Deposition Guidelines

What do you do prior to a deposition? Among the most important to-dos is to be prepared and to prepare your witness. Even if they are an expert, they need your guidance and strategy for the case for which they are testifying. You also want to work with your legal team, including court reporter, to be sure you’re all on the same page in terms of expectations. Lastly, be mindful of what a first-time deponent may need to know to be comfortable giving a deposition. As seasoned court reporters, we offer these deposition guidelines.

Prepare the Witness 

Do you remember your first trial or deposition? Our Chicago court reporters remember theirs and your witness will too so make sure they’re adequately prepared for what is going to happen.

Begin by explaining the purpose of a deposition is to get their version of events on the record. While it may not be used at trial, it well could be so they want to be sure they accurately capture your testimony. Opposing counsel wants to depose so there aren’t any surprises at trial or perhaps they choose to settle a case before a court date is set.

Rules of a Deposition 

First-time deponents are often overwhelmed. We recommend providing simple rules of a deposition:

  1. Listen to what is being asked.
  2. Clarify if you’re not sure.
  3. Think before answering.
  4. Be concise.

This will help the witness stay on task and keep the proceeding moving forward efficiently.

Once they understand the basics, run the witness through a mock deposition to experience the process. This will help them be at ease in the actual proceeding. If it is a video deposition, it will help them be more natural on camera and likely to appeal to a jury.

Set Expectations 

You might be the lead attorney but you’re also part of a team. Whether it’s the witness preparation or making sure your legal team, including court reporter, understand the length of the deposition (hours or days) and the timeline to get you the final transcript, you’ve got to set expectations and communicate to your team.

Without your legal team working together, you risk not delivering the best service to your client. Our court reporters need to know the deposition schedule and any changes to date, time, and location as soon as you know them. We don’t want to be at the wrong place at the wrong time.

The key to success? Preparation and communication whether you’re deposing an expert witness or first-time deponent. Remember these deposition guidelines and contact us the next time you need a Chicago court reporter.