Busy law firms rely on legal transcription services for verbatim transcripts of interrogations, hearings, meetings, briefs, legal examinations, court depositions, and more. However, the documentation task does not end there. As deposition brings forth much more information than is required, defense attorneys are required to prepare a deposition summary after each deposition. A deposition summary is a concise overview of the deposition transcript, and allows fast and reliable access to key testimony.
Deposition summaries are an essential element in the whole litigation process, from discovery to motion practice and at trial. These summaries help attorneys:
- Prepare for ensuing depositions and pretrial motions
- Prepare subsequent discovery responses and demands, including interrogatories
- Get ready for witness exam at trial, and
- Identify significant testimony and issues for witness impeachment at trial
Deposition summaries come in various formats such as traditional page-line, topical index, issue-category, and narrative. Condensing the language of deposition transcription can be time-consuming and tedious. The entire transcript has to be read before summarizing it. This is important to understand the hidden elements that are important to the case as well as the overall tone and theme of the deposition. Discovery documents also need to be organized in chronological order. Bates stamping will ensure that the source document can be easily identified during litigation. Many law firms outsource the deposition summary task to ensure succinct summaries. The advantages of well-prepared deposition summaries include:
- Save time: Time is critical in legal cases. Summaries capture the key points of the deposition and can be quickly referenced to locate a specific portion of the testimony. This saves time, allowing the lawyer to focus on the important tasks of case strategy and trial preparation.
- Ease task of deposition review: Deposition transcripts need to be reviewed though no changes are actually made to them. These reviews are especially important if the lawyer intends to use the testimony to impeach the witness at trial. Deposition summaries ease lengthy deposition reviews by providing the key facts in a concise format.
- Help in the pretrial preparation: Going through the entire deposition transcript, which can also include aspects that are not relevant to the case, can take a lot of time. By providing the necessary information in a brief format, deposition summaries allow lawyers to prep for court. These summaries can be used to prepare witnesses for the trial and also be referenced while doing legal research.
- Useful in cases involving technical testimony: technically-qualified “expert” witnesses provide most evidence in litigation and judgments rendered depend on the quality of the witnesses and evidence provided. Easy-to-read deposition summaries greatly ease handling of cases that involve technical testimony such as workers compensation, personal injury, etc.
- Important to the trial process: Deposition summaries make it easy to locate discrepancies in the witness testimony. They can be used for cross-referencing testimony among several deponents. Judges and jurors find well-prepared summaries more useful than voluminous transcripts.
- Useful for the entire litigation team and others: Besides being read by the assigning attorney, deposition summaries are also read by other litigation team members and clients. Insurance companies also routinely ask for concise summaries of depositions.
Attorneys should provide a summary of the deposition to the other attorneys working on the case with them and also provide the client with the key points. During the discovery process, it is important to keep the file current by including any new information obtained into the case summary. Deposition transcription services can ensure comprehensive documentation of depositions. Summaries are not meant to replace a full reading of the transcript, but are a time-saving tool that boosts the efficiency of the legal team.