How to stay awake during a boring deposition

Sometimes the hardest thing to do in a deposition – is stay awake.

Give me an obnoxious opposing counsel or difficult witness any time. At least the deposition will be lively and fun.

Today, ten of us are in my firm’s conference room. The videographer is at one end of the conference table. At the other sits the witness. In back of him is a neutral screen. It blocks out the angels frolicking on the old antique sideboard that usually dominates that end of the room. The camera is pinned on his face. He will become the ultimate talking head. A jury will hear but never see the rest of us.

A doctor is being questioned by the defense on videotape. They are trying to impeach him. Or to find any dirt they can to use against my client.

The main defense attorney today is very business-like. He is wearing black laced shoes, buffed so there are no scuff marks. Black socks. Dark grey pinstripe suit. Four buttons on each cuff. A purple tie with blue diamonds and hash marks. A little microphone is clipped onto it. White shirt hugs his neck too tight. Can’t see the top of his collar as his chin hangs over it.

He is armed with a prepared detailed outline of questions. He has a plastic blue pen in his right hand that he plays with. He touches it to the paper with the questions. But doesn’t write anything down. He goes through the outline. Question by question. In a measured monotone. He looks over his spectacles as the soft spoken witness gives each answer.

The lawyer to my right is most likely sleeping. His eyes are closed and his shoulder just twitched. Actually it twitched so hard that it woke him up. He definitely was sleeping. Don’t blame him.

An hour passes. I manage to avoid passing out. The defense lawyers are now exchanging microphones so the next one can ask questions.

The second attorney is usually the one who goes first. He’s letting the other defense lawyers take first whack at some of the less important witnesses in the case. His shoes are identical to number one. Same black socks too. But he’s wearing chinos and a light pink shirt. His cashmere jacket is hanging off the back of his chair. And his specs are GQ appropriate. He’s wearing a tie but can’t tell what it looks like because am sitting next to but slightly behind him. Don’t feel like being elbow to elbow.

He asks questions that jab and insinuate. He’s wiley and obnoxious. Half an hour passes in a swirl of objections and all the stuff that gets the blood flowing nicely. Bless his soul.

Here are tips on how to stay awake during a boring deposition.

  • Fill glass with liquid, sip til done, refill, repeat
  • Sit facing window and look for anything that moves
  • Do not rest head on hands
  • Do not close eyes
  • Do not think of closing eyes
  • Do not let eyes close
  • Pinch side of thigh
  • Apply hand lotion
  • Read the exhibits
  • Mark up the exhibits
  • Apply lipstick
  • There's a reason why lawyers drink coffee. If you don't drink coffee (like me) then keep reading this list
  • Do isometrics with shoulder blades
  • Wiggle toes
  • Send an internal email asking staff to turn up the air conditioner
  • Volunteer to make photocopies of exhibits
  • Hold breath and count to ten or longer
  • Dress in layers so you can take off jacket, sweater or whatever in order to get as cold as possible.
  • Write down questions you may or may not ask
  • Write down questions you wish the other lawyer would ask
  • If notice eyes are not open and mouth has gone slack.....WAKE UP!