We all know how to take depositions, but sometimes  we forget the basics  because we think we don’t have to prepare. Here’s a very simple outline of things to consider before you take a deposition.  It’s a reminder of what we should consider before we depose someone.


1. MAKE COPIES  OF THE CIVIL RULE: The Civil Rules relating to deposition discovery have provisions governing conduct and objections that are permissible during a deposition. With some defense counsel it may be a good idea to mark a copy of the rule as an exhibit and remind counsel of  its provisions)

2.   COPY ANY SUBPOENA. It’s a good idea to mark the document as an exhibit where there are provisions of what the witness is to bring to the deposition or other similar provisions.

3.   COPY INTERROGATORY DISCLOSURE OF WHAT WITNESS WILL TESTIFY ABOUT. If there is an interrogatory description of what the witness will testify to at trial marking it as an exhibit to limit the areas of testimony may be important at trial.


  1. IDENTIFY KEY ISSUES IN THE CASE. Don’t go to the deposition without first clearly identifying the key issues in the case. In most cases  your deposition should focus on them primarily
  2. DETERMINE OBJECTIVES FOR EACH ISSUE.  Once you know the key issues decide what your goal is for them. Do you want to minimize their importance? Do you want to undermine this witness’s credibility about them? And so on.
  3. DIVIDE INTO INDIVIDUAL CHAPTERS. Each category or issue should be a separate part of your deposition outline for organizational reasons.
  4. COPY DOCUMENTS THAT SUPPORT EACH CHAPTER. (1)  Statements, reports or depos of witness (2)  Reports & investigations(3)  Other witness statements  (4)  Standards that apply (5)  Literature that applies  (6)  Photos: video, aerial, newspaper (7)  Diagrams, illustrations & exhibits (8)  Interrogatory, admissions & discovery
  5. CHECK ON THE WITNESS.  Look on the internet and check with services that might have information that would be helpful. Check with other lawyers for possible information about the witness.


  1. CREATE CHECKLIST OUTLINE FOR DEPOSITION. Don’t go to the deposition without a checklist. It is too easy to forget or become distracted and overlook an important subject. There are many sources of deposition outlines for different kinds of witnesses. Take the time to create one and when you have, save it for future use.
  2.  ORGANIZE EXHIBIT DOCUMENTS TO BE MARKED AS EXHIBIT WITH COPIES. Don’t waste time at a deposition regarding exhibits you intend to use. Have them organized in the order you intend to mark them. Have an original for the reporter and witness with copies for defense counsel so you can move quickly on without delays

About Paul Luvera

Plaintiff trial lawyer for 50 years. Past President of the Inner Circle of Advocates & Washington State Trial Lawyers Association. Member American Board of Trial Advocates, American College of Trial Lawyers, International Academy, International Society of Barristers, the American Trial Lawyers Hall of Fame & speaker at Spence Trial College
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