Long before your client sits down near a court reporter, he or she needs to know exactly what to expect from a typical deposition held in San Jose. Asking and answering tough questions may be as natural to you as breathing, but for your client, it may be intimidating. Arguably, one of the most important benefits of thorough preparation is that it gives your client the confidence needed to effectively handle this stressful situation.
Explain the Process of Deposition
You should assume that your client is completely unfamiliar with the concept of legal depositions. Go over the basic facts, including the following:
- It does not take place in a courtroom.
- A court reporter will take down everything said on the record, verbatim.
- Testimony is given under oath.
- Giving testimony that contradicts later testimony at trial could be perjury.
Instruct your client to only give verbal answers—court reporters can’t record gestures. If your client doesn’t know something, he or she shouldn’t try to guess. Emphasize the importance of only giving as much information as was asked for. One-word answers are encouraged if they answer the question.
Review Documents and Facts
Although your client can answer “I don’t know,” if that’s the truth, it’s better if he or she knows the details of the facts of the case. Spend plenty of time going over any relevant documents and records. Being fully informed will help your client to confidently answer questions.
Help Your Client Anticipate Questions From Opposing Counsel
It’s impossible to think of every single question opposing counsel will ask, but you probably have a fairly good idea of the direction of the questioning. Write down a list of every question you can think of, and put the toughest ones at the top. Go over these questions exhaustively until your client feels comfortable with them.
Give Some Last-Minute Tips
You don’t want to overwhelm your client with information, but you may wish to remind him or her of some crucial tips just before the deposition. Remind your client to actively listen to every question, and not to answer the question before opposing counsel is done asking it. Let your client know that it’s okay to briefly pause—this gives you a chance to object if need be.