Whenever I tell a client that they will have to sit for a deposition, I get the same two questions each time. “What are they going to ask me?” and “What do I do?”. Unfortunately, I can’t answer the first question exactly because every attorney has their own style. They may ask you every possible question they can think of going all the way back to your childhood, or they may hyper focus on a very specific issue in the case. Either way I can’t really say. But what I can do is help you prepare to have your deposition taken. This week we are going to look at the things you should do when you are being deposed, and next week we’ll discuss what you should not.
The absolute first thing I tell my clients when they ask what do to in a deposition is to tell the truth. Your deposition is taken under oath just as if you were testifying in court. The only difference is there is no judge present. Everything you say will be put into the record. If you lie in your deposition and it comes out that you lied in court, you’re going to be looking at perjury.
Next, if you don’t understand the question, DO ask the attorney to rephrase or repeat it. You don’t want to inadvertently answer a question incorrectly because you didn’t understand what the other attorney was asking. Every now and then a trick question will get tossed at you. If you don’t ask the other attorney to be clear, it may trip you up.
DO ask for a break when you need one. Statutorily the other attorney can depose you for six hours by default. However, that does not mean they can keep you stuck in that seat for six hours straight with no breaks. If you need to get some air, have a snack, or go to the bathroom, simply ask the attorney conducting the deposition for a break. This has multiple benefits, it gives you a chance to recollect yourself as well as a chance to speak with your attorney in private for additional advice.
Lastly, DO maintain your composure and treat the other attorney with respect. The last thing you want to do is show the other side that you are rattled or upset. If you get asked a question and your demeanor changes, that is a signal to the other attorney to press the issue. Remember, no matter how friendly they act towards you they are not your friend, and they are not on your side. If you show them that a particular topic bothers you they will take advantage.