I’m pleased to report that Amazon.com has named my 2014 book, 10,000 Depositions Later: 33 Tips for Taking Superior Depositions, as its #1 national bestseller for books on trial practice for lawyers. The book has now pulled ahead of sixty-one other authors in the category of courtroom strategies and tactics.
The title of the book refers to the fact that I have handled more than 10,000 depositions (examinations and cross-examinations of witnesses under oath, in proceedings prior to trial). The book is a collection of my most effective tactics in obtaining favorable testimony from hostile witnesses.
Many people are surprised to learn that less than 5% of all lawsuits are now decided by a jury. The vast majority never make it that far, either because the cases settle or because the judge issues a ruling that eliminates the need for a trial. These settlements and rulings still depend on witness testimony, but it is testimony given by witnesses in preliminary proceedings known as depositions. Depositions are mandatory witness examinations that take place either in a lawyer’s conference room or at a court reporter’s office. This is where lawyers hear what the witnesses would tell a jury, and is where lawyers grill witnesses for the purpose of gaining favorable admissions that can be used to strengthen (or weaken, depending) the value of a case. Once depositions are complete, the parties know what each witness will say and the negotiations can begin. If the negotiations fail, a judge will usually then read the deposition transcripts and may make a decision that eliminates the need for a trial. So lawyers must be far more effective in these preliminary deposition examinations.
The book, which is written for trial lawyers, teaches almost three dozen techniques for getting better results from depositions.