Legal depositions are not something that most people are familiar with. In fact, many people have only a television or movie depiction understanding of depositions and other court room proceedings.
This means that when you’re tasked with getting your client ready for a deposition, you’ll need to be extra prepared. Your client will have a skewed understanding of what really happens during a deposition, which can make your client overly nervous or even quite stressed.
Your role as part of the legal preparation team is ensure your client understands what happens during a deposition and to ensure your client is as ready as possible for the questions that will be asked during the deposition. We know from talking with local court reporting companies, that many clients are often ill-prepared for depositions, resulting in less-than-successful questioning and defense strategies.
Make sure you follow our recommended key steps for preparing a client for a deposition and that you use our deposition preparation checklist. The more preparation the better – for you, the client, and the case.
Key Steps In Preparing A Client for a Deposition
As part of your local court reporting team, you’ve been asked to get a client ready for a deposition. To prevent this client preparation phase from being a stressful experience for you and your client, we suggest you remember these key steps in client deposition preparation:
- Prepare yourself. Yes, a big part of a successful client deposition preparation meeting is doing advance work to prepare yourself. Take the time to think about your client – how well can this person answer questions, what type of witness do you think this client will be? The answers to these questions should guide your preparation session.
- Think about opposing counsel. Have you worked with this opposing counsel before? What did your previous experiences teach you? Now think of your client and how he or she may respond to the opposing counsel’s demeanor and approach.
- Focus points. During the deposition, your client may get flustered or distracted. Having pre-defined focus points can be vital in keeping your client calm and relaxed. Review these focus points with your client and explain how and when you may use these words or cues during the deposition.
- Questions, questions, questions. Your client will face a range of questions. Practice and rehearse the questioning portion of the deposition. Try different approaches to test how your client may respond to different questioning tactics. Outline all the questions and facts that you assume will be covered in the deposition. Make sure your client is comfortable with answering potentially sensitive or probing questions.
- Prepare a deposition day schedule. You want to be calm and prepared. You want your client to be calm and prepared. So, have a schedule in place for the deposition day – know what time you’ll meet your client, where you’ll meet, and have an idea for how long the deposition might last.
Above all else, don’t leave this to the last minute. You want to avoid any uncertainty or stressful scenarios that can jeopardize the validity of the deposition. Recent research into client deposition preparation emphasizes how vital the advanced preparation phase can be – so do not skip this process.
Deposition Preparation Checklist
Rely on our deposition preparation checklist when thinking about how to prepare a client for trial or deposition. Remind your client of these key deposition guidelines:
- Always tell the truth.
- Don’t embellish your answers.
- If you do not understand a question, ask for clarification.
- Don’t rush your answers.
- Speak slowly and clearly.
- Remain confident.
- Listen to the questions and pay attention to leading questions.
- When presented with documents, thoroughly read and review these before answering any questions about the documents.
- If you need a break, say so.
Remember that the success of the client deposition depends on how well you’re prepared and how well your client is prepared. Take the time to adequately prepare yourself and your client for the deposition.