Just like with anything else, if you are asked to give a deposition for the first time, the uncertainty of this experience can be frightening. As the deposition date looms closer and closer, you might be experiencing anxiety about it. You might be wondering what happens if you are asked a question that you forget the answer to? What if you are asked a question that you don’t know the answer to? Will a lawyer grill you for information?
The truth of the matter is that depositions are not nearly as scary as you might think. While depositions can be awkward and there might be some difficult questions for you to answer, if you have a good lawyer preparing you for the deposition, you will be fine. On this page, I’d like to discuss some tips that you can follow in order to ensure that your deposition goes as smoothly as possible. Hopefully, these tips will help you feel confident in your deposition!
Make a Good Impression
I know, I know, if I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a million times. But there’s a reason why I’m repeating myself here! It is important for you to make a good impression on the lawyer asking you questions. The lawyer will not only be interested in what you say during a deposition, but how you act. Are you likable? Kind? Sympathetic? Do you seem serious about your case, responsible, and prepared for your deposition?
The other party’s lawyer will consider all of these things during the deposition to determine before you even get to the courtroom what a trial might be like. For this reason, you should treat the deposition like a rehearsal for your trial. Be prepared, be clear, and be interested in the questions that you are being asked.
Obviously, you are under oath, so it is important that you answer all questions posed to you honestly. However, you don’t have to go on long tangents in order to explain yourself, and you shouldn’t. The more information you give, the more likely you will be incriminating yourself in some way. If possible, give brief, “yes” or “no” answers. If asked by the lawyer to expand, you should do so.
Keep it Professional
This goes back to making a good impression. You don’t want to become emotional during the deposition or get into a screaming match with the other lawyer. Sometimes, you will be asked questions that are uncomfortable for you to answer. Sometimes, you might feel like the lawyer questioning you is picking on you. But you should always keep your cool. Remember that there will be a transcript of everything you say, so swearing or threatening the prosecutor is a terrible idea. Remain professional and calm when answering questions.
Remember the Transcript
Remember that everything you say is being recorded. This means that you’re not having a normal dialogue with the lawyer questioning you. Even if you think that you know the question a lawyer is going to ask, never interrupt the lawyer with your answer. A person reading the transcript might not know what is going on and will need clear questions and answers to follow.
Also remember that someone is trying to keep up with every word that you and the lawyer say. If possible, take a second to pause before answering a question to give the court reporter time to catch up. Also remember that when someone reads a transcript, they will not have the luxury of reading your facial expressions or body language cues to know if you are being sarcastic or if you are joking. For this reason, you shouldn’t try to make jokes or make drastic statements, as they don’t come across well in the transcript.
It’s Ok to Say, “I Don’t Know”
If you are unsure about an answer you are giving, it is ok to qualify your answer. You can say something like, “I’m guessing” or, “I’m making an estimation” instead of giving a definite answer. Likewise, you can qualify your answers by giving a statement but then saying something like, “that’s all I can remember right now” or, “I’m not sure but I think…” If you do this, you can add to or change your answers later on without giving the impression that you’re being deceptive.
If you follow these tips, you’ll be sure to rock your deposition.