My number six tip on how to give an effective deposition is don’t make it easy on the other side.
The attorney who is questioning you has a tough job. There are some areas of questioning where the attorney may not be able to formulate exactly the question that he/she wants to ask of you; make them. Do not volunteer information that you do not have to volunteer. Make the attorney ask the question. If they can’t ask the question that’s too bad for them. That’s great for you; don’t let them off the hook.
I’ll give you an example of this. Sometimes an attorney will come into a deposition and really hasn’t adequately prepared to take the deposition. They’re busy, they’ve got other things to do, but they show up for the deposition and they haven’t done the preparation necessary. One of the things that really gives them away is when they’re asking witnesses about documents. Documents will get introduced as exhibits to depositions.
Frequently you’ll have a very lengthy document, maybe it’s a 50-page document. The attorney may mark is as an exhibit and say, “Witness I’d like you to reference what’s been marked here as Exhibit Number One to the deposition. This is a 50-page police report.” Sometimes I can tell as the attorney is asking the questions that the attorney hasn’t really even read that police report yet; this is his first time.
One of the things that gives the attorney away is I will see the attorney turn to the pages that he thinks are relevant and then he’ll start reading questions and he’ll say, “Okay, I’m looking at paragraph one on page five and it says, “Yada yada yada yada yada.” Did I read that accurately?” Then the witness says, “Yes.” Well that’s a waste of time. We can all read what the document says. The witness really is not doing anything by confirming that the attorney is able to read accurately, but it gives away the attorney.
It tells me the attorney hasn’t read this document and he doesn’t know how he’s going to ask questions about the document. Make the attorney struggle in that situation. You are going to see that there are many areas in the line of questioning where the attorney is not really prepared to ask an effective question. That’s too bad for him/her and it’s great for you. Make the attorney ask the right question.
Only answer the question that’s asked. In general, I tell clients, “Do not volunteer information.” Now that’s not a hardened first rule. Occasionally there are times where I think it is important for you to volunteer information. If it’s a part of your case that is absolutely critical and you need to get your side of the story out there, I will go through with my clients and make sure that they know how to answer or explain the important facts of their case and we will rehearse that beforehand. As a general rule, you need to make the attorney on the other side ask effective questions, and you only answer those questions that are asked.
That’s my number six tip for how to give an effective deposition.
In summary, don’t make it easy for the lawyer. The other lawyer in a deposition has a tough job. Don’t make it easy on them if they can’t ask the right question.
Please view my other videos on my top seven tips for giving an effective deposition. Click through on any of these options and you’ll find me going into greater detail and analysis: