Often times I find that clients are unnecessarily apprehensive or nervous about their depositions. I like to tell clients that the first step in overcoming this apprehension is to develop a clear understanding of what a deposition actually is. A deposition represents opposing counsel’s first, and many times only, opportunity to ask you questions about your case. As a general rule, the questioning attorney is not out to trick you or bait you into saying something that will damage your case. They are simply attempting to gather as much information as possible so that they can accurately evaluate your claim. Here are 10 quick tips that I like to give my client’s prior to their depositions.

  1. Take Your Time – Wait 5 seconds before answering each question; control the pace.
  2. Always Remember You Are Making a Record – If you realize you made a mistake, don’t be afraid to correct it at any point during the deposition.
  3. Tell the Truth – You have nothing to hide from; clients who lie because they think it will help their case generally end up doing exactly the opposite.
  4. Be Relentlessly Polite – Thinking, saying or implying negative things will only make things worse.
  5. Don’t Answer a Question You Don’t Understand – Just say “Would you please rephrase the question.” Don’t answer until question is phrased in a way that you understand.
  6. “I Don’t Remember” and “I Don’t Know” Are Acceptable Answers. Don’t be embarrassed to use them.
  7. Do Not Guess – If you are estimating, be clear about the fact that you are doing so. Don’t use inferences- testify only about what you precisely saw, heard, or did.
  8. Do Not Volunteer Information – Keep answers as short, simple, and narrow as possible, and then stop.
  9. Be Careful with Documents and Prior Statements – If the questioning attorney is asking you about a document, ask to see it and read it carefully before answering.
  10. Use Your Attorney if Necessary – Don’t think that it will look bad if you request a break to speak to your attorney.