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Advanced Depositions Strategy and Practice

Phillip H. Miller & Paul J. Scoptur

Paperback: 360 pages, DVD; 1st edition (2013)

AAJ

Authors Phillip Miller and Paul Scoptur, contributors and course advisors for the American Association for Justice (formerly the Association of Trial Lawyers of America [ATLA®]) Advanced Depositions College, bring you a comprehensive book on depositions.

A successful deposition is the direct result of thoughtful planning and preparation. In Advanced Depositions Strategy and Practice, Miller and Scoptur reveal proven tactics for how to elicit the information you need to support your case theory and craft a cohesive, convincing trial theme.

The authors provide techniques for a focused case analysis, and show you how to effectively navigate through the obstacles you will encounter during depositions. In addition to strategy, this book provides a wealth of specific examples from real case depositions. You will learn how to:

  • Nail down case-critical facts
  • Decide on questioning approaches
  • Use juror attitudes and beliefs to your advantage
  • Obtain all useful information from each deponent
  • Maintain control of each witness’s testimony
  • Handle evasive, hostile, uncooperative, opposing, and expert witnesses

Table of Contents

Publisher’s Note
Acknowledgments
Introduction

1. Understanding Juror Attitudes and Beliefs
2. Develop a Deposition Plan
3. Open-Ended Questions and Exhaustion
4. Estimating Dates, Distances, Time, or Measurement
5. Restating and Summarizing
6. Boxing In
7. Establishing Rules, Principles, and Standards through Defense Witnesses
8. Expert Depositions
9. Deposing the Defense Medical Examiner
10. Dealing with Evasive Witnesses
11. Focus Groups and Strategic Case Planning
12. Innovative Approaches to Depositions
13. Lawyer Conduct during Depositions
Epilogue: The Finish Line
Appendix A: Trucking 30 (b)(6) Deposition Outline
Appendix B: Nursing Home 30(b)(6) Deposition Outline
Appendix C: One Fact, One Question
Appendix D: Transcripts Using the Drivers Manual and Rules of the Road Method
Appendix E: Medical Literature to Use at Deposition
Appendix F: Applicable Federal Rules

Bibliography
Index
About the Authors

Reviews

  1. Phillip Miller and Paul Scoptur—among the most skilled of advocacy teachers—cover the full range of essentials to your becoming a deposition master. They show you what needs to be done and why, and—with striking clarity and directness—exactly how to do it. This book is a strong addition to our advocacy resources.
    —David Ball, author of David Ball on Damages 3 and Reptile

  2. No one in America understands and teaches techniques for depositions that devastate defenses better than Miller and Scoptur—no one.
    —Jim Lees, member of the American Association for Justice and West Virginia Trial Lawyers Association

  3. Paul Scoptur and Phillip Miller approach depositions through the lens of years of experience with focus groups, taking strong depositions themselves, and teaching how to conduct depositions. They know how to obtain the most from a witness in any deposition situation.
    —Jerome O’Neill, fellow of the International Society of Barristers, member of the American Board of Trial Advocates, former president of the Vermont Association for Justice, cochair of the NCA Board of Trustees, member of the AAJ Board of Governors

  4. Having worked with Paul and Phillip as litigation consultants in all the major trucking litigation my office handles, I can unequivocally state the techniques work, work exceptionally well, and have caused more than one insurance company to tender limits in what were not only ‘no offer’ cases but ‘never offer’ cases. The distilling of the best deposition techniques from multiple schools of thought makes this a must-read. Every lawyer in my office had to read this book before they took another deposition. Every new lawyer in my office will have to read this book before they read the first case file. Strategic, tactical, timely, and immediately useful, this book is a must-read for every lawyer who ever plans to take a deposition.
    —Morgan G. Adams, past chair, AAJ Trucking Litigation Group; diplomate, National College of Advocacy

  5. Paul Scoptur: Great teacher. Great motivator. He was hard on us, but we deserved it. Excellent communicator with outstanding grasp of the core deposition techniques. He also motivated me to go out and try them!
    —Vince Parrett, member of Motley Rice, LLC; served as naval officer and trial lawyer in U.S. Navy JAG Corps

  6. Advanced Depositions Strategy and Practice is the bible on how to take effective depositions that generate big settlements and serious verdicts.
    —Bill Barton, author of Recovering for Psychological Injuries, 3rd edition, and past president of the Oregon and Western Trial Lawyers Associations

  7. This book is a must-have in any plaintiff lawyer’s library. Phillip and Paul are masters at the art and science of deposition taking, and this book and DVD with video examples teaches time-proven techniques that lead to killer depositions. And we all know killer depositions lead to better settlements and verdicts!
    —Mark R. Kosieradzki, past chair, AAJ Nursing Litigation Group; faculty member, AAJ Advanced Deposition College

  8. Advanced Depositions Strategy and Practice is exactly the kind of book lawyers must read to ensure they are confident not only at the deposition, but also at trial or the negotiating table. Many guides to depositions can do the former, leaving the attorney with the feeling that the deposition itself was a ‘win’ and covered all the necessary ground. Few can do the latter, setting up victory down the road, when it really counts. This book does both by explaining every part of the process from multiple angles, with insight and practical examples from years of experience, plus advice and anecdotes from lawyers across the country.
    —Bryan F. Aylstock, appointee to leadership roles in several Plaintiffs’ Steering Committees for Multi-District Litigations, including co–lead counsel and multi-district coordinator; founding partner of litigation firm Aylstock, Witkin, Kreis & Overholtz, PLLC

  9. Phillip Miller and Paul Scoptur have put together what should be the ‘go to’ book on depositions. They have combined decades of knowledge, experience, and tried-and-true methods and now share their expertise and wisdom with other trial lawyers so that they can improve their own skills. This book is not simply routine checklists, but detailed explanations and techniques that should be followed to get the most out of every deposition taken. The Miller Mousetrap and the advanced deposition techniques (summarizing, boxing in, etc.) alone are worth the price and will pay for themselves as soon as they are used in a difficult deposition. The deposition skills that Miller and Scoptur teach in this book and their trial advocacy programs are presented in a clear and easy-to-use format that will show you how to get more from each and every deposition. Given that a case can be won or lost in a deposition, everyone should turn to this book during deposition preparation until it’s dog-eared with use. This book must be on every lawyer’s shelf no matter how long he or she has been practicing.
    —Carrie R. Frank, JD, MSSW

  10. Not only is this masterpiece a ‘must read’ for every lawyer in our office—it is also our law firm’s new deposition strategy bible! [This] book is user-friendly, practical, loaded with step-by-step methodologies that we can use ‘next Monday,’ and it is loaded with practical hints on how to win the deposition and win the case. Paul and Phillip have redefined ‘obstacle-ism,’ as this book is a trial advocate’s compass, guiding you through and over and under every foreseeable obstacle to be faced in key depositions!
    —John F. Romano, former president, Academy of Florida Trial Lawyers; fellow, International Academy of Trial Lawyers

  11. Among the ‘thought leaders’ at the annual AAJ Deposition Colleges, no two lawyers have helped develop the best techniques for preparing for and taking a discovery deposition more than Phillip Miller and Paul Scoptur. Their new and latest collaboration is an absolute essential for all trial lawyers and litigators. To get the best results, and put our clients’ cases in the best position to maximize settlement or verdict potential, I urge you to read and reread the many effective tools, techniques, and jury skills in their assembly of deposition weaponry. Used properly, as Phillip and Paul teach, your deps will always become a successful step to settlement or trial.
    —Tom Vesper, listed in Best Lawyers in America

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