4 Tips: How to Survive Your First Deposition

By Gabriella Khorasanee, JD on January 17, 2014 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

You're a first-year associate, and after months of document review, you've been asked to attend a deposition. You're thinking: "Yes, I've made it to the big leagues." But in all actuality, you won't actually do anything, besides sit and watch. In fact, the little chat Rashida Jones had with her client as a second-year associate in "The Social Network," is almost pushing the bounds of reality.

But still, it's your first depo and you want to be prepared. Here's some info on what to expect, and four tips on how to get through it with grace.

1. Dress Appropriately

We can't say this enough -- you've got to dress professionally. Attending a deposition is no time for business casual. Gentlemen, make sure you wear a suit and tie; ladies, please wear a suit, though whether you have to wear a skirt will be firm-culture dependent -- follow the lead of the more senior women at your firm.

2. Take Notes

Or, be prepared to, at least. You should always have a pen and paper, or note-taking device with you. Though a recorder will be there to transcribe the dialogue, you can take notes on non-verbal cues, or jot down questions that you think were not fully answered. Your partner or senior associate may also alert you for things to look for -- be prepared to take notes on them.

3. Be Prepared

You should also prep yourself on the matter, and the client, involved in the deposition. Read background information, and know where to find key documents. Your team may likely bring documents to the deposition, but you should be ready to locate any documents they may need during the course of the deposition. The partner is not going to leave the depo to retrieve things, you are.

4. The Dont's

Don't yawn, or constantly look at your watch/the clock. If you'd rather be somewhere else, don't let on or you'll never be asked to attend another client meeting or conference again. If you have nervous ticks or fidget a lot, get that under control. Try to be aware of what you are writing and what people can see -- i.e., no doodling. Oh, and don't be an ass.

Attending your first deposition is an exciting learning experience. If you follow these four tips, you will not only survive your first deposition, but you'll be asked to attend more. Who knows, maybe in seven years' time you'll actually be the one asking the questions.

What are your tips for surviving a deposition? Tweet us @FindLawLP.

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