One of my favorite things about practicing law is getting to know my clients. As a lawyer, I hope to be able to connect on a human level with the people I work for and find out what makes them tick. One opportunity for this kind of heart-to-heart is when I prepare a client for a deposition. It is an honor and a great responsibility in this line of work that people you just met will pour their heart out to you and tell you about some of their greatest struggles, obstacles, and fears in life. One of my goals in preparing the client is to confront the fear of failure and empower that person in spite of their struggles to “own their truth”. Fear of failure is something that I can relate to personally, and I think it’s something that constantly drives me to some degree in my work, but I think it allows me to connect with someone who is out of their comfort zone and afraid of the unknown.
One of the fears I often see in my clients who are unfamiliar with the legal world is that a deposition is like a trap that the other side is set for them. They are worried that they will say or do the wrong thing and that the other side will more or less jump out and shout “Gotcha!” We often base what we think we know about the process from what we see on TV, which, believe it or not, is not the same as reality.
A deposition is an opportunity to record a witness’s testimony, by video or transcript, that may be used to seek out information before a case goes to trial. One of the best things I can do for my clients simply empowers them with the confidence to confront lies and accusations by arming them with the truth. This creates an authenticity that overpowers the fear of failure that my clients experience in an unfamiliar environment, surrounded by lawyers and court reporters. We deal with many areas that the client may have been feeling guilty, whether consciously or unconsciously, about bad things that happened through no fault of their own.
Once the client is armed with the truth, the misplaced guilt evaporates and is replaced with confidence and authenticity that shines through in the deposition. This paves the way for the defense to decide that a jury trial isn’t worth it to them. This can lead to higher offers of settlement, or it can strengthen our position going forward to trial. Helping the client to overcome the fear of failure is one of the most rewarding parts of my job.