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How do you prepare for a deposition?

Nobody wants to end up in litigation over a dispute -- but it happens. If you're in that situation, you're probably going to end up having to give a deposition to the opposing party.

Depositions are formal, recorded hearings where a party to a lawsuit or a witness gives oral testimony in response to questions asked by the opposing counsel. Your success or failure at a deposition can dramatically affect the trajectory of your case, so it's wise to be prepared.

The American Bar Association offers some tips that can help you prepare for a deposition. They include:

  • Don't take anything with you except your keys and your glasses. In particular, leave behind any notes you may have used to keep track of the particulars of your case, any journals you may have kept and your cellphone. Otherwise, you may be asked to give the opposing attorney copies of your records, emails or texts.
  • Arrive a few minutes early and walk in with your attorney. This gives you time to scope out the restroom and find the water fountain or coffee pot. This also prevents you from having to walk in alone in front of the opposing party and their counsel (which can be daunting and uncomfortable and throw you off).
  • Wear nice clothing. What that means may vary from person to person, but you want to look presentable -- like you're heading into court. You are being inspected and evaluated, so you want to avoid anything that might be considered outlandish.

It's also important to to talk about your litigation strategy going in to the deposition with your counsel. You'll probably be reminded that you should always wait until you hear the entire question being asked before you answer and to never guess. It's better to admit that you don't remember something or that you don't understand the question than say something that's incorrect.

Depositions are unfamiliar to most people -- so take the time to fully understand the process before you get there.

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