One of our finest moments in private practice took place during a deposition. We had been up the entire night before, along with the paralegal on the case, pulling documents and preparing deposition outline material for the partner.
It was a critical deposition: the deposition of the plaintiff, a billionaire businessman (on the Forbes 400 — although not as high as Bruce Kovner). The questions were being asked by the partner, but we were on hand to watch and assist.
Several hours into the deposition — due to our sleep deprivation, coupled with less-than-scintillating testimony — we started to nod off (as did the paralegal). The plaintiff noticed. After the partner asked a question that was very similar to a prior question, the plaintiff exploded: “You already asked me that. Your questions are so boring and repetitive, YOUR OWN COLLEAGUE IS FALLING ASLEEP!”*
But if we had been attending this deposition, we wouldn’t have fallen asleep. Here’s a bit of context for the video clip, contained in the email that forwarded it to us:
The attached deposition excerpt will underscore the importance of good witness preparation and steady questioning technique when taking. (Pay special attention to the defending attorney’s studied silence on the tape because the witness obviously was in firm control.) Also, note the excellent follow-up question at the end by the questioning attorney.
Click on the video clip below to play — and be sure to listen through to the end, ’cause that’s where the best stuff is. Enjoy!
(Our “preemption check” was cursory, so if this video has been previously discussed on another website or blog, we apologize.)
* You’re probably wondering what happened to us, after we fell asleep during the most important deposition in the case, and got made fun of — on the record — by the billionaire plaintiff.
No, we didn’t get fired. In fact, the partner was very gracious and understanding. In the elevator after the deposition, he told us: “I know you and [the paralegal] were up all night. So don’t worry about it. When I was an associate, I fell asleep during a deposition too. The problem was, I was taking it!”
Tough Deposition Questioning [YouTube]
Earlier: Not Your Typical Deposition