Preparing for Your Deposition
Depositions are an important part of the discovery phase of a lawsuit, during which both sides gather information and evidence to use at trial. A deposition is an opportunity for the opposing lawyer to ask you questions about the case in person and under oath. Given that the majority of civil cases settle before trial, the opportunity to take the witness stand against your opponent in court is unlikely to actually arise. However, if you are party to a lawsuit, you have a much better chance of being called to give testimony at a deposition.
Your answers at a deposition have extremely significant implications for the potential outcome at trial and for the posture of the case heading into settlement negotiations. Therefore, it is important to be adequately prepared. Although the best preparation includes a face-to-face meeting with your attorney beforehand to review relevant documents and go over your strategy for the deposition, the following are a few basic tips to keep in mind:
- Listen carefully. Listen to each question and make sure you understand it before answering. If the question is confusing, ask the attorney for clarification. Give a complete answer to every question, but don’t volunteer information that wasn’t asked for.
- Take your time. Take a brief pause before responding to each question. This will give you a chance to consider the question and formulate your response. It will also allow your attorney time to object, if necessary. Finally, controlling your pace will help you stay calm in the event the opposing lawyer tries to get you riled up (as can occasionally be the case).
- If you don’t remember, you don’t remember. Telling the opposing attorney that you don’t recall is a perfectly valid response, if true. Don’t guess at an answer if you are unsure or your memory is unclear.
- You can take a break. If you get flustered or need to consult with your lawyer, it is ok to ask for a break as long as there is no question pending at the time.
In addition to the general tips above, also be aware of the particular styles employed by questioning attorneys. The opposing attorney may use one of various strategies in attempting to get damaging testimony out of you at the deposition. For example, some attorneys act overly nice in an effort to lull the witness into giving up more information than they intend. Others take the opposite approach, badgering the witness in an attempt to rattle them. Another strategy is to wear the witness out with lengthy and repetitive questioning.
Minnesota Civil Litigation Attorneys
Although the tips above are useful, the specific things you need to keep in mind for your deposition depend largely on the facts of the case, the attorney taking the deposition, and your capability as a witness. Given the potential significance your testimony has on the outcome of your case, it is essential to have an in-depth discussion with an attorney before showing up to be deposed.
At Collins, Buckley, Sauntry, & Haugh, PLLP, our litigation attorneys have taken and defended countless depositions in a wide range of civil matters. Our goal is to make sure you are as prepared as possible going into your deposition in order to set your case up for the best possible outcome.
For more information, call 651-227-0611 or contact us online.