Depositions are legally binding, meaning all witnesses must provide information about a particular case. Moreover, attorneys from both sides need to know what all witnesses will say during court proceedings in order to prepare their defense accordingly.
It is therefore important to prepare your client for deposition way in advance. This will help them know what to expect, and avoid feeling intimidated by the opposing counsel.
Here are six points you need to know about preparing a first-time deponent for depositions:
What is a deposition?
A deposition is simply a testimony provided by a witness out of court in a civil lawsuit. The witness or deponent will have to answer various questions directed to them by an attorney. The interrogating lawyers use these question and answer sessions to gather as much information as they can from the witness to help them prepare for their cases.
Depositions are normally used to establish what a witness knows about a particular case. The information obtained can also be used during the trial to ask the witness why their statement conflicts with what was said during the deposition. Letting your client know about depositions in advance can help make them comfortable and confident about the entire process.
What should your client wear during a deposition?
A deposition is similar to a job interview. This means your client should wear decent clothes and avoid anything casual. Ideally, the deponent should dress conservatively by wearing long pants and dress shoes for men or a blouse and long slacks for women. Ask your client to avoid wearing jeans, shorts, sneakers, and sandals during depositions. The main goal here is to look neat and professional while remaining as comfortable as possible.
What should the deponent bring during a deposition?
Your client should not bring anything to the deposition as these items might be used by the opposing counsel as exhibits. For instance, if you provide your client with various documents to review, make sure they don’t bring them to the deposition. The opposing attorney might mark whatever document your client brings as an exhibit.
Even a phone can carry vital information that can be used against your client. The attorney may ask to check your client’s phone for emails, WhatsApp messages, and text messages. With this in mind, it is always a good idea to ask your client not to bring anything other than car keys or eyeglasses.
What time should the client arrive?
Your client should arrive 15-20 minutes before the deposition session starts. This will give you and your client adequate time to prepare and go over any last-minute items. The client will also be able to use the restroom or drink some water if they need to. Moreover, you can plan with the deponent how you will walk into the deposition room together. This will give the client confidence, and he or she will not feel out of place.
Describe what the deposition room will look like
The earlier your client arrives the better. This will give you a chance to describe to them how the conference room looks like. You will also show them where to sit during the deposition. If the session is going to be videotaped, you need to tell the client that they will sit facing a camera and that the client will be the only one in the frame. Also, tell the deponent where the opposing counsel, the videographer, and the court reporter will sit so that the client can picture the scene in advance.
What should the deponent expect?
You need to explain to your client that everything they say during the deposition is on the record. The videographer will start recording and the court reporter will start typing once the deposition begins. The client is required to raise his or her hand to take an oath confirming that they are saying the truth. After the oath, the opposing counsel will start asking questions. Let your client know when he or she should expect to begin answering the questions.