I’ve been sued for libel five times. I know a thing or two about lawsuits from firsthand experience.
I can’t get over how inadequately attorneys prepare their clients for deposition. Big bucks, reputations, lives are often on the line and people just go into depositions without sufficient preparation.
* Don’t volunteer. Only answer the question you are asked. You’re not having a conversation with the other side’s lawyer.
* Don’t speculate. Testify only about what you actually recall about what you knew or did.
* Avoid soundbytes. Don’t inject humor or sarcasm to lighten the mood. Those comments, taken out of context, can be used to put you and the company in a bad light.
* Read the documents. Witnesses often fail to read carefully documents they are shown before they start answering questions.
* When your lawyer objects to a question, listen to the objection because in that objection, your lawyer may be able to give you clues to what the problem with that question may be.
Always remember that you are only required to give the facts as you know them. You do not have to give opinions.
KEEP IT SIMPLE.
DO NOT REFER TO ANY NOTES OR BRING ANY DOCUMENTS WITH YOU TO THE DEPOSITION UNLESS YOU ARE SPECIFICALLY REQUESTED TO BY YOUR ATTORNEY.
DO NOT reach in your pocket for any documents unless your attorney asks you to. If the opposing counsel is interested in obtaining any documents from you, there are other legal procedures with which to obtain them. LEAVE YOUR DRIVER’S LICENSE IN YOUR CAR AND DO NOT BRING IT TO THE DEPOSITION WITH YOU.
Do not allow the opposing attorney to make you feel angry or excited.
If your attorney begins to speak, stop whatever answer you may be giving and allow him or her to speak.
Take your time in answering a question.
ALWAYS TELL THE TRUTH.
Never joke in a deposition.
DO NOT VOLUNTEER ANY INFORMATION THAT IS NOT REQUESTED.
Be very careful with estimates of time, speed and distance.
If you can’t estimate distance well, just say so.
After your deposition is over, do not chat with the opponent or their attorneys. Remember, the other attorney is your legal enemy. Do not let a friendly manner cause you to drop your guard and become chatty.