Preparing for Depositions and Business Litigation Success
Our MLG Business Litigation Group attorneys in Florida and California explain each detail of our client’s cases to everyone involved, so they understand each relevant factor of the legal process. In some cases, that includes the fact that our clients will need to be deposed by opposing counsel before the case moves forward.
A deposition is a question‐and‐answer session that includes both sides attorneys and their clients — who are questioned in separate sessions. Each client, or witness, will give their answers to the opposing counsel’s questions under oath, in front of a court reporter, who will record the entire session. The outcome will be used by the attorneys to prepare for trial.
While the deposition process may seem informal, as it typically takes place in a law office, it is extremely important because what you say can be used against you.
To fully prepare, our clients must understand why the other side wants to take their deposition.
Here is what you need to know before the sessions take place.
Why Does the Opposing Business Litigation Counsel Want to Depose Me?
If you are involved in a business dispute, and the opposing party’s counsel wants to depose you, it is to discover what you know about the case. In short, they are looking for evidence to support their client’s argument.
Therefore, it is important to have a business litigation attorney by your side during a deposition, as the opposing counsel will attempt to get you to make statements against your best interests.
Everything you say during a deposition is recorded under oath. This means the opposing counsel can use anything you say against you inside the courtroom to discredit your testimony.
Another reason for a deposition is so the opposing counsel can see you. They want to know what you look like and how you sound, so they know how your story will play to a jury — and whether you may make a favorable or unfavorable impression.
Before you enter a deposition, it is important to understand how to answer questions and conduct yourself during the interview. Working with a skilled business litigation attorney in California or Florida will best prepare you for what is to come, but here are a few tips to get started.
Tips to Prepare for a Successful Deposition
While depositions are legal interviews, they are also led by the opposing counsel. That means they are going to do everything they can to guide your answers in their favor. This can be accomplished by asking leading questions, or repetitive statements that make it appear as though you are answering in error or untruthfully. This is the point. They want to rattle you, so their side of the story appears strongest.
To avoid falling into their trap:
- Be Prepared.
Our MLG Business Litigation Group attorneys will review the facts of your case with you, so your memory is fresh, and ready to answer all questions by focusing on the strong points of your case.
- Tell the Truth.
You must, under oath, tell the truth during a legal deposition. Being untruthful is far more harmful to your case. Your attorney will guide you through any perceived weaknesses in your case, so you can address them truthfully with the least harm, when they are asked.
- Think Before Answering.
Before you answer any question, you will want to fully understand it first. Depositions are not the time to mistakenly give away information that is not pertinent to the question at hand. Pausing before answering may also allow your attorneys to object to the question, if legally applicable, so you do not have to answer until it is rephrased — or at all.
If your attorney objects, remain silent until the next question is asked. Do not attempt to override their experience by saying, “I’ll answer.” Always follow your attorney’s lead.
- Do Not Answer a Question You Do Not Understand.
If you do not fully understand the question, do not answer it. Ask for clarification. You have the right to understand the question before you answer. Offering an answer to a question you do not understand can harm your case.
- Do Not Volunteer Information.
Never give testimony to a question or scenario that was not directly asked by the opposing counsel. Your duty is to tell the truth and give a brief answer to only the question that has been asked. In some cases, that may mean simply saying, “Yes” or “No.”
- Do Not Guess / Misremember the Scenario.
If you do not know the answer to a question, say so. If you do not remember a particular fact, say so. Only answer questions with certainty. “I don’t know” and “I do not remember” are perfectly good answers, when either is true.
- Be Ready to Hear the Same Question Asked in Different Ways.
Attorneys will ask witnesses the same question in multiple ways, hoping their answer changes. Stick to your original answer. If it becomes repetitive, your attorney will alert opposing counsel that the question has been asked and answered. Until then, do not attempt to answer it differently, simply because it is being asked differently.
- Do Not Get Emotional.
Getting upset or argumentative about the line of questioning is only going to harm your case. If the questioning becomes uncomfortable, remain professional and maintain your composure, so you appear unflappable under stress.
- Do Not Comment on Documents / Pictures / Other Evidence You Have Never Seen.
Attorneys will often bring a document or another form of evidence to the forefront, and ask what you think of it, to see your reaction. If you have not reviewed the document, pictures, or any other evidence before, you cannot — and definitely should not — comment on it.
Call MLG Business Litigation Law Firm in Florida & California Before Your Deposition
If you have been scheduled to answer questions during a deposition, you do not have to face the opposing counsel alone. Contact our MLG Business Litigation Group attorneys in Florida and California today at (786) 706-9228 to schedule a free initial consultation to discuss your business dispute. We can help ensure you are prepared, and that your rights are protected throughout the legal process.