Digesting A Deposition (Why A Deposition Summary Is So Important)

Digesting a deposition, what?

What is a deposition summary?

Why spend time summarizing and digesting a deposition when you have the full deposition transcript prepared by the court reporter?

In this article, we will break down the deposition summary concept for you.

Preparing a deposition brief is crucial to ensure you fully master the facts of your case so you can prepare future depositions or go for a home run in a trial.

You are curious to know more?

Continue reading to find out…

Digesting a deposition meaning

Digesting a deposition is a step after deposition and it means to prepare a short, concise and objective summary of the deposition of a witness in a court case.

A deposition is when a witness is asked to testify under oath in the context of a lawsuit.

During the actual deposition, the lawyers will ask the witness many questions while the witness’ answers are recorded verbatim by a court reporter.

Once the transcript is prepared by the court reporter, you may end up with hundreds, if not, thousands of pages of deposition transcript to read.

That’s when digesting a deposition or preparing a summary of a deposition transcript is so useful.

It allows you to condense the transcript into its essentials.

Preparing a deposition summary helps lawyers prepare subsequent witness depositions or prepare for trial.

Difference between a deposition transcript and a digest

The deposition transcript is the written record of all the words spoken by the lawyers and witnesses during a deposition.

In a deposition transcript, you will have all the questions and answers written in the same way that they were asked and answered.

It is the court reporter’s responsibility to prepare a faithful transcript of everything that was said during a deposition completely and without any alteration.

On the flip side, a deposition digest is an objective summary of the deposition transcript in such a way that it preserves its essence.

The deposition digest serves to reduce the content of the deposition transcript to its shortest possible version without losing the essential facts and statements disclosed by the witness.

When summarizing the content of a deposition, care must be taken not to alter the facts, include opinions or summarize statements without their appropriate context.

The deposition brief is useful in helping convey the essence of an entire deposition by perhaps cutting down the number of pages to read by a factor of 10 or more.

Who prepares the deposition summary of a transcript

Digesting the deposition is typically handled by a paralegal.

A paralegal is a professional who understands legal concepts and procedures to whom a lawyer will delegate substantive legal work requiring knowledge of the law and court procedures.

Paralegals have the training and legal knowledge to grasp the nuances in testimony and the impact of the statement on the case.

This way, as they are digesting a deposition, they’ll include statements and factual accounts relevant for the lawyer to review at a later point in time.

Although paralegals are great in digesting a deposition, it can be done by anyone with experience in your law firm.

If someone has sufficient knowledge of the case and pays attention to detail, they can be a good candidate in preparing a summary of a deposition transcript.

Is it mandatory to prepare a digest of a deposition

It is not mandatory to prepare a digest of a deposition.

However, if you have a long deposition and a complex series of facts, it may be highly useful and recommended to prepare a digest of a witness deposition.

At the end of the day, although preparing a deposition summary may be time-consuming, it will be extremely useful when it comes time to refer back to the deposition when needed and to present your case in an organized and impactful way in front of a judge.

So digesting a deposition will make the lawyer’s job easier resulting in better legal services to his or her client.

Can you outsource a deposition summary work

In some jurisdictions, like in the United States, the American Bar Association, state and local bar associations and the National Court Reporters Association have approved the outsourcing of deposition summary by lawyers.

Deposition summary service providers specialize in condensing and summarizing the content of deposition for lawyers and law firms.

If you have many depositions in a case but no time or resources to summarize them, you may consider working with a deposition summary provider to assist you.

What are the deposition summary formats

There are essentially two ways in creating a summary of deposition.

You can prepare a deposition digest using a topical summary format or a page-by-page summary format.

A topical summary format is a summary document organized by topic.

The summarized document will refer to the pages and lines of the deposition and tag an associated topic to those lines.

A common way of creating a topical summary is by creating a table where one column refers to the page of the deposition, the other refers to the lines, another to the topic and the last captures the extract of the deposition document.

You can also prepare a summary using a page-by-page format.

This type of summary reduces the contents of a page to its most useful and essential components.

Different lawyers and law firms may have a different preference. 

There is no prescribed format for deposition summaries.

How to create a deposition digest

The way you’ll go about creating your deposition digest is a question of choice and efficiency.

The first step is to read the case and understand the claims asserted by the parties, the allegations and the legal basis underpinning the parties’ claims.

Once you have a good and solid understanding of the case, you’ll need to understand the objective of deposing the witness.

You may have a list of questions that you needed to be answered or facts to verify.

Make sure you understand what you were after when deposing a witness.

The next step is to carefully read the deposition in the context of the objectives you are looking to achieve in the lawsuit but also by deposing the witness.

As you read the transcript, take detailed notes of important factual statements or admissions made by the witness.

The final step will be to summarize the deposition to its essentials.

You’ll want to capture all the important facts no matter if beneficial to your case or adverse.

Your deposition summary should generally aim to boil down the content of the examination by a factor of 10.

So if you had a 200-page deposition transcript, you should aim to end up with a 20-page summary.

This is not set in stone but this ratio is an overall approximation.

Deposition summary software

Yes, folks, technology has caught up to the deposition summary process!

You have deposition summarizer tools out there providing lawyers and law firms with the ability to create deposition summaries using a software solution.

A deposition summary software allows lawyers and paralegals to centralize their depositions in one central repository, read and highlight important sections of the transcript, take notes and exchange with internal teams.

The software will assist the lawyer in automatically generating a deposition brief based on the highlighted sections.

If you are looking to modernize your internal operations, using a deposition transcript review software program may be an interesting avenue for you.

Takeaways

Digesting a deposition is the process of summarizing the content of a deposition to its most essential and important components.

If you have deposed many witnesses in a case and they have testified on complex fact patterns, you’ll want to create deposition summaries to ensure you have all the relevant facts at your fingertips without having to read thousands of pages of the deposition transcript.

Paralegals are the professionals of choice in preparing a summary of deposition but it can be done by anyone with the right experience.

You can summarize your deposition by topic or on a page-by-page format.

There is no set format in creating a summary of a deposition transcript, it’s really up to you and how you like your information to be presented to you.

One thing is for sure, the more you are prepared in your case, the more you will increase your chance of success.

We hope this article helped you better understand the deposition digest.

Be sure to read our post on what is a deposition!

Have you prepared a deposition summary before?

What was your experience?

We would love to hear from you.

Drop us a comment!