Fresh Perspectives: A Deposition Toolkit For The New Lawyer
By Janine Braxton
Janine Braxton is an attorney at Martenson Hasbrouck & Simon who represents employers in state and federal courts with an emphasis on complex wage and hour representative PAGA and class actions. Janine also focuses on litigating individual discrimination and harassment claims and is a liaison to the California Lawyers Association’s Labor and Employment Executive Committee. Janine can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Depositions are one of the most valuable discovery tools available in litigation. Not only can they affect the valuation of a case, but they provide an opportunity to assess a deponent’s credibility, personality, version of the facts, and how well he or she will be received by a jury. Only a small percentage of cases proceed to trial, so depositions are often the only mechanism to obtain direct testimony from witnesses prior to disposition of the action. Indeed, for employment law and many other areas of practice, depositions are crucial and serve as the primary bases for summary judgment and other dispositive motions.
One of the best ways to gain relevant experience as an early practitioner is to attend as many depositions as you can to observe the process. Ask senior colleagues if you can attend their depositions. Better yet, offer to help them prepare. While some clients are less than thrilled by the prospect of paying multiple attorneys to attend depositions, COVID-19 has significantly reduced the associated costs. The pandemic has effectively ended traditional in-person depositions, replacing them with virtual proceedings. Without travel or lodging costs, virtual depositions are much more cost-effective, making this a particularly opportune time to attend and observe depositions.