As a lawyer, one of the essential things you will be doing is taking depositions. These are the cornerstone of many cases. This is because this is where many facts about the case emerge. When you are a new associate, you are often tasked with this job so it can be nerve-wracking to have such an important part of the case in your hands. To make it easier for you, here are some useful tips so that you can come out of your deposition-taking experience smelling like roses.
Know Your Case
A common problem that comes up with those taking depositions is that they don’t know what they are talking about. If you don’t know the case inside and out, you won’t be able to ask any rewarding questions. Know what exactly the case is about, the allegations, and the standards that need to be met for your side. Look at the details of the case so that you know what you need to prove then start formulating your questions from there.
It is a good thing that many jurisdictions have jury instructions for particular cases. These tell what the jury to look out for when they make their decision. Basing your approach on these instructions is a great idea since it covers everything.
Assess the Witness
Now that you know what you’re aiming for, you’ll need to learn how to get the info out of your witness. To do this, you have to know more about the witness and their purpose in the case. For example, there are witnesses that are there to provide info on the subject. Other witnesses are there because they saw something happen. The purpose of the witness will determine how you will question them and what questions to ask.
Besides deciding on the approach, you also need to consider whether the witnesses will attend the trial themselves. If they are not, then your deposition will be the main way you can present information from them. This means you need to be more in-depth in questioning. If they will be at the trial, then you can afford to be a bit lax in questioning since they will be there for clarifications.
Remember the Transcript
Depositions need transcripts. Though videotaping and audio recordings are useful, there is nothing like reading testimony to refresh knowledge and share it out with your team. This is why your transcripts need to be clear and understandable. Court reporters in Phoenix, AZ, and nearby areas may be skilled, but you can ruin it by not speaking audibly or stuttering. Try to deliver questions confidently and be as clear as possible. The transcript will reflect this, and your deposition will be much better. Also, try not to use gestures too much. They will not show on the transcript and can ruin the flow of reading.
Always respect the witness. You can be aggressive but do not be hostile. Remember that the transcript will record your interactions with them and the other side might use this as ammunition.
As a lawyer, taking depositions is an important skill. Some lawyers don’t ever develop the skill properly, and it hobbles their career. Don’t be one of those lawyers and heed the tips above. With their help, you should be proud of the depositions that you take.