How to Summarize a Deposition Transcript

by Robert Loughry | Sep 6, 2018 8:51:13 AM

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Depositions are one of the most important components of any litigated case. This is because they offer both sides the opportunity to learn more about witnesses and what they may be able to testify about at trial. When summarizing a deposition, there are certain things that are of particular importance. To help, here’s a quick guide on how to summarize a deposition transcript.

Read the Entire Deposition

As time consuming as it may be, there is much value in reading the entire transcript before summarizing it. Unless you have been substantially involved in every step of the case, from intake to discovery, it’s likely you may not know all of the hidden elements that are important to the case. By reading the entire deposition, you should get a pretty good sense of the overall tone and theme of the deposition. This will tell you (a) what mattered most to the attorney taking the deposition and (b) the big picture of what the witness had to offer. 

Tab Key Questions and Answers in the Deposition Text

As you read, be sure to note the location of key threads. If you are reading a paper copy, you can use sticky notes or flags. If reading on PDF or an e-transcript, make an electronic highlight or note on the page where the statements are made. This will save you a lot of time later while you work to summarize the deposition. 

State a Theme

For attorneys who are involved in complex litigation, a well-summarized deposition transcript can be invaluable for a number of reasons. Attorneys use these summaries:

  • In future depositions of other witnesses
  • In mediations or arbitrations
  • In settlement negotiations
  • To argue motions in court
  • At trial

Therefore, it is imperative that a summary be both factually accurate and condensed. This means you need to quickly state the overall theme of the deposition and what was obtained, if anything, early in your summary. This can be done with a succinct statement of the objective of the deposition and a 2-3 sentence statement summarizing the content that was discussed.

Focus on Brevity

You’d be surprised how many words you can remove from your writing without losing any value. In fact, most people write far too many words to accomplish their goals. Lifehacker.com provides a great example of how you can pair down your word choices to be more straightforward and direct without losing any meaning.

Keep a Consistent Format

Everyone has their own way of summarizing depositions, so be sure to check with the lead attorneys handling the case. However, one common structure will be organized to reference the relevant page and line numbers. See the following example of a basic structure. You will also want to separate different sections or subsections by which party’s attorney is performing the examination.

Page / Line

Topic

Testimony

25/4

Work history

Witness has been orthopedic surgeon 30+ years

27/1

Past depositions

Witness was deposed twice: 9/2/15 and 10/15/17


Get Help With Depositions & Other Litigation Services
 

We hope this guide on how to summarize a deposition transcript has been helpful. Paralegals, attorneys, and other staff routinely run into situations where complex digital document storage or deposition summaries may be needed on short notice. For deposition help and other litigation solutions, contact A. William Roberts, Jr. & Associates (AWR) today.

 

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