25 Oct First Time Deponent
For attorneys, paralegals, and court reporters, depositions are a standard part of the discovery process for a new case but for a first-time deponent, it can be intimidating. If you’ve been called, we recommend these tips to ease the feelings of overwhelm.
Dress to impress even if you don’t want to be giving a deposition.
It only takes seven seconds for you to make a first impression. No matter how big or how small the case, how you present yourself matters.
Whether you’re a first time deponent or seasoned expert witness, we recommend leaving the t-shirt and jeans at home and opt for business attire. Business casual dress pants, collared shirt, sport coat, and polished shoes for men, and skirt or dress pants and blouse, or dress, and closed toed dress shoes for women. No bright colors, eccentric jewelry, headwear etc.
How you look and feel will impact how you deliver your testimony and more importantly the perception others develop of you. Remember, it only takes 2 minutes for men to make a judgement of you based on dress, looks etc. For women it is less than 30 seconds.
Remember that while you aren’t in a courtroom, you are under oath.
No matter how you’re dressed or how little you want to be giving a deposition, you are under oath. It is important to tell the truth as you know it. It’s also good if the attorney who has called you can interview you prior to the deposition date. It will help you prepare and be more comfortable on the actual day.
Remember to breathe and take your time answering questions.
You might not understand the question or know the answer.
You might feel pressure to answer questions you don’t fully understand or give answers to questions that weren’t asked. Take your time to listen and think about your answer before speaking.
- Telling the attorney that you do not recall the information is OK.
- Answer ONLY the question asked.
- Don’t expound unless asked to.
- Do not ramble.
- Don’t offer an opinion.
- Keep answer short and to the point.
- Do not keep glancing towards your attorney for guidance.
- Do NOT speculate or assume.
- Sometime the answer is either yes or no.
The attorney needs to ask the questions that they want the answers to.
“What time did the event in question take place?” is a better question.
If you aren’t sure or don’t know, “I don’t know,” is a perfectly acceptable response as long as it is the truth.
Asking for clarification is also acceptable.
Speak the truth and speak clearly.
Remember, the purpose of the deposition is to simply understand what you know about a particular event. While there are times when there isn’t opportunity to talk to a first-time deponent prior to deposition, we hope you understand a little more about what is expected.