“Should I go to the defendant’s deposition?”

Yes! Not only should you, you must.

The title above was a search string I saw in yesterday’s stats. I’m so startled by the question, I’m responding now, immediately, this morning.

One particular problem I had with my personal injury lawyers became a key accusation in my grievance against them: I learned they had deposed the defendant only after I was called into the office to hear the settlement offer.

Later, when one of the firm’s lawyers called me, I told him it was my right as a named party in the case to attend all depositions. Yet no one had informed me when the defendant’s deposition was scheduled, nor invited me to attend.

Furthermore, I told him I couldn’t understand how the lawyer conducting the deposition could have prepared for it adequately without first reviewing the case with me, the plaintiff.

His response? They had my deposition transcripts to review, as preparation for the defendant’s deposition. They had my transcripts, when the live person who knew the full story was a short subway ride away? Nonsense.

How could a lawyer who had not even talked to me know if the defendant was fudging a key fact in the case? Did the lawyer overlook an essential area of questioning?

I don’t know who conducted that deposition. Since Dinkes & Schwitzer changed associates constantly and, at least in my case, hired outside lawyers to represent me at my depositions, how could I have confidence that whoever conducted the defendant’s deposition knew anything about my case?

Aside from the plaintiff’s right to be at all depositions, a lawyer should want his client there, sitting next to him, maybe taking notes, but certainly in attendance to offer off-the-record comments or refutation.

Before the defendant’s deposition, a lawyer should tell his plaintiff-client whether he wants her to pass notes, or to wait until a break to make comments to him. And after the deposition, a lawyer should ask the plaintiff to read the defendant’s deposition transcripts, to check for inaccuracies and/or to pick up good points.

No lawyer, no matter how thoroughly informed he might be about a case, can possibly know as much about the history, the facts, the circumstances, the documents, the struggles, the personalities as does his client. He should be employing his client to assist him with the case, especially when it comes to deposing the defendant.

If your lawyer doesn’t seem interested in having you at the defendant’s deposition — or worse, as in my case, doesn’t even tell you about it — I think you have the wrong lawyer.





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