Tips for Clients Preparing for Deposition
Preparing for a deposition can be stressful if you are unfamiliar with the process. It can be intimidating for a client to sit in the “hot seat” and answer a battery of questions from the opposing party’s attorney. Ideally, your attorney will help prepare you for a deposition by explaining what to expect throughout the process. Here are some additional tips that may help you feel more comfortable during your deposition.
Tip One: Tell the Truth: It is understandable that as a client, you want to help support your side of the conflict. However, it is very important to remember that you must tell the truth during your deposition. Even though you are not in a courtroom when the deposition takes place, everything you say at the deposition is treated as though you are testifying before a judge.
Tip Two: Review the pleadings and your allegations. By reviewing your pleadings and allegations, you will have a refreshed picture of your side of the conflict. It can help you feel more comfortable in the deposition if you have thought about anticipated answers to potential questions ahead of time. Of course, you cannot bring any notes to the deposition, but thinking about what you might be asked and your potential answers is permissible, and even encouraged.
Tip Three: Repeat the question in your head. When an attorney asks you a question, repeat it to yourself in your head before answering. This will ensure that you understand the question. It will give you a moment to phrase your answer. If you realize you do not understand the question, you should say so. The attorney will likely rephrase the question to make it easier to answer. If you begin to answer a question, those attending the deposition and those reviewing it in anticipation of and at trial, will assume you understood what it meant.
Tip Four: Give a brief answer in response to each question. Try to answer each question in no more than one or two sentences. Answer “yes” or “no” questions in precisely that fashion. Resist the temptation to fill awkward silences. The longer the answer you give, the more information the opposing party has. Even if you do not say something that negatively affects your case, providing more information than necessary only muddies the legal issues. Therefore, it is especially important to understand the question asked. It will pay dividends in the long run.
Tip Five: If you begin to feel upset, remember that what you say matters. In a deposition, every word is recorded by a stenographer. The stenographer will prepare a transcript of the deposition that will become part of the record of the case. This record will be read by the judge and the opposing party. Even in a moment of strong emotion, avoid saying something that could damage your reputation in the case. If you begin to feel frustrated, angry, or otherwise upset remember that every word you say will be written down. Remain respectful to those attending the deposition, and ask for a short break if you feel you need it.
Tip Six: Listen to the advice your attorney gives you, and try to follow it. Attorneys prepare for, attend, and perform many depositions. Your attorney will likely have advice for you. Take the advice your attorney gives you, and do your best to follow it.
Now that you have a few tips for preparing for your deposition, you may have additional questions about legal matters affecting you. Contact an attorney at Kelly & Brand, Attorneys at Law, LLC for sound legal advice tailored to your unique circumstances.