Depositions

A few weeks ago, I discussed whether it was possible to go paperless. I want to pick up where I left off and drop a few more tips for how to go paperless and why it’s important. For me, as a solo practitioner, I have to be efficient. It’s how I keep an edge over other small firms and how I level the playing ground with big firms. But, it’s not all about competing with others. I reduce my paper use because I am just way too busy to spend 3 hours doing something that I could do in 30 minutes.

Also, just to be clear, when I say “paperless,” I really mean “mostly paperless.” It is not possible or practical to go entirely paperless in this current decade, but I think that the less paper we use, the better.

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Litigators get away with a lot of obnoxious stuff during discovery. For better or worse, the pre-trial discovery phase of civil litigation is every lawyer’s opportunity to relive those times when parents leave kids alone for the first time: every slight, disagreement, and jealousy on a slow boil explodes into anarchic back-biting once there’s no authority figure around to enforce civility. Bring on the mean-spirited letters and smack-talking RFAs.

When it comes to depositions, it doesn’t always reach “fatboy” levels, but a federal deposition isn’t a deposition until someone threatens to call the magistrate — though never does.

Which is why this benchslap, where a federal judge levies a sanction straight out of elementary school, is so appropriate….

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Dropbox is one of my favorite programs. It certainly changed the way we share files and collaborate on cases. Another one of my favorite programs is TrialDirector, the best program for presenting evidence in trial. It’s got great tools for organizing and annotating evidence. Both programs have their pluses and minuses in terms of price and features.

When those two programs have a baby, that baby is awesome. The baby’s name is TDNotebook.

What Is TDNotebook?

TDNotebook is a cloud-based evidence management tool for collaboration between your office, co-counsel, vendors, and experts. It’s free like how Dropbox is free – you get a certain amount of free storage, and for anything above that, you have to pay.

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Kentucky State Rep. Will Coursey

Let me ask you this. Did you tell her, “Don’t be a cockblocker”?

– Attorney Thomas Clay during the deposition of Kentucky State Rep. Will Coursey, who is currently facing a retaliation suit from one of his former staffers, Nicole Cusic. Coursey’s lawyer, William Johnson, wants the deposition to be sealed because the questions Clay asked were “the kind of smut and gossip that the media and the public would love, but [have] nothing to do with the relevance of this case.”

(Keep reading to watch video of part of Coursey’s “smut-filled” deposition.)

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The ceiling of a Columbia dorm room collapsed on a student, giving her a herniated disk and persistent headaches. She claims the back injury compromised her ability to get a decent night’s sleep and forced her to take muscle relaxants to deal with the pain.

Now the newly minted lawyer is suing the school over her injuries, and the school’s lawyer is suggesting that the victim can’t really have this back injury because she kept getting good grades.

Brilliant legal strategy!

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[Shawn Carter aka Jay-Z] is one of the most prolific and hardest-working businessmen and recording artists in the world. This summer, among many other commitments, he is headlining a grueling 18-city North American concert tour with his wife, Beyoncé Knowles, between June 25 and August 6. With the tour opening fast approaching, the next four weeks are already filled beyond capacity with production and business meetings and rehearsals. Preparing for a stadium tour is a non-stop effort. And this is all in addition to Mr. Carter’s usual duties as the CEO of several businesses, at least two scheduled product launches, and curating a first-of-its-kind, bicoastal, music festival in August…. [S]cheduling an early deposition would unnecessarily burden and harass [Jay-Z].

Cynthia S. Arato of Shapiro Arato & Isserles, in a letter to Magistrate Judge Ronald L. Ellis (S.D.N.Y.), detailing her client’s unavailability for a deposition.

Arato represents UMG Recordings, Island Def Jam Music Group, Roc-A-Fella Records, and Jay-Z in a suit filed by Dwayne Walker, who claims he’s owed $7 million in contractual royalties for the use of a logo he allegedly drew in 1995. Walker is represented by one of most infamous lawyers to ever grace these pages: Gregory Berry, he of the “superior legal mind.” In her letter, Arato claims that Berry has made “improper efforts to sensationalize” the case.

(Keep reading to see the full letter, which really hangs Greg Berry out to dry.)

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“… TO BE SANCTIONED!”

Usher wrote this song called Bad Girl. It’s got a good beat and you can dance to it. Anyway, this guy named — I s**t you not — Dan Marino claims he wrote the song and Usher and his cronies stole it from him. He wants millions and millions of dollars. But rather than trigger the fall of the House of Usher, his lawyer got handed his hat.

He hired a lawyer named Francis Malofiy to zealously represent his interests. To his credit, “zeal” is not a failing of Mr. Malofiy. Courtesy, respect, professional responsibility — these things might be lacking, but he’s got zeal covered.

And, as it so often does, the latter failings (coupled with the former strength) gave rise to an epic benchslap….

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Time and again, we’ve seen outrageous behavior and absurd antics from both lawyers and litigants during depositions. Sometimes deponents tell attorneys to “suck [their] dicks,” and sometimes attorneys actually draw pictures of dicks.

Sometimes, Biglaw partners get so frustrated due to the sheer stupidity of the deponent’s testimony on the record that they come thisclose to losing their minds.

Luckily, in this case, we’ve got it on video…

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I probably took just a dozen business trips as an associate (I travel much more frequently now as an in-house lawyer). A dozen is also about the total number of hours I actually spent working on all those flights combined. I just never could pass up the “free” travel billables, even if it meant working all night on arrival.

A more or less typical trip, described after the jump.

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How often do you stop to think about the ubiquitous “Made in China” label? If you’re a China lawyer, you should think about it almost every day.

To convince recalcitrant clients of the need for product liability protection for the products they are having made in China, I sometimes send them the following deposition questions asked of a U.S. manufacturer whose China-made product had badly injured a child:

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