There’s some advice that we all tell our witnesses when we prepare them for deposition. Tell the truth; only answer the specific question; don’t guess; etc. Here are some other pointers you should include, if you don’t already.
- You will be asked a lot of questions that you don’t know or don’t remember the answer to. Don’t feel bad about that. Less experienced witnesses sometimes beat themselves up because they think they sound stupid. There’s no reason to.
- A question asked in an accusatory tone doesn’t mean that you did anything wrong.
- Normally when someone asks you a question, it’s because they don’t know the answer. Depositions are different. Assume the person asking the question already knows the answer.
- No matter what you feel about the attorney deposing you, be polite and control your emotions. In determining what the case is worth, the other attorney wants to know how easily you can be portrayed as someone who is unreasonable or unprofessional. Emotional outbursts, condescension, and sarcasm will lead him or her to decide the case has more value.
- If you don’t actually create HR policies, don’t say that you did. It can have serious implications in terms of punitive damages.
- Be prepared to answer these questions:
- If you had it to do over again, would you do anything differently?
- What grade would you give yourself for how you handled this situation?
- It’s possible that, during the deposition, the attorneys will have one or more heated exchanges. Don’t think it means you did something wrong or something bad happened. It’s just what we do.
Also remember that all the pointers in the world won’t take the place of subjecting your own witness to probing cross-examination. It’s a great compliment when they tell you that the prep session was harder than the actual deposition.
Do you have any unique pointers that you use and are willing to share? If so, add a comment below.