Depositions 101: Techniques and Strategies

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Tactics and Strategies for Depositions

Is your lack of deposition experience causing your blood pressure to rise? If so — you are not alone. The thought of testifying under oath at a deposition — or questioning a party or witness at a deposition — can cause significant unease and nervousness for all people involved.

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There is no need to panic. There are techniques and strategies you can employ to put your mind at ease, empower you to obtain the evidence you need, and help you avoid deposition mistakes that could damage your case.

Whether you are:

  • A party representing yourself in a civil lawsuit (“pro se” or “pro per”); or
  • An attorney seeking practical insights into effective methods for questioning a deponent

We can equip you to:

  • Grasp the ins and outs of depositions so you can gather the necessary facts to support your claims or defenses;
  • Face the barrage of questions from the opposing attorney with calm and poise; and
  • Handle all aspects of the deposition (examination, testimony, and preparation) professionally and confidently — regardless of your level of experience.

In Depositions 101: Techniques and Strategies, litigation attorneys Neer Lerner and Elliott Malone provide you with tips and strategies for conquering your fears and artfully navigating the deposition process.

Below is a sample of what you will get in this powerful three-part video series.

The Importance and Value of Depositions

When conducted properly, depositions provide a very powerful opportunity to elicit testimony and discover further evidence that can support your case or discredit your opponent’s. Plus, you can obtain information regarding your opponent's strategy, evaluate the credibility of your opponent and witnesses, and work to discredit your opponent's claims and defenses.

You will develop foundational knowledge about the deposition process, including:

  • Key terms and definitions pertaining to depositions — explained in lay terms so that you can wade through the impenetrable fog of "Legalese";
  • The advantages and disadvantages of depositions over written discovery;
  • Ways to uncover hidden (or undiscovered) evidence that could help your case; and
  • Common legal documents used for depositions (with PDF samples), and more.

You will learn how to protect yourself from opposing attorneys at your own deposition. Litigation attorney Elliot Malone walks you through the process he uses when he prepares his clients for a deposition.

He'll share:

  • Strategies to overcome nervousness so you can answer the most challenging questions with honesty and confidence;
  • The dirty tricks lawyers use to trip you up, put words in your mouth, and confuse you into giving an answer that can hurt your case — (and ways to handle them);
  • The seven things you should avoid at a deposition if you want to preserve your credibility;
  • Plenty of tips to properly prepare you to answer questions at a deposition — including ways to keep the record clear, when to be extra careful, and so much more.

Answering Opposing Attorneys’ Questions Under Oath

You will observe professional actors simulate a deposition in a fictitious lawsuit: Patterson v. Don's Moving Company. Mr. Patterson, the plaintiff who represents himself, faces a barrage of questions in an intense examination rife with sneaky tactics from the attorney for Don's Moving Company.

Litigation attorney Neer Lerner talks you through the deposition, providing critical commentary and analysis on the exchange.

He will:

  • Identify which responses from the deponent are proper and which could use improvement — so you can avoid or minimize errors;
  • Explain which questions and examination topics may be legally flawed or improper — and why;
  • Describe general procedures for objecting to a question;
  • Provide tips to help you remain composed when facing difficult or invasive questions;
  • Show examples of an opposing attorney putting words in the witness’s mouth in an attempt to mischaracterize his testimony — and how he handles it; and
  • Share additional commentary and tips that can help protect yourself and avoid embarrassing mistakes that could hurt your case.

Preparing to Question a Witness at Deposition

Anyone can ask questions, but it takes a thoughtful strategy to ask the appropriate questions — and in the correct order — if you want to get the information you need to prevail in your case.

You'll learn the necessary steps to prepare for deposing a witness or party.

For example:

  • Steps to locate and identify key witnesses;
  • What vital research to conduct prior to the deposition;
  • How to request documents to support your case; and
  • Other elements that are essential to your success.

You will learn techniques and strategies for questioning a witness or party in a lawsuit to help you conduct a productive deposition, including:

  • What background questions to ask before delving into the main facts of the case;
  • How to make the deponent feel comfortable — and how it will help your case;
  • Ways to get the deponent to open up and reveal information that can bolster your case;
  • Techniques to help a witness recall and testify as to critical facts they may have forgotten; and
  • Other methods to help you discover facts and evidence that can help you prevail in your lawsuit.

Simulation: Patterson Questions Opposing Party

You will receive helpful commentary as you watch the dramatization of Mr. Patterson questioning a defendant in the fictitious case.

You will glean essential insights into how to conduct (“take”) a deposition when representing yourself in a lawsuit, including:

  • Ways to handle objections, rephrase questions, and prevent opposing counsel from bullying you into dropping your line of questioning or backing down;
  • How to get the deponent to authenticate and explain documents to help substantiate your claims or defenses;
  • Important rules and conduct for depositions — and how to explain them to the deponent; and
  • Additional tips you can use in your deposition to avoid mistakes and discover pertinent facts to use as evidence at

Simulation: Mr. Patterson Questions a Key Witness

In this final simulation, you will watch Mr. Patterson examine a key witness in the case, and will learn:

  • Ways to handle objections from opposing attorneys;
  • What questions to ask to establish — or discredit — the credibility of a witness;
  • How to handle ambiguous or unclear testimony from the witness and get them to clarify; and
  • Other means and methods to discover facts, lock-in and preserve testimony, and pin down the witness’ testimony so you can build a stronger case or defense.

This three-part video course contains crucial techniques that can embolden you to navigate the discovery process with competence and confidence.

You will learn to handle and use depositions to uncover useful evidence and help you avoid damaging errors and missed opportunities. Study Depositions 101: Techniques and Strategies — and you can establish a rock solid foundation for your case.

For more information on the discovery process, be sure to view Written Discovery: Investigating and Proving Claims and Defenses, and Introduction to Evidence Law.