Passing the bar and becoming a lawyer is a great accomplishment. Your first year as a practicing attorney can be very stressful and at times intimidating. Luckily, most bar associations have divisions or committees dedicated to supporting young lawyers.

The primary goal of taking a deposition is to obtain information. You want to find what the witness knows, allow them to speak under oath, and preserve their testimony. That can be a difficult task if you encounter a witness who is reserved or is reluctant to answer questions. Both first time and experienced deponents can present difficulties for attorneys questioning them. Below are some strategies to consider if you find yourself questioning a witness who is not eager to participate in the deposition.

A variety of circumstances can arise that would preclude an expert witness from testifying at trial. Experts tend to get excluded in federal court for one of two reasons: either the witness disclosure does not comply with the requirements under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, or the expert fails to meet the standards for admissibility set forth in the Federal Rules of Evidence. At times, more unique circumstances arise that can prevent an expert witness from testifying. In Noffsinger v. Valspar Corp., the retained expert witness died prior to trial. No. 09 C 916, 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 203349 (N.D. Ill. Jan. 4, 2013).[1] In another case, an expert witness experienced a serious personal health crisis and could no longer testify. Dunkin’ Donuts Inc. v. N.A.S.T., No. 02 C 1272, 2005 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 16703 (N.D. Ill. Aug. 10, 2005). The expert witness in Vincent v. Omniflight Helicopters Inc., chose to withdraw when he was proven to have provided false information in his report. No. 08-C-0572, 2009 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 117966 (E.D. Wis. Nov. 24, 2009).

Hiring an attorney can be a daunting task, especially if you’re not prepared. Treat your meeting as a business consultation; dress well and be prompt. The lawyer will lead the discussion and be honest. The more frank you are, the better the matter can be assessed.

Before meeting with a lawyer, here are 5 steps to Preparing for Your First Meeting:

  1. Contact Information
  2. Chronological Summary of Events
  3. Supporting Documents
  4. List of Witnesses/Defendants
  5. Your Questions 

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