You just received a subpoena calling you to testify at a deposition. Pretty scary, right? Nope - not if you keep in mind these do’s and don’ts.
DO TAKE YOUR TIME
Wait a few seconds before you answer a question. Taking a few seconds before you answer accomplishes two things. First, it gives you time to think before you answer. Second, it gives your attorney time to object to the question. If you answer the question without waiting, you may end up answering a question that your attorney would have objected to had you given her the time to do so. In addition, if your attorney objects to the question, wait until she tells you it's okay to answer before actually answering.
DON'T SPEAK TOO FAST
Speak slowly and be patient. There is no need to fill the silence between questions. Take your time. Be patient!
DO BE HELPFUL BUT DON'T OVERDO IT
Certainly, you should be cooperative or at least appear to be cooperative. However, listen very carefully and make sure you only answer the question actually being asked. Don't volunteer any additional information or elaborate on your answer. Short and sweet is the "name of the game" during a deposition. Any more than that and you're likely to get yourself in a ton of trouble. We lawyers just love it when a witness likes to talk a lot or show us how smart they are!
DON'T LIE OR EXAGGERATE
Don't lie and don't exaggerate. Just answer the question truthfully and to the best of your ability.
DO MAKE SURE YOU UNDERSTAND THE QUESTION
If you don't understand the question, ask the lawyer to repeat the question or rephrase it. If you answer a question you don't understand, the other lawyer is likely to use it to her advantage.
DON'T GUESS OR MAKE THINGS UP
Don't guess. If you don't know the answer, if you're not sure or if you can't remember, just say so. There's nothing wrong with saying "I don't know" or "I can't recall." If you don't remember, you don't remember. Period!
DO KEEP YOUR COOL
Try to control your emotions. Stay calm and try to avoid getting angry or impatient. Lawyers are permitted to ask questions that you may feel are intrusive or irrelevant. The lawyer may actually be trying to "get a rise out of you" so that you lose your cool. Remember, your attorney is there to help you through the deposition and it's her job, not yours, to object to any improper questions and protect your interests.
DON'T BRING ANY DOCUMENTS WITH YOU - TRAVEL LIGHT
Do not bring any documents to the deposition unless your attorney tells you to.
DO TAKE A TIME OUT IF YOU NEED IT
If you need to take a break, just ask. As long as there is no pending question you can take as many breaks as you need to. A deposition is not supposed to end up being a marathon. If you don't take any breaks, you will get tired and you will make mistakes and/or give the wrong answers. Remember, the attorney questioning you is probably hoping to "wear you down." Don't play into her hands by letting yourself get so tired you can't concentrate and you start making mistakes.
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