Most law firms use depo summaries instead of lengthy transcripts to help them during pre-trial preparation. Depo summaries are condensed versions of the original deposition transcript which provide a synopsis of the overall theme. Lawyers often rely on these summaries as they are much more convenient than filtering through hundreds of pages.
If you’ve been tasked to summarize a deposition transcript, following the steps below can help you prepare depo summaries that will impress fellow legal professionals.
Read the Deposition
Carefully reading through the entire deposition can help you identify which details are essential to the case. Although this is a time-consuming process, you will gain a clearer understanding of the case, allowing you to accurately distinguish relevant statements from irrelevant comments. Once you’ve figured out what the complaint is about, you can quickly spot allegations and facts.
Exclude Insignificant Information
Depo summaries are called summaries for a reason. They are supposed to contain only relevant information that may be useful for the lawyer. When preparing depo summaries, highlight crucial statements that your legal firm can use during the trial. Other details of little importance should be excluded.
A deposition summary is supposed to be concise and clear so that lawyers can immediately get information without wasting time. Depo summaries need to get to the point — no fancy words or lengthy introductions are needed. Words should be kept at a minimum as long as the point is communicated without losing value.
Deposition summaries involve condensing the testimony into brief statements. It is crucial to be as precise as possible, as inaccurate depo summaries can reduce or increase the crime charged.
For example, if the witness said in the transcription “The driver did an overtake, but suddenly a biker came out of nowhere, so he hit him” and your depo summary states “The driver hit the biker,” it would suggest that the driver intentionally hit the biker when that wasn’t the actual case.
Follow a Consistent Format
Each legal firm has its preferred method for summarizing depositions. The standard format is “Page-Line” wherein the summary is presented in two columns: the wider right column for the testimony, and the narrow left column for the corresponding line and page number. You may want to organize the depo summary into subsections, where each section contains interrogations or examinations conducted by a specific attorney.
By carefully paying attention to the case and all of its pertinent facts, you can summarize a deposition that can help the legal firm prepare for trial more efficiently and effectively.