Depositions are extremely important in civil litigation. It accounts in detail the testimony of the witness which will be used during the trial. Law firms usually hire legal transcribers to write word-for-word transcriptions of interrogations, meetings, hearings, etc., but the job doesn’t end there.
A deposition summary needs to contain only relevant information. For legal professionals like paralegals and attorneys, it is critical to learn how to write a deposition summary in a clear, crisp, and brief manner.
Writing a Deposition Summary
Reading the Transcript
Before summarizing the deposition, a thorough reading of the entire transcript can give you a gist of the matter at hand. Pay close attention to the important questions asked by attorneys and the corresponding answers given by witnesses.
Annotating the Deposition
Whether you make notes using a pencil, post-it-notes, or word-processing software, annotating the full transcript text can help determine important points to include in the deposition summary. In some cases, law firms may ask multiple members to annotate the script, while one person condenses all of the annotations to create a final summary.
Summarizing the Deposition
Cross-referencing the deposition summary to the full transcript is a useful method of presenting the information. One way to do this is by arranging key points on a table. For example, the table may have three columns with “Page/Line”, “Topic”, and “Testimony” as headings. Under the first column, you might indicate 30/12 to indicate page 30, line 12.
Be sure to go through the entire transcript. Identify the parties involved, such as the plaintiff, witness, etc. Carefully determine exactly who the responses are coming from. Take note of allegations and facts that are brought up.
Delete unrelated and irrelevant information from the deposition summary. The point of the deposition is to summarize key points to keep things organized and easy to read. Aim to summarize five pages of testimony into a single page.
Make sure that your deposition summary is presented in a way that doesn’t distract the reader. Make it visually appealing and organized, keeping page numbers on the left and testimonies on the right. Don’t forget to indicate the page number, date, case name, names of witnesses, etc.
Legal professionals often run into situations wherein deposition summaries are needed at moment’s notice. By writing a synopsis of testimonies, trials can be shortened, facts are easily accounted, and lawyers and judges can save time.