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Have you ever given a deposition? If you have ever been involved in a lawsuit you undoubtedly have, but surprisingly enough many have no idea what a deposition entails. In its essence, a deposition a question and answer session where the opposing attorney asks all types of questions ranging from where you grew up to why you filed you cause of action. Typically it will involve the deponent, the person giving the testimony, the deponent’s lawyer, opposing counsel, and a certified court reporter that takes down everything that is said for future use such as a court hearing or trial. While much effort is used to discover things relevant to the lawsuit that brought you to the deposition, many of the questions will not be or even remotely seem relevant.

Regardless of the situation and questions asked, I always encourage my clients to observe and subscribe to the following 10 rules when giving a deposition which were recently published by the America Bar Association:

1.Tell the truth.
2.Listen to the question. Pause. Think as long as necessary before answering.
3.Don’t pause too long before answering.
4. Make sure you understand the question. Don’t answer unless and until you do.
5. If you don’t understand the questions, say so. Ask the questioner to explain, repeat, or rephrase the questions.
6. Answer clearly and directly.
7.If you don’t know the answer, say “I don’t know.”
8. If you don’t remember the answer, say, “I don’t remember.”
9. Don’t confuse “I don’t know” with “I don’t remember.”
10. Where appropriate, qualify your “I don’t remember” answer. Say something like, “I don’t remember at this moment” or “I don’t remember without looking at” the document in question.

If you follow these guidelines, at a minimum, you will be on the right track for a successful deposition. It is when people deviate from these reconditions, especially number 1, that people find themselves in problematic situations. Do not fall victim to such unethical and dishonorable practices because more often that not, it can and will come back to haunt you.

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