? No? You know why? Because no one understands what that is supposed to mean. Will you, as an attorney, understand what that gibberish means when you get the transcript back? Probably not.

4. Speaking of the transcript: a transcript is being taken…you don’t have to take copious notes during the deposition. Too much writing during the deposition gets in the way of making eye contact.

5. Look for signs that the deponent is annoyed or confused and adjust your attitude and tone accordingly.

6. When you ask a question, you should already have the type of answer you are looking for in mind. Continue to rephrase the question, if the answer you are getting is evasive or non-responsive. If your questions don’t get answered, that very expensive transcript created by an equally expensive court reporter will be useless.

What other things do I need to know about doing depositions the right way?

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