Right and Wrong Way to Prepare for a Deposition

I have written about deposition preparation many times and this week brought me an email from a thoughtful woman who is involved in a workers’ compensation case and who feels unprepared even though her lawyer thinks she's done her job. This is one of the most misunderstood areas in trial work; lawyers who dabble in personal injury work do not get it right nine out of ten times. So go ahead and read the question and the answer and then ask yourself this question. What do you think, was that preparation adequate and effective?

QUESTION: Hello, I read your blogs about how to prepare for a deposition and wanted to thank you for helping me to understand and be prepare before the worker's comp. deposition. I've just hired a lawyer who is constantly saying one thing, "Just say the truth." She also believes I have a communication problem, and this is bothering me. She wanted to set an appointment just before the deposition and I didn't like that because I would have no time to digest the essence of what I was being told. I needed more information from her to absorb her advice or time to get ready. She didn't like it when I suggested we should have a separate meeting well in advance of the deposition, as you suggest in your blogs.  But I insisted to see her well in advance. She is very concerned if she can take my case, and I am not sure. All of the sudden, I get a letter from the other attorney to get an interpreter if I don't speak proficiently speak and understand the English language. What do you think about all of this? 

Thanks again, Ms. E.

ANSWER: As for how you described being prepared for the deposition, when the advice is simply, "Just tell the truth" that is not how lawyers who know what they are doing prepare clients for their deposition. Yes, you have to tell the truth; but no, that is not effective legal advice. Quite the opposite. You also have to review the facts of your case and have a thorough understanding of the underlying issues. The lawyers job is to review with you interrogatory answers, medical information, the accident report, any previous statements you've given and photographs if available. There have been times I have met my clients at the scene of the accident to refresh their recollection. Yes, you just tell the truth, but the facts are what is important. And so I would say the better advice would be to say, "As you are telling the truth, just recite the facts.". Now how about if we spend an hour or more a week before the deposition reviewing the facts of your case. That way you will have time to think about how to answer the other lawyer's questions. And while we are at it let me tell you about how to think about putting all questions into three baskets. 

Well we aren't doing that in today's blog, we will save that for another day. 

Have you read these posts of mine about deposition preparation? These posts should help you understand why this advice missed the mark with being effective. If you go to my website and type in the search term, "just tell the truth", all these linked articles will appear.

Your own lawyer should be deciding on whether or not an interpreter is required and if so she needs to hire one. If she’s not willing then perhaps she should have turned the case down or referred it to some other lawyer who is willing to spend money on your claim. If no lawyer is willing to spend money on your case, then you are wasting your time in litigation.

I’ll list six blog posts and one video (see above) that should help you. Good luck!


Steve Lombardi
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Iowa personal injury, workers' compensation, motorcycle, quadriplegic, paraplegic, brain injury, death
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