Question: I have to testify in a deposition for an ongoing civil lawsuit. I have never done this before. Do you have any tips?

Answer: A deposition is a strange, and sometimes unpleasant experience, formally defined as obtaining recorded testimony for use in court at a later date. Many lawyers will use a deposition as a bully tactic to intimidate timid parties to a lawsuit. Be strong, and don’t allow yourself to be pushed around. Don’t get baited into a fight, or caught up in drama created by the lawyer. Just answer the questions being asked.

At a deposition you will simply put words on paper. Your answers will be transcribed by a stenographer. Answer to the best of your ability. If you cannot recall an answer, just say so. When asked a question for which you have an answer, be stingy with your words.

Unlike a conversation, you are not required to elaborate on your answers. Here is a basic example on “stingy answering:”

Question: Do you know what time it is?
Answer: Yes.

Notice the answer was not – “Yes, it’s 2:30 p.m.” Force the attorney to follow up his questions to get the details if he desires. Many lawyers are fishing for your volunteered information to help their case. Don’t speak more than needed.

Resist the urge to tell your entire story or to try your case all at once. Your chance to explain your answers will come at trial, when your lawyer asks you questions.

Be prepared for the attendance of your opposing party. He or she may attend to follow along and coach the lawyer as to details for follow up.

This article was originally published in the Lowell Sun and is for informational purposes only and not to be relied on as legal advice, in any manner.