Although depositions may not be all that glamorous or exciting, they are the centerpiece of discovery in civil litigation and have the potential to make or break your case. In fact, pretrial testimony is often the determinative factor in the settlement value of a case and, likewise, a party’s willingness to settle. Knowing the high stakes involved in taking a successful deposition and in effectively defending a deposition, countless young attorneys have sat down to take their first deposition with roughly the same amount of dread (a lot) and the same amount of practice (none whatsoever).
“Taking a deposition is easy,” a wizened trial lawyer once told me. “Just ask a lot of questions.” In a loose sense, he was right. However, there are some things that seem obvious to a veteran lawyer that the novice lawyer does not necessarily appreciate. Furthermore, there are techniques that veteran lawyers have developed through years of practice that make their deposition procedures feel like second nature. This article seeks to dispel some of the common misconceptions about depositions that plague attorneys at all levels, and also shed light on the deposition process for younger attorneys who are just getting their footing.