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How to Prepare for Your Next Deposition

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Many young attorneys cut their teeth on taking depositions. Before you ever go to trial, depositions are essential in gathering information necessary to prevail. Below, we offer a few tips for preparing for your next deposition. Reach out to our qualified and experienced Phoenix court reporters for deposition services throughout the state of Arizona.

Do your homework. A deposition is not a trial, but you are still given a limited amount of time to elicit important information. You are on the clock. Make sure you review all evidence in the case that relates to the witness ahead of time. Know who the witness is, where they work, and how they are tied to the case. Know what information you want to elicit from them and what topics you want to avoid. If you can, get a sense of their personality ahead of time; there may be certain tactics that will be more helpful in getting them talking, as well as certain behaviors you should avoid.

Prepare for objections. You can expect opposing counsel to lob objections at you from time to time throughout the deposition. Unlike a trial, there is no judge present to overrule or sustain the objection, so the purpose of the objection is more to put it on the record. You can generally tell the witness to keep talking. Make sure to get your responses to objections on the record as well, if important testimony is being elicited and the objections threaten that testimony. Review your outline and try to anticipate objections opposing counsel will make, and plot out responses. You might even have short sentences written in the margins next to certain questions with pre-planned responses and relevant evidence code provisions. That being said, you do not always have to respond to counsel–you can keep your focus on the witness and assure them they should keep talking.

Bring copies, be organized. The more preparation you do ahead of time, the more time you will have to get at the heart of the matter with the witness. You only have so many hours for your deposition; better to avoid wasting that time shuffling through papers or trying to share documents. Print copies of relevant documents for yourself, opposing counsel, and the witness. Have a binder of everything you are going to show the witness, and make sure that binder is tabbed and labeled. Mark the tab numbers of documents and admissible evidence in your deposition outline, so you know that when you get to topic X you (or your paralegal) should already be pulling out document Y. Pre-label copies of documents you intend to enter into evidence, so that all you need to do is write “1” or “A” on the label to prep it for admission.

Be structured but flexible. It is important to go into a deposition with all of your ducks in a row. You should know in advance what topics you want to cover, what key information you want to elicit, and certain questions you want to make sure to ask. You should have an outline as to how the deposition should proceed. Once you start the deposition, however, it is key to be flexible. If a witness gives you an unexpected answer, you should not ignore them and stick to your script. If a witness says something interesting or valuable, make sure to follow-up, even if it deviates from your prepared outline–you may get something much better than you anticipated.

Hire a good court reporter. In addition to all of your legal preparation, it is important to do some administrative preparation as well. Make sure you have a reliable court reporting service available. Get your deposition room in order, including renting conference space where necessary. If you are taking a deposition remotely, make sure your court reporting service and your witness are set up with appropriate remote conferencing materials.

If you need experienced, detail-oriented court reporting services in Arizona, contact the Phoenix offices of Ottmar & Associates at 602-485-1488.