For new attorneys, your first deposition can be as nerve-racking as it is exciting. Before you even begin, hire an experienced court reporter and make arrangements for any additional services you will need, such as interpreting services or video deposition services in San Jose. As you get ready for your first deposition, here are the things you need to know to make it a success.
Know What You Want to Get Out of the Deposition
One of the first things to consider when you’re preparing for a deposition is if you think the case will be settled out of court or if you will end up going to trial. If you believe that a trial is the likely outcome, then you may wish to hold back some of your strongest questioning and evidence so that you can rely on it to surprise the witness in court. If you think that settling is more likely, you may want to use all of the evidence and your toughest questions during the deposition.
Once you decide where you think the case is heading, determine two or three points you wish to get from the witness’ testimony. This will help you choose the questions you want to ask and what evidence you may wish to present during the deposition.
Phrase Your Questions Carefully
Before you begin to write your questions, decide if you plan to approach the witness as though you are conducting a direct examination in court or like a cross examination, which is likely to be more adversarial. Generally, if the deposition witness will be available to testify at trial, then you may wish to make your questions open-ended, like a direct examination, to simply get his or her story that you can use with more aggressive questioning in court. If the witness will not be at trial and the deposition will be played via video, treat it more like a cross-examination.
Remember Your Court Reporter
During all questioning, be sure to speak clearly so that the court reporter can accurately record the interactions. Be sure you understand when your court reporter can deliver your transcripts to you. Don’t forget to give everyone, including your court reporter, breaks during the deposition process.
Organization may seem like an essential part of any legal business, but if you find yourself constantly forgetting to log hours or trying to schedule your court reporter in San Jose at the last minute, then you could be a disorganized lawyer. If you think that title could apply to you, here are some of the strategies you can use to get your organization under control.
Do Small Tasks in Real Time
Sometimes, tasks seem so small, like jotting down a record of the time you spent on the phone with a client, that putting them off until later doesn’t seem like a big deal. The problem is that later never comes because you forget or because your list of postponed tasks seems so long and daunting that you don’t know where to begin. When small tasks pop up, such as noting billable hours, reserving a deposition space, or finding interpreting services, do it right then instead of procrastinating. You’ll feel less overwhelmed and have fewer things to keep organized.
Take Control of Your Email
Email has morphed from a convenient way to communicate to a major distraction for many people. To prevent your commitment to getting organized from getting eaten up by your inbox, set a schedule for managing your emails. Check your emails only at specific times each day, and turn off the ping on your smart devices so you won’t be alerted when new messages come in. Let clients and coworkers know that they should call you in urgent situations, and that for everyday requests, you will get back to them during your usual email time. Although it may seem counterintuitive, this will make your email communications more efficient.
Let technology help you achieve your organizational goals. Say goodbye to stacks of papers and opt for digital court reporting and video depositions. Use digital transcripts, digitize evidence and exhibits, and experiment with online scheduling software instead of using paper calendars. These tools will keep papers off your desk and information at your fingertips.
When you’re renting conference room space, considering how the room is set up can be as important as hiring your court reporter or setting up any necessary interpreting services. Before your deposition in San Jose, look out for the factors mentioned in this video when selecting your conference room.
Start by evaluating the general setup of the room. Is there room for the court reporter to sit in a location where it will be easy to hear everyone clearly? If you’ll be conducting a video deposition, can the video equipment be set up in a location where audio and visual will be clear and crisp? You should also consider the table shape, available seating, technology, and lighting in every conference room you consider renting.
During a deposition , presenting a defense is as important as it is during a trial. Keep in mind that everything your client says will be recorded by the court reporter and will be part of the legal transcription of the proceeding. These tips will help you defend your client in San Jose before his or her deposition.
Preparation is critical.
The most important part of defending your client during a deposition happens before the questions even begin. Proper preparation is critical to an effective defense. Sometimes, because depositions happen outside of the courtroom, clients are even more likely to inadvertently volunteer information or become argumentative than they are during a trial, when things feel more formal. It is also essential that you counsel your client to be truthful during the deposition. Again, because depositions happen outside of the courtroom, clients sometimes incorrectly believe that they are under less of an obligation to be truthful than they would be on the witness stand. Remind your client that the court reporter will be transcribing everything that he or she says, and any misinformation provided during deposition can come back to haunt him or her if the case goes to trial.
You’ll need to be an advocate.
Although your ability to file objections will be more limited than during a trial, your client will still need you to act as an advocate. Even if you don’t ultimately have to speak up during the deposition, you should be there to intervene on your client’s behalf if necessary. Your client may be hesitant to follow your preparation instructions if the other attorney is goading him or her, so be a present and vocal advocate for your client who is ready to object or call for breaks as needed.
Learn the rules of the deposition jurisdiction.
Each jurisdiction has its own rules for deposition, so be sure you have done your homework in advance so you understand how objections are handled and your obligations to continue with a case after a deposition. Reviewing these rules is especially important for a video deposition in which the case is being adjudicated in another location.
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