Deposition Preparation Tips: Is Your Client Ready?

In the life of a litigation attorney, depositions are a common occurrence. Because of this, it’s easy to forget that for many clients the deposition process can be a stressful and overwhelming experience. That negative energy can impact their performance during a depo, and that’s not good for anyone. To help prevent this, we’re sharing our best depo prep tips. This handy little tool will help you get your clients ready for their day of discovery. Below are a few examples of our best-practice advice:  

1. Find out if your client has given a deposition before.
Every client is different; some have been through lots of depositions while others have never stepped foot into any type of legal situation. That’s why it’s a good idea to start by asking them what their experience with depositions has been in the past. This helps you gauge what type of information you should review with them.

For those clients who say they are quite familiar with depositions, ask them detailed questions about their past experiences. Just because they’ve been through it before doesn’t mean they were properly trained on how to look their best as they answer questions. Nonverbal communication is also extremely important.

2. Explain the landscape of a deposition.
Now that you know their level of experience, it’s important to run through the deposition process so your client can get an idea of what to expect. It helps to explain the layout of the room, who will be speaking and the roles of everyone in the room, including the court reporter and possibly a videographer. As you do this, here are a few tips to mention to your client:

    • Before you respond, wait for the attorney to ask the entire question.
      Oftentimes clients will jump the gun on a question and provide unnecessary information. Along with this, when you talk over others or mumble, it can be difficult for your court reporter to take down what was said.
    • Don’t be argumentative.
      To keep it simple:  Your client will not come across in the best light if they come in with an attitude. If their tone seems to be an issue prior to the deposition, spend some time addressing this and altering their disposition.
  • Turn down the volume.
    One of the most unfortunate mistakes deponents make during their deposition is they forget they are being recorded!

    All depositions should have a certified shorthand reporter in the room, which means your client needs to be aware that what they say is being recorded. When a deposition is being videotaped, your client will be wearing a microphone, so be sure to remind them not to discuss attorney/client-privileged information with you.  These microphones are extremely sensitive. Even a whisper can be picked up on the microphone, and the court reporter needs to report everything she hears.

3. Book a preparation meeting.
While most legal teams conduct prep meetings, success is in the details. Be sure to give yourself enough time to orchestrate the preparation meeting. We recommend at least two hours of uninterrupted time with your client to go through everything.

4. Ask your client everything under the sun.
Even though you can’t be completely certain about what questions your client will be asked during the deposition, it’s best to brainstorm any and all questions that could be asked so that your client feels prepared to answer those hard-hitting questions.

If possible, record parts of the run-through, watch it back with your client and provide quality feedback to improve the way their answers come across.

5. Show a little love.
As mentioned before, attorneys go through depositions all the time, but for their clients, not so much. It’s important to keep in mind that your clients may be nervous and check in to see if they need anything on the day of their deposition. Prior to the deposition, consider asking them what their favorite drink or snack is and bring it with you on the day of their deposition to make them feel at ease.

Going through this checklist with your clients will help them feel ready and prepared to conquer their deposition. If you’re looking to provide your client with the very best services, be sure to have the very best court reporter in the room. At Elite Court Reporting, we offer just that. Our reporters have an average of 15 years of experience and provide quality, accurate transcripts for legal teams nationwide. Click here to schedule a court reporter today.

Posted in Depositions, Tips.