Bench & Bar of Minnesota is the official publication of the Minnesota State Bar Association.

Deposing a Client

Preparing your client to give a discovery deposition is actually simple, and falls into two phases.

First, be sure your client understands the facts of the case, and particularly that your client knows the documents at issue.  And be sure you have fully and completely disclosed any requested documents to the other side in advance.  Review your complaint, your interrogatory answers, the medical records, and your client’s tax returns with the client in advance.

Second, teach your client how to be a deponent.  A discovery deposition is totally different than trial testimony.  In discovery, there are only four rules for the client to follow: (1) Tell the truth; (2) Listen to the question; (3) Answer the question (and not some other question that wasn’t asked); and (4) Stop talking.  Do your best to dissuade the client who wants to argue the case, prove a point, or follow some other agenda; the four rules are the better path.

Finally, tell the client to stand up for her/himself and not be pushed around.  Be wary of questions beginning with “wouldn’t you agree with me that … .”  Think before agreeing, feel free to disagree, and stand your ground—even after opposing counsel has asked 13 different versions of the same question.  If the client won’t take a stand and defend his or her own position, there isn’t much that you as the attorney can do.

Steve Rufer

Pemberton, Sorlie, Rufer & Kershner PLLP

Fergus Falls

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