At a recent conference, I heard a prominent plaintiffs' lawyer say that he always does depositions over the telephone. Reason: telephone depositions are more time-efficient and less costly.
That's sound logic, I suppose. His advice even extended to expert depositions, but for a different reason. When you confront an expert in a deposition face-to-face, the expert might become comfortable with you and your style, thereby making your cross-examination at trial less effective. This problem with over-familiarity is less likely to occur if the expert gets to know you only by telephone.
I can't say I was convinced. I just don't like telephone depositions. Documents are a problem, you don't know whether the opposing lawyer is signaling to the witness, it makes it seem like you are disengaged from the case.
Am I wrong? Maybe. Telephone deposition remain popular with some lawyers. And in the recognition that there are many ways to skin a cat, I offer the following links--
- Getting the Most Out of Telephonic Depositions, from Depo.com, which lists problems that arise in telephone depositions from a court reporter's perspective;
- FRCP 30, which has a sub-section about telephone depositions and states that for purposes of other rules, the deposition takes place where the witness is located;
- "Hello? Is Everyone There?" -- an article about telephone depositions in New York;
- Last, from this weblog, there's my post, "Agree to Telephone Depositions," with advice for what to do if the tables are turned and the other lawyer is asking you to allow a deposition by telephone.
In the end, it's something you'll have to decide for yourself. Telephone depositions: yes or no?