by D. Shane Read
Reviewed by Jack T. Nelson
Winning at Deposition presents a well-structured and relatively concise reference for depositions, as a whole, within a lawyer’s practice. From taking a deposition, to preparing clients before they are deposed, to using deposition testimony at trial, Read provides a good general overview of where the deposition fits within the scope of civil litigation.
While the overall themes of being prepared, not letting opposing counsel get to you, and keeping your cool should come as no surprise, the book makes its strongest points with the specific practice pointers. Everything, from where to sit, to limiting your introductory questions, to suggestions for outlining a deposition for impeachment use at trial, are addressed in a clear and easy to read narrative. A thorough index also helps the reader identify any areas he or she may want to review to brush up on a particular topic.
In combination with these practice pointers, Read does an excellent job using specific examples from high profile depositions to provide concrete applications of his suggested techniques. Excerpts from the depositions of Bill Gates, OJ Simpson and others are used to demonstrate both the good and bad in real world situations. As a final overview, two of the last chapters present a review of Bill Clinton’s deposition and grand jury testimony related to the Linda Jones and Monica Lewinsky scandals. The use of these actual deposition transcripts not only helps to solidify the ideas presented, but given most readers’ general familiarity of these high profile cases, it also helps to keep the book readable from start to finish. (Readers should be aware that, given the nature of the Clinton scandal, the Clinton testimony does get a little racy.)
Overall, particularly for a starting practitioner, Winning at Deposition presents an excellent “how to” resource for conducting and defending depositions. While it certainly is no substitute for experience, it may help new attorneys skip a few avoidable mistakes along the way. Additionally, even for a seasoned attorney, Winning at Deposition provides helpful tips to help increase efficiency and decrease headaches with difficult witnesses and opposing counsel.