Whether you are about to go through a deposition yourself or are just curious, a deposition is a very important process in a litigation case and is worth understanding. HOWEVER – depositions are not as scary as they may sound! A deposition is basically an attorney’s ability to ask individuals involved in a case questions in preparation for court on the record.
Here are 7 tips to demystify the deposition!
1.) Tell The Truth
Those involved in a deposition are required to tell the truth. Your attorney will be right by your side and will step in when needed. For example, if the opposing side asks a question that is irrelevant or inappropriate to the case, your attorney will be there for you. Most questions in a deposition are standard questions that you will have already answered previously – just relax and answer each question truthfully.
2.) Don’t argue your case
This is not an opportunity to try and convince anyone how good your case is. The deposition is just an attempt for the attorneys involved in the case to get information. Attempting to convince anyone that your case or side is correct will just cause headaches and waste of time, and may even cause damage to your case in certain situations. You and your attorney will have the opportunity to argue your case MANY other times.
3.) Wear nice clothes
The standard dress code for a deposition includes slacks and a long sleeve dress shirt for men, and a conservative dress, or pants and a dress shirt for women. For both men and women, it is best to wear a pair of dress shoes. You should dress up not only for presentation purposes, but to feel comfortable in the room. Everyone involved will most likely be wearing very professional clothing. You want to present yourself as a confident and trustworthy person and feel confident while doing so.
4.) Listen to each question carefully
Before quickly answering a question, make sure you fully understand what they are asking. If you are not 100% sure, you are more than welcome to ask for clarification or to repeat the question. A great tip is to pause before responding to each question. You may already have an answer in mind when the attorney is asking you questions, but you may answer more clearly if you give yourself a moment to consider everything. NOTE: If you understand the question fully, but do not know – you can say that you do not know!
5.) Avoid giving extra information
Sometimes you may have a million things to say in response to a question about the case, but it is best to keep your answers as short as possible and provide only the information they are asking for. You do not need to explain yourself further than what the question is asking. Be concise and to the point. Volunteering extra information is the last thing you want to do regardless of the situation in the case.
6.) Take a break!
You are in control of the deposition. You can take a moment to collect yourself, calm down, use the restroom, get a snack or drink etc. Depositions can last several hours, and it is important that you are comfortable and collected.
7.) Listen to your attorney
Your attorney will be there for you to tell you in detail what is expected of you, how to react to questions, what types of questions they will be asking, questions to be conscious of, and will step in if the opposing side is being inappropriate.
A deposition is basically a legal interview of how an event unfolded. It is nothing to be concerned about as long as you follow your attorney’s instructions about etiquette and are truthful when answering the questions you will get through it!