Tips for Effective Depositions

Depositions are a method of obtaining information during the discovery phase of a case. Pretrial depositions are a core, yet time-consuming part of any litigation. In a complex lawsuit, each party may take upwards of 10-25 depositions, and the process may last for months – even years. Despite the time and effort, depositions can often produce some of the most important evidence. However, there is often a mentality among lawyers that pretrial depositions are only minimally useful. Experienced attorneys may spend an entire deposition just walking through documents with a witness or asking off-the-cuff questions, without strategizing about how the deposition could assist in the overall success of the lawsuit. Meanwhile, younger attorneys are often assigned to take a deposition with little or no training, and rarely have a good plan in place for what they should try to get out of the process. The deposition will often end without the deposing attorney obtaining a single bit of useful testimony. With preparation and planning an effective deposition can be one of the most powerful tools in the lawsuit. A good deposing attorney can draw out inconsistencies in a witness’s testimony, get useful sound bites for trial, and even get “smoking gun” admissions. Armed with this information, a party can often file a dispositive motion on the basis of the damaging testimony, force a settlement, or at the very least lock a witness into damaging testimony at trial. Below, therefore, are 3 tips for getting more effective depositions.

A. Prepare for depositions. Understand your case and how it will impact on the ultimate issues. Know what sort of facts you are trying to obtain and then go after it during the deposition.

B. Have a theme. Long before the closing argument in trial you need a theme of your case that will allow for you to develop questions and strategy at deposition.

C. Work together. It’s important to work with your attorney in preparing for a deposition. Whether your deposition is being taken or you are preparing to depose the other side, sit with your attorney and work together to strategize. You’ve been living the reality of the case so your input is very valuable.

These tips among others can make the difference between effective depositions or time wasters. Use the litigation process to prepare for victory in your case. For more information on how depositions can impact on your family law case contact our family law experts at or call us at 505-880-8737.