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What Is a Deposition Summary?

Deposition summaries allow legal teams to prepare for witness testimony ahead of a trial.
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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Kristen Osborne
  • Last Modified Date: 15 November 2014
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A deposition summary is a brief document going over the basic information from a deposition, testimony taken before a trial to help legal teams prepare. It provides an overview so people do not need to read the entire deposition transcript to find the key components of the testimony. Some law firms prepare their own, usually assigning the work to a paralegal or an administrative support person. Others may contract the work to a company specializing in deposition summaries.

In a deposition, an attorney can ask a number of questions. Not all of these are directly relevant, and they can be repetitive in nature, depending on the style an attorney uses. At the deposition, a clerk records the testimony, and the law firm may also use video and tape recording. The end result is a very large volume of data, all of which can be useful. Having a deposition summary as a shortcut to the key points may be important for people preparing for trial, as it can help them decide on trial strategies like who to call as a witness and what kinds of questions to ask.

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Preparing a deposition summary requires going over the testimony, taking ample notes on the substance of the deposition, and thinking about the most important information that comes up. Many law firms have a standard template they want people to use to convey basic information, including the date and time of the deposition, and who was present. The person preparing the document may break it into a series of headings covering specific topics, and can include a table of contents so people can reference the direct testimony while they read. Two to four pages is a common length.

In a deposition summary, people tell the reader what happened during the deposition. They use their own words, although they can add citations to back up their claims. Extraneous and repetitive aspects of the deposition are not a part of the summary, as the goal is to cut to the core of the testimony. People may think about the information they would find most relevant and useful when working on a case of this nature. This can help them determine what to include and what to leave out.

A second party may review the testimony and the deposition summary for accuracy. People want to make sure the testimony is represented accurately and appropriately in the summary, and they also look for holes in the content. Since people may rely on the summary for making legal decisions, it is important to avoid leaving information out in the interests of brevity.

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