Deposition Preparation in St. Louis
Preparing for a deposition can be intimidating. Knowing that you’re going to be questioned by the other side’s lawyer and that the conversation is going to be legally binding can be nerve-wracking. A deposition can last anywhere from 30 minutes to several days depending upon the amount of information the witness may have and the complexities that may be litigated in the case. A single mistake anywhere within this timeline can lead to a lost case, or even a reduced settlement in a case. It is vitally important to both the case and your personal interests that you take the time for deposition preparation. The Dixon Law Firm has several tips that can help you prepare for your upcoming deposition, but first, let’s discuss what a Deposition entails.
What is a Deposition?
A deposition is a witness’s sworn testimony that is recorded outside
of a courtroom setting. A
deposition typically takes place at a lawyers office, with both your lawyer and their
lawyer present for the deposition. To make the meeting legally binding,
a court reporter is also present in the room to record the entire conversation.
A deposition is used to gather evidence that may be used at court to improve
a claim or argument, or to settle the suit early, before court, if enough
evidence is provided that weakens the other sides claim or argument.
A deposition is not only beneficial to one side, that is why deposition preparation is so important. For example, if your case seems rock solid and the opposing side is near settling the case before court, the answers that you provide can either further convince them to settle, or your answers may weaken your case to where they feel more positive about a beneficial outcome for their claim. Deposition Preparation is key.
How do I prepare for a Deposition?
Deposition Preparation should be taken in a series of steps, with each step being of vital importance. It is important to remember that everything said in a Deposition is recorded and legally binding in court. You can either strengthen your claim, do it no harm, or weaken your claim to where you can lose a case outright. Deposition Preparation is key.
#1 – Take Your Own Notes Prior to the Deposition
Your version of the story is of equal importance to the opposing side’s argument. Starting from the beginning, notate the entire event as clearly and descriptively as you can. Taking this initial step will help you adhere to your facts and timeline of the event(s). Without a timetable to adhere to, the other sides counsel may lead you down a path where your testimony adheres to their timeline of events, which could drastically conflict with what actually happened. This is why Deposition Preparation is so important. If you do not prepare notes of the events, then the opposing side’s counsel can dictate what happened based upon their facts, and then use your confusion against you to weaken your case. Take notes, and prepare.
#2 – Treat the Deposition Seriously
A deposition is legally binding, and while you may not be in the courtroom when it happens, every bit of information that you divulge in the deposition may be used in court. Treating a deposition as a serious event will help you further prepare for it. Get enough sleep the night before, make sure that you eat properly and have hydrated enough. How you dress is also important, dress professionally. Take the time to prepare your clothes and yourself. If you take the time to fully prepare for the deposition, you will naturally consider the event to be of more importance and will treat it as such.
#3 – Prepare a Road Map of the Deposition with your Lawyer
The opposing side’s counsel will have several prepared questions that will be designed to illuminate areas of the event that could potentially help their case. You and your lawyer should go over your combined notes to ensure that you are both on the same page regarding the timeline of the events that happened. If you do not, your lawyer cannot counsel you on the correct way to answer questions, or give you proper advice on how you should word your answers. It is also important to know the potential length of the meeting. If the meeting is going to be comparatively short, you should be aware of this, but if the meeting is going to hours long and a grueling process, you should also plan accordingly.
#4 Consider What you and Your Lawyer Need to gain from the Deposition
A deposition works both ways. They can ask you questions and provide you with documents, and you can do so as well. A deposition is the discovery phase in the legal process. They find out what you know and what your version of the story is, and you also do the same. Consider the goals of your case and how you want the case to proceed, remember the roadmap that you and your lawyer created together. Use the evidence gathered during the deposition to either strengthen or clarify your claim.
#5 – Take your Time Answering Questions or Examining Documents
Never rush your answers, or allow yourself to be rushed to give an answer.
Also, if the opposing side wants you to examine some of their prepared
documents or evidence, take your time doing so. This may be the only chance
you and your lawyer have before trial to examine these documents. Take
your time, examine them thoroughly, and ask questions if you don’t
understand some of the documents or if you need clarification on certain
points or details of the documents.
The opposing counsel may also ask you the same question multiple times, but approach it from different angles. This is an attempt to get you inconsistently answer the question or questions. If this happens, they can use these inconsistencies against you in court. Take your time to think before answering any questions! The entire Deposition will be recorded, and be legally binding. Take your time. Speak slowly and concisely. Make sure that your answers are clearly heard and clearly recorded. Your attorney will counsel you through your answers and how to respond appropriately to each question.
#6 If you need a Break, Take One!
Depositions can last anywhere from a half hour, to several days. If at any point you feel overwhelmed, or physically or mentally tired, you can request a break and should take one. Maintaining a strong level of awareness if key to correctly answering and examining any documents that you are provided. Consider a deposition to be comparable to an incredibly important test that you’ve taken before. You want to ensure that your mind is sharp throughout the entire event, and any amount of fatigue or lack of energy can affect the way you answer or the way you examine documents. Remember, if you need a break, take one!
#7 Tell the Truth in a Deposition
Repeat this three times. The recording and contents of a deposition are legally binding. Do it. Repeat it three times and remember this fact. Anything you say during a deposition is taken as truth and is legally binding. If you lie during a deposition and the lie is revealed in court, the lie will be used against you and to the detriment of your case. Make sure to discuss any possible answers with your lawyer first. They will counsel you on the best way to appropriately answer questions. Tell the Truth in a Deposition!
Deposition Preparation for St. Louis and Missouri
Deposition Preparation is an integral part of every case, and the Dixon Law Firm has years of experience successfully counseling clients through the depositions. If you have an upcoming deposition and need advice on how to best prepare, or would like one of our attorneys to counsel you through the session, please do not hesitate to contact our attorneys. Deposition Preparation is vital to the success of any case, and you should not take on a deposition without the correct preparation.