"You mean, this is your first deposition?"
The preparation phase that precedes the trial of a civil case consists of a discovery period, when attorneys present to each other written questions, or interrogatories, about the case. The legal counsels for each side also share lists of prospective witnesses who will appear in court. When expert witnesses are involved, the attorneys indicate which issues of the case the expert will address, and they have the right to subpoena all records related to the case.
In many instances, the opposing attorney is satisfied to receive a copy of the psychotherapist's treatment reports. Often, however, the opposing counsel obtains a court order by way of subpoena to query witnesses in an oral deposition, which is testimony taken under oath and transcribed by a certified court reporter. Typically, the opposing counsel will conduct a 1- to 2-hour deposition in the expert's office, with the attorney who represents the plaintiff or who is retaining the expert also being present. The main purpose of the deposition is to ascertain what the expert's opinions are and the bases for those opinions.
The attorney who represents the plaintiff or who is retaining the expert usually meets with the clinician before the deposition, to discuss potential issues in the case and to have a clear understanding of the major conclusions reached by the expert witness. If the attorney does not call to meet with you before the deposition, it is wise for you to schedule a predeposition meeting with the attorney to discuss the anticipated testimony.
The deposition is conducted with some of the courtlike formalities, beginning with a swearing in of the witness by the court reporter. As in the courtroom, testifying begins with the witness' professional qualifications being established,