A Guide on Defending Depositions

January 9, 2016

Believe it or not my most popular blog post isΒ “How to Defend a Deposition.” It wasn’t meant to be a comprehensive guide onΒ defending depositions, but mostly commentary. People looking for how to defend a deposition seem to find it, but it doesn’t contain a lot of practical or substantive information.

Over the last few years,Β I’ve developed a set of talking points and a checklist that I go over with my witness prior to being deposed. What I do is print out two copies, review it with the client, and then make them re-read it at home so they don’t forget what we’ve talked about.

It’s not a substitute for asking your client about the specific facts of the case and your abilityΒ to polish the testimony. However, it will give a client the basics. (For a more in-depth read on depositions, I recommend D. Shane Read’s “Winning At Deposition.”)

Without further ado – here ya go. How to Defend a Deposition.

Don’t say I never did anything nice for you.

Oh, and this is how not to defend a deposition…


How to Defend a Deposition – Don’t Just Show Up and Play Lawyer

April 16, 2013
Uh oh. The other side is wearing a suit and saying "objection." They must be for real.

Uh oh. The other side is wearing a suit and saying “objection” a lot. They must be for real.

[Editor’s Note: If you’re looking for my guide on defending depositions, it’s here.]

Yesterday Chris Bradley wrote a piece about how to defend a deposition. Advice? Just show up. Maybe wear a suit. And if you feel like it make an objection, but do it in a really lawyerly way. The other side will respect the fact that you’re there and put on a suit, and won’t take advantage of your witness.

Easy, right?

Errr… not so fast…

When it comes to clients, it takes more than just showing up and wearing a suit. What bothered me about this particular article is Chris decided to fake it with real clients. See, Sybil Dunlop wrote a piece last week about her “motion in lemonade“, which was funny. Why was it funny? Because it’s okay to mess up or puff yourself up before a lawyer who is supervising you. You’ll look dumb, but it won’t hurt anything except your ego.

However, that logic does not apply when you’re the attorney in charge. It is not okay to be a pretend lawyer with it comes to Β clients.

You are either competent to handle an issue or you’re not. In Chris’s case, he may not have been competent to handle the issue but went ahead and decided to go ahead and fake it anyway, thinking that “showing up” was enough to do his client right.

That can get you into trouble. BecauseΒ you know what’s worse than making a big mistake in a deposition? Making that mistake because your lawyer didn’t give you good advice. That can get both you, and your client, into serious trouble.

Showing up is never enough, especially when it comes to defending depositions.

So, let’s take a look at why this is awful, awful advice to a young lawyer. Because depositions are very, very important.

Read the rest of this entry »