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25 Litig. 61 (1998-1999)
Preparing Yourself for the Deposition

handle is hein.journals/laba25 and id is 217 raw text is: Trial Notebook
Preparing Yourself for the Deposition

If you don't know where you're going,
when you get there, you'll be lost.
-Yogi Berra
Angus gave a talk to the City Bar Asso-
ciation on depositions, and I went, hop-
ing to pick up something I could use in
an article.
The most important part of taking a
deposition, he said, is not how you
handle the witness or even the lawyer on
the other side. It's how you handle your-
self before you ever walk in the room.
First, you've got to prepare a simple
plan-in writing-that covers what
you want to accomplish when you start
asking questions. Otherwise, in the ten-
sion of the situation, you are undoubt-
edly going to overlook something
important.
Second, just like a team getting
ready to play an important game,
you've got to go through a series of
steps that will prepare you to get what
you want.
Unfortunately, the only deposition
planning most lawyers do is just to look
over the file for a few minutes, jot down
a couple of notes, then figure they will
simply ask some questions and see
what they get.
That's a recipe for missing some-

by James W. McElhaney
Senior Editor
thing important in almost every deposi-
tion you take, Angus said. Truth is,
most lawyers spend more time getting a
witness ready when they are defending
a deposition than they spend getting
themselves ready when they are taking
a deposition.
I really admire Brian Tracy, the
time-management expert. He has a say-
ing you should take to heart: 'If you fail
to plan, you plan to fail.' So I developed
a way to brainstorm my tactics and
goals before every deposition I took.
After preparing myself for deposi-
tions that way for some time, I realized
I could streamline the process by mak-
ing two simple check lists.
First is a whole set of different
objectives-some that go together and
others that are alternatives. Like a play
book for a football team, it's a list of
various things you can try to accom-
plish when you take the deposition.
Part reminder list and part series of
options, it is something to look at every
time you get ready for a deposition.
After you've settled on your game
plan-thought about what you want to

do and how to do it-there is a list of
steps to go through before the deposi-
tion. Those steps are how you get ready
to play the game, said Angus as he dis-
tributed his hand-out.
Me, I was delighted. Angus was pass-
ing out a ready-made article. If he would
only fill in his lists with a few comments
(which is exactly what he did), I would
have practically nothing to do.
Here are the two lists with the notes
I took on his comments:
The first list is based in part on ideas
in The Art and Law of Depositions
(1994), a course book and audio tape
set by John E. Moye of Moye, Giles,
O'Keefe, Vermeire & Gorrell in Den-
ver, CO, and published by The Profes-
sional Education Group of Min-
netonka, MN. The second list covers
the steps Angus goes through to get
himself ready for a deposition.
Objectives in Taking
Depositions-The Different
Plays You Can Run
1. Learn the Facts.
While you want to get information in
any discovery deposition, you should
always learn as much as you can before

LITIGATION Spring 1999

61

Volume 25 Number 3

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