Depositions are often the most important day in the life of any lawsuit. Cases do not go to trial as often as they used to. Mediations, arbitrations and mandatory settlement conferences now result in the overwhelming majority of personal injury cases settling before trial. Therefore, the deposition is often the only opportunity an injured person has to tell their story. In my opinion, depositions are more important now than they were back in the days when cases routinely went to trial. I am constantly amazed to see defense lawyers showing up at depositions with key witnesses who they clearly just met for the first time that day, and who are completely unprepared to answer detailed questions about my case. These witnesses often meet their lawyer for the first time an hour before the deposition. This usually results in a deposition that is bad for the defendant and good for my client.
Proper deposition preparation is essential. An hour before the deposition is not the time to be talking through the case with your lawyer for the first time. What we usually do is meet several times with our client prior to the day of the deposition. Discussing the case informally – literally sitting around talking about the case – is the absolute best way to prepare for a deposition. This process usually starts weeks or even months before the deposition in serious cases. By the day of the deposition, the preparation process should be over, not beginning.