What a Paralegal Can Do During a Deposition
- Prepare Witnesses
- Research Issues
- Find Related Cases
- Prepare Documents
- Dispute Testimony
A paralegal can assist a lawyer in a number of different ways, but there are only a few ways paralegals assist with depositions. A deposition is a legal term that refers to the process of taking evidence from an individual. It usually occurs before a trial because it gives the lawyer time to gather that evidence and present it in court. Some cases may allow for lawyers to take depositions up through the early days of the trial. Paralegals and students who want to work as paralegals can get an idea of how they can help during this process.
Related resource: 50 Most Affordable Online Paralegal Degree Programs
1. Prepare Witnesses
One of the main jobs paralegals can assist with involves the preparation of witnesses. Many of the people called in a deposition have little to no courtroom experience. The paralegal is responsible for explaining why the lawyer called that person forward and what the individual will need to do. They can explain why the deposition occurs in the office or outside of the court and why the person may need to appear in court later. Paralegals can help witnesses stay calm leading up to the deposition too.
2. Research Issues
Depositions typically occur in civil cases. A paralegal will look at the case and work with the lawyer to determine the issues at hand. He or she will then research those issues and find information that the lawyer can bring into the deposition. Paralegals may also help find evidence that disputes some of the information shared by the witness such as prior involvement in a similar case.
3. Find Related Cases
The research stage prior to the deposition can last for weeks up to several months or longer. One of the duties of a paralegal involves finding related and similar cases. Those cases can apply during the deposition and once the case goes to court. Paralegals can use the resources available in the law firm and resources available at local law libraries. They will make copies and write short descriptions to show lawyers what they found.
4. Prepare Documents
Paralegals often do a lot of research and prep work prior to a case. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, they receive good compensation for their work and a median salary of more than $50,000 a year. One of the prep duties they have in regards to depositions is the preparation of legal documents. They will create a list of questions that the lawyer can ask and create documents that show the evidence already collected. Paralegals may create exhibits that lawyers will use to show where the witnesses were during the event. Those exhibits can feature other types of evidence.
5. Dispute Testimony
In some legal cases, paralegals are responsible for helping a lawyer dispute the testimony given by a witness. A witness might claim that he or she saw someone committing a crime on a specific date when the legal team has proof that the witness was in a different city at the time. They will pass the evidence and research they gathered to the lawyer and let the professional bring up that evidence during the deposition.
The deposition allows both the defense and the prosecution to interview witnesses and gather evidence that they’ll use in court at a later date. It is one of the most important stages in the legal process and can occur in both civil and criminal trials. Some of the ways paralegals assist with depositions include preparing documents and getting witnesses ready.