How Long Do Depositions Last? Everything Should Know

How Long Do Depositions Last?

If you’ve never been to a legal deposition, you may be wondering how long the process takes. Whether you’re the one who’s being deposed or you’re the plaintiff who will sit in on the deposition, knowing how long the deposition will take can help you plan your day. While no one considers depositions to be fun, they are necessary to properly move the lawsuit along.

So, how long do depositions last? A deposition can last anywhere from 30 minutes to 8 hrs. If the plaintiff’s attorney doesn’t finish asking all the questions, the deponent may be called back on a later date to finish the deposition. The length of the deposition largely depends on the plaintiff’s attorney and the number of questions they have and how the deponent answers the questions.

Going through a deposition can be a grueling process, although there are some benefits for both legal parties involved. The deposition process can bring to light new evidence that favors a certain party. It can also give the deponent an opportunity to share their side of the story. Keep reading to learn how to prepared for a deposition.

What Determines The Length of a Deposition?

There are a few aspects that determine the length of a deposition; the plaintiff’s attorney, the deponent and how they answer each question, and other factors like breaks and technical difficulties. Keep reading to see how each can affect how long you’re in the deposition room.

How The Plaintiff’s Attorney Affects The Length of a Deposition

The plaintiff’s attorney plays the biggest role in determining the length of the deposition. If you’ve never been to a deposition before, then you may not understand why this is. During a deposition, the plaintiff’s attorney is asking the deponent questions. The attorney could have many different questions and ask the deponent to review different documents relating to the legal claims.

If the attorney is a personal injury lawyer, they may have the deponent review a police report from the accident they were involved in. Through my experience as a legal videographer, reviewing these documents can take a while. The lawyer will have the deponent review all the information on the report to see if it correlates with their story.

We’ve worked with some attorneys that managed to keep all the depositions they were apart of to 1 hour, while other attorneys would go for 5 – 6 hours. Some attorneys may use the time to see if the deponent’s story holds up. The longer someone sits in the deponent’s chair, the more ready they are to just be done with the whole thing.

How The Deponent Affects The Length of a Deposition

The deponent is another person who can affect the length of the deposition. The deponent is the person who is being “interviewed” by the plaintiff’s lawyer. Usually, the deponent is the person that the plaintiff is bringing charges against. Other times, depositions are held where witnesses are being deposed.

How the deponent answers the questions can greatly affect the length of the deposition. If the attorney feels like the deponent doesn’t give a straight answer to a question, the attorney may have to ask the question in a different way. Sometimes, the deponents like to talk and get their point across while others like to answer as quickly and as simply as possible.

How Other Factors Affect The Length of the Deposition

There are many other factors that can affect the length of the deposition. Believe it or not, but there are many people involved in the deposition process; the more people that are involved, the more variables there are to determine the length of the deposition.

Breaks

Breaks are allowed during the deposition. During a break, everyone goes “off-record” and can leave the deposition room if need be. The plaintiff’s attorney may call a break to review the information they’ve gathered so far and decide how to proceed with the rest of the deposition.

The deponent can request a break to use the bathroom or to just remove themselves from the room and take a breather. A deponent may find a deposition to be stressful since they are being put on the spot to answer questions about things that could’ve happened a few years ago.

Technical Difficulties

Another aspect that can affect the length of a deposition is technical difficulties. With any depositions, you have a court reporter with a stenograph transcribing all that is being said and a legal videographer with a video camera capturing the deponent. (Check out our article, What is a Legal Videographer?) As with all technology, sometimes things don’t go as planned.

We’ve been in depositions where the camera’s audio suddenly cuts out or the SD card becomes full. During this time, we have to call “off the record” and fix the issue.

If the deponent is talking fast or talking over the attorney, the court reporter may have to explain how information isn’t being captured because they are talking over each other. Small things like this can quickly add up and lengthen the time of your deposition.

The Deponent’s Attorney

Another person who plays an important role during a deposition is the deponent’s attorney. While most of the time, this attorney stays quiet, they may pipe up every now and then to make sure the deponent doesn’t answer a question that is deemed unfair. I’ve also been in depositions where this turns into an argument between the two attorneys which lasts for several minutes.

Running Late

Since there are many people involved in a deposition, if one is running late, it can throw the entire schedule. Unfortunately, things happen; people get caught in traffic or get lost trying to find the office building. While this hasn’t happened often when I’ve been in a deposition, there have been times when the deposition gets pushed back 30 minutes due to this.

How to Prepare For a Deposition

Seeing how the length of a deposition can vary greatly, it’s important to plan accordingly. Here are some tips for preparing for a deposition:

How To Plan Your Day For A Deposition

If you’re scheduled to be at a deposition, don’t make any other obligations for that day. Unless the plaintiff’s attorney has given word on a specific time frame, it’s best to clear your calendar and expect to be in the deposition room for the majority of the day.

Sometimes, the plaintiff’s attorney will schedule multiple depositions on the same day. If this happens, they will usually inform the other party that the deposition needs to be over by a certain time. When this happens, you have a little flexibility on your calendar.

Eat Breakfast Before the Deposition

If you feel nervous about going to a deposition, you may stray away from eating breakfast; however, this can leave make you feel not ontop of your game once the attorney starts asking you questions. Be sure to eat a good breakfast before a deposition so that you don’t feel fatigued and weak.

Stay Hydrated in the Deposition Room

Since you could be in a deposition for hours at a time, it’s important to stay hydrated. You will usually be provided with a glass of water; however, it’s also fine to bring your own bottle. If you’re the deponent, you can expect to do a lot of talking, which can make your throat sore. Having a bottle of water on hand can be refreshing for your throat after answering a question.

Wear a Jacket or a Sweater

bring a jacket or sweater; with my experience, deposition rooms are usually quite chilly! Sitting in a chilly room for a while can become quite unpleasant. Bring a jacket to put on in case you start getting cold.

Your wardrobe can play a big part in your deposition. You want to make sure you pick a sweater or a jacket that is professional; business casual is usually the recommended dress code for depositions. We have an entire article on how you dress can affect your deposition. You can read it here: What to Wear to a Deposition as a Defendant: Complete Guide.

Bring a Lunch for Deposition Day

If a deposition is going to run all day, a lunch break will be given. A time will be set to be back in the deposition room, but until then, you either go to a nearby restaurant or enjoy a packed lunch.

We hope this article is helpful to you in preparing for a deposition. You can prepare further by visiting our article, What to Expect in a Legal Deposition: Complete Guide.

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Matt McWilliams
matt@mcwilliamsmedia.com