Attorney-Client Preparation for a Deposition
Depositions are an inevitable part of any lawsuit. If you are curious about what a deposition is, see our previous post here. This post is about preparing for a deposition, which we know can be nerve-racking. At Griswold LaSalle, we believe preparing a client for their deposition to be taken is one of the more crucial aspects of a case. This importance is two-fold. First, we want to ensure that our clients testify consistently with our theory of the case. Second, depositions will provide a preview into how a person will testify at trial, under pressure from opposing counsel.
Typically, we have our clients come into the office for preparation a few days before the date of the deposition. First, we explain how the deposition will typically go forward. The client will be sworn in as a witness under penalty of perjury. A court reporter will take down everything being said in the deposition. The deposition may be video-taped. We instruct our clients to listen to each question and pause to think about their answer before responding. This provides both a clear record and the opportunity for us as attorneys to object or clarify questions.
Next, during the preparation, we will typically review the important documents and writings involved in the case to ensure that the client is readily familiar with the facts. It is also common to play good attorney / bad attorney. In other words, we like to ask friendly questions to the client which allow them to tell their story and state the facts as clearly and plainly as possible.
However, once the client becomes comfortable, our attorneys may switch roles and act as the opposing lawyer. In this role, the attorney will be more aggressive, attempt to trap the client in any inconsistences and otherwise try to throw the client off from their comfort level. Experiencing this first with your own attorney takes away the surprise should it occur at the deposition and normalizes the client to that type of deposition style. While not all depositions become contentious, it is best to have the client ready for such situations.
Deposition preparation, depending upon the complexity of your case, can take between an hour and half of a day. A client cannot be over prepared to have his or her deposition taken.