How to Excel at Your Expert Witness Deposition is SEAK’s most intensive deposition training seminar. It is designed to help expert witnesses to markedly improve their deposition skills. How to Excel at Your Expert Witness Deposition is fast moving and content rich. The course is taught using five methodologies: lecture, interactive exercises, videos of experts testifying in real cases, mock deposition demonstrations, and questions and answers. This is a hands on course. All attendees will have the opportunity to practice their deposition skills through in class exercises and to receive feedback from the faculty. This course will only be offered once in 2017.
September 16-17, 2017, The Sea Crest Beach Hotel, Falmouth, Cape Cod, Massachusetts
Click here for a PDF of the conference brochure
LOCATION/HOTEL ACCOMMODATIONS: A limited block of rooms will be available at special rates at the site hotel, The Sea Crest Beach Hotel (Single/Double $175). To make your reservations please call 1-800- 225-3110 and mention that you are with SEAK Training or click here. Rooms are limited and this rate expires on August 23, 2017 so you are strongly encouraged to make your reservations as soon as possible.
REGISTRATION INFORMATION: Tuition is $1295 until July 15, 2017; $1395 July 16, 2017–August 23, 2017; $1495 after August 23, 2017. Register early and save!
GROUP DISCOUNTS: Group discounts are available for two or more persons registering from the same organization. Discount prices depend on the size of the group. Our programs can also be brought on site to your organization. Please call 508-457-1111.
CANCELLATIONS: Conference cancellations received in writing on or prior to August 23, 2017 will receive a full tuition refund. Persons cancelling after August 23, 2017 will receive a full tuition credit.
After completing this interactive training you will be able to:
•Demonstrate improved active listening skills.
• Deliver powerful, bullet point responses.
• Answer questions truthfully while leaving yourself some flexibility.
• Employ numerous proven strategies to excel at deposition.
• Recognize and defeat opposing counsel’s tactics.
• Excel at answering trick questions.
• Articulately answer questions regarding your qualifications, fees, biases, opinions, methodology, and report.
• Effectively deal with skeletons in your closet.
• Better handle abusive questioning.
• Prepare an individualized protocol to excel at expert witness depositions.
Continuing Education Credits: If your specialty does not appear below and you desire credits, please contact Karen Cerbarano (Karen@seak.com or 781-826-4974). We can often obtain desired credits upon request, but unfortunately, obtaining some types of credits are not feasible. Please register early, as we can only apply for credits after your registration form has been received and it can take time to get the requested approvals back from the accrediting agencies.
Accident Reconstructionists: SEAK will apply for credits through ACTAR upon written request at the time of registration. Accountants: Earn 16.5 CPE credits in the field of study of Specialized Knowledge and Applications. SEAK, Inc. is registered with the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA) as a sponsor of continuing professional education on the National Registry of CPE Sponsors. State boards of accountancy have final authority on the acceptance of individual courses for CPE credit. Complaints regarding registered sponsors may be addressed to the National Registry of CPE Sponsors through its website: www.learningmarket.org. For SEAK’s complaint and program cancellation policies please call SEAK, Inc. at 508-457-1111. All attendees should have the education and experience that would qualify them as an expert witness. This is an advanced group-live program. Advanced Preparation: None. This program was reviewed in December 2016. To register, please follow the instructions on page 2. Appraisers: Credits from The American Society of Appraisers will be applied for on written request at the time of registration. Arborists: SEAK will apply for Continuing Education hours through The International Society of Arboriculture (ISA) on written request at time of registration. Attorneys: Credit varies by state. Continuing legal education credits for attorneys will be applied for if requested in writing at the time of registration. Engineers: 14 PDHs. The acceptance of this course is dependent upon your state(s) of registration. The vast majority of states do not require preapproval of either courses or course sponsors. Life Care Planners: SEAK will apply for credits through The Commission on Health Care Certification (CHCC) upon written request at the time of registration. Physicians: SEAK, Inc. is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education to provide continuing medical education for physicians. SEAK, Inc. designates this live activity for a maximum of 14 AMA PRA Category 1 Credit(s)TM. Physicians should claim only the credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity.
NOTE: SEAK does not accept commercial support for its programs and does not use faculty members with conflicts of interest.
Steven Babitsky, Esq. is the President and founder of SEAK, Inc., the Expert Witness Training Company. He was a personal injury trial attorney for twenty years and is the former managing partner of the firm Kistin, Babitsky, Latimer & Beitman. Steve has helped expert witnesses and their attorneys prepare for deposition in a broad range of cases, including antitrust, patent, medical malpractice, wrongful death, computer forensics, and many others. He has trained the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Federal Aviation Administration, and he has worked with numerous forensic and financial companies including Fortune 500 companies and has worked with numerous experts to help them expand and grow their practices. Mr. Babitsky is the co-author of the texts How to Be an Effective Expert Witness at Deposition and Trial: The SEAK Guide to Testifying as an Expert Witness, How to Be a Successful Expert Witness: SEAK’s A–Z Guide to Expert Witnessing, How to Write an Expert Witness Report, and How to Market Your Expert Witness Practice Evidence-Based Practices. Attorney Babitsky is the co-developer and trainer for the “How to Be an Effective Expert Witness” seminar and has been the seminar leader since 1990 for the Annual National Expert Witness and Litigation Conference. Mr. Babitsky trains hundreds of experts every year. He may be contacted at 508-548-9443 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
DAY ONE, Saturday, September 16, 2017
7:30 – 8:00 Registration and Continental Breakfast with Faculty
PART I: LAW, STRATEGY & SKILLS
8:00 – 8:45 Law and Procedure
Attendees will learn the key legal principles and rules which govern depositions including what questions can be asked, the legal basis and limits of “fishing expeditions,” applicability and limits of claims of privilege, meaning and effect of “off the record,” meaning and effect of “the standard stipulations,” discoverability of expert-retaining counsel communication, time limits, limitations on questioning because of abusive intent, harassment, or undue burden, admissibility of deposition questions at trial, reading and signing, and protective orders. Questions and Answers Learning Objective: Explain the law and procedure governing expert witness depositions.
8:45 – 9:30 Understanding Opposing Counsel’s Strategies and Goals
Excelling at deposition requires an appreciation of opposing counsel’s likely strategies. Attendees will learn why opposing counsel will likely ask open ended questions and may interrogate the witness in a non-confrontational manner designed to keep the witness talking. Attendees will also learn the numerous likely goals of retaining counsel and will be provided with suggestions for dealing with each of these. These likely goals include learning the expert’s opinions, learning the expert’s qualifications, locking down the expert, sizing up the expert as a witness, probing for bias, discovering the expert’s factual assumptions, gathering as much information as possible, using the expert to help his own case, intimidating the expert, learning what the expert did, and setting the stage to later get the expert or the expert’s opinion excluded. In addition, the faculty will discuss the strategies of retaining counsel at deposition including objections and questioning of their own expert. Questions and Answers Learning Objective: List the strategies and goals of opposing counsel.
9:30 – 10:15 How to Improve Your Active Listening Skills
Excelling at deposition requires superior active listening skills. Deponents should be able to recognize and recall every word of a question and should be able to repeat back questions asked of them verbatim. In this segment attendees will be shown how to improve their active listening skills using techniques such as picturing the question as if it were written on a white board. The group will conduct interactive exercises to assess, practice and improve their active listening skills. Questions and Answers Learning Objective: Describe techniques for improving active listening.
10:15 – 10:30 Break (Networking Opportunity)
10:30 – 11:15 How to Leave Yourself Wiggle Room
A fundamental technique for truthfully and artfully answering deposition questions is to do so in a manner, where appropriate, that does not leave the witness 100% boxed in and locked down. In this segment attendees will learn how to recognize and truthfully respond to lock down questions in a way that leaves the expert some flexibility, but does not make the expert sound evasive or defensive. The group will conduct interactive exercises to assess, practice and improve their responses to lock down questions. Questions and Answers Learning Objective: List techniques for recognizing and truthfully and artfully answering lock down questions.
11:15 – 12:00 Deposition Strategies for Expert Witnesses
Attendees will learn forty-seven techniques for excelling at their deposition. These include telling the whole truth, listening carefully to objections, insisting on finishing answers, not exaggerating, speculating, or guessing, avoiding arguing, not showing weakness, following a question answering protocol, staying calm, avoiding absolute words, avoiding rambling by putting a period on the answer, recognition of unintelligible questions, breaking counsel’s momentum, staying in your sandbox, using time limits to your advantage, and encouraging opposing counsel to lose his cool. Many of these techniques will be demonstrated by short videos and interactive exercises. Questions and Answers Learning Objective: List techniques for excelling at your deposition.
12:00 – 12:45 Lunch (Provided with Faculty)
12:45 – 1:30 Deposition Strategies for Expert Witnesses (Continued)
PART II: CORE AREAS OF INQUIRY
1:30 – 2:30 Qualifications
Expert witnesses should expect probing questions regarding why specifically they are qualified to opine in the case. Failure to excel in this area can lead to the expert being excluded from testifying – which can be a career ending event. Attendees will learn techniques for answering expected questions about their qualifications. Issues covered include articulating relevant experience and education and how these apply to the case at hand, dealing with missing or sub optimum levels of experience or credentials, CV issues, “have you ever done?” questions, number of similar cases, and recognizing what you are not an expert in. Many of these lines of inquiry will be demonstrated by short videos and will be practiced by the attendees through interactive exercises. Questions and Answers Learning Objective: Describe techniques for answering qualifications questions.
2:30 – 3:15 Bias and Fees
The more opposing counsel can establish an expert as being biased, the less believable that expert will be. Attendees will learn techniques for answering expected questions about their bias and fees. Issues covered include fee questions, plaintiff v. defendant issues, long held beliefs, billings to date, bills, prior writings, prior testimony, association with outside groups, political beliefs, opinion always the same in every case, influence of retaining counsel, and percentage of income questions. Many of these lines of inquiry will be demonstrated by short videos and will be practiced by the attendees through interactive exercises. Questions and Answers Learning Objective: Explain methods for answering bias and fees questions.
3:15 – 3:30 Break (Networking Opportunity)
3:30 – 5:00 Opinions
Expert witnesses are retained to provide opinions and must be able to articulate these opinions persuasively at deposition. Attendees will learn techniques for answering expected questions about their opinions. Issues covered include what the expert will and will not be testifying to, degree of flexibility in opinions, areas of agreement with opposing expert, new/additional opinions, degree of certainty, and rationale for opinions. Many of these lines of inquiry will be demonstrated by short videos and will be practiced by the attendees through interactive exercises. Questions and Answers Learning Objective: Describe strategies for responding to questions about your opinions.
DAY TWO, Sunday, September 17, 2017
6:30 – 7:00 Continental Breakfast with Faculty
7:00 – 7:45 Methodology
Opposing counsel may use the deposition to set the expert witness up for a later motion to exclude under Daubert. If the expert is so excluded this can often be a career ending occurrence. Attendees will learn techniques for answering expected questions about their methodology. Issues covered include how the expert’s theory was tested, where the theory was subjected to peer review and publication, known or potential error rate, standards and controls, general acceptance in field, evidence of level of care, why extrapolation was justified, alternative explanations, and basis of research. Many of these lines of inquiry will be demonstrated by short videos and will be practiced by the attendees through interactive exercises. Questions and Answers Learning Objective: Explain techniques to protect yourself from being set up for a Daubert challenge.
7:45 – 8:15 Your Expert Witness Report
In many if not most cases an expert witness will have submitted a written report prior to deposition. The expert witness’s report will often raise numerous potential issues at deposition. Attendees will learn techniques for answering expected questions about their reports. Issues covered include who helped write the report, drafts/preliminary reports, research, footnotes or lack thereof, and mistakes/typos. Many of these lines of inquiry will be demonstrated by short videos and will be practiced by the attendees through interactive exercises. Questions and Answers Learning Objective: Describe strategies for answering questions about your report.
8:15 – 9:00 Facts/Bases of Opinions
An expert witness’s opinions are only as strong as what these opinions are based on. Expert witnesses can expect to be questioned closely regarding the bases of their opinions. Attendees will learn techniques for answering expected questions about the basis of their opinions. Issues covered include key facts of the case, assumptions, documentation, existence and extent of firsthand inspection, what was not done, cherry picking, interviews, veracity judgments, investigation, reliance on staff and/or other experts, timeline, and hypothetical questions. Many of these lines of inquiry will be demonstrated by short videos and will be practiced by the attendees through interactive exercises. Questions and Answers Learning Objective: List the key facts that you will likely be asked about at deposition.
9:00 – 9:15 Break (Networking Opportunity)
9:15 – 9:45 Opposing Expert
An expert witness can expect numerous questions concerning the opposing expert and the opposing expert’s opinions. Attendees will learn techniques for answering expected questions about opposing experts. Issues covered include qualifications, methodology, areas of agreement, and reasons for disagreement. Many of these lines of inquiry will be demonstrated by short videos and will be practiced by the attendees through interactive exercises. Questions and Answers Learning Objective: List techniques for responding to questions about opposing expert and opposing expert’s opinions.
PART III: SPECIAL SITUATIONS
9:45 – 10:15 Giving a Deposition in a Case Where You Didn’t Write a Report
It is becoming increasingly common for expert witnesses in state courts to be asked not to write a report. In this segment the faculty will offer practical advice regarding resulting issues such as, how to prepare for a deposition where you did not write a report, discussing with retaining counsel potentially drafting a simple list of opinions with reasons, and special techniques to prepare for a deposition in cases where a report was not written. Questions and Answers Learning Objective: Discuss options to excel at depositions in cases where no report was written.
10:15 – 10:45 Dealing with Skeletons in Your Closet
Some experts are concerned about being asked about things in their past that they rather not talk about. In many cases questions in this area may be inappropriate. In further instances, questions about skeletons in the closet may be permissible at deposition, but would probably not be admissible at trial. In this segment the faculty will explain what is and is not likely to be a problem and how to deal with common issues such as being sued, disciplinary problems, being terminated, failing tests, mediocre or worse grades, health issues, private life, divorces, bankruptcy, arrests, convictions, etc. Each attendee will be afforded the opportunity to anonymously submit to the faculty for review, comment, and advice any issues which they may be concerned with in their own backgrounds. Questions and Answers Learning Objective: Explain techniques for dealing with skeletons in your closet.
10:45 – 11:00 Break (Networking Opportunity)
11:00 – 11:30 Abusive Questioning
Experts may at some point experience questioning that is abusive and beyond the scope of what is legally permissible. Faculty will review the legal rules dealing with abusive questioning and provide practical advice for determining what is and is not abuse and how to deal with abusive questioning. Questions and Answers Learning Objective: Describe strategies for dealing with abusive questioning.
11:30 – 12:00 Video Depositions
More and more expert witness depositions are recorded on video. These video depositions present additional challenges for the expert. In this segment the faculty will provide suggestions for excelling during a deposition that is recorded on video. Demonstrations will be conducted to provide feedback to how attendees look while being deposed. In addition, the attendees will be shown video clips of actual depositions to exemplify the issues that can occur with video depositions. Questions and Answers Learning Objective: Describe strategies for excelling during video depositions.
12:00 – 12:45 Lunch (Provided with Faculty)
PART IV: TACTICS AND DEFENSES
12:45 – 1:30 Recognizing and Defeating Opposing Counsel’s Deposition Tactics
The faculty will explain numerous tactics that opposing counsel may use against the expert. Many of these tactics will be demonstrated by showing videos of actual depositions or by interactive exercises using volunteer attendees. The faculty will provide suggestions for dealing with each of the tactics. Tactics covered include going for the jugular off the bat, wearing the deponent down, intimidation, fishing for contradictions, catchalls, magic words, hypotheticals, mischaracterizations, and authoritative treatises. Questions and Answers Learning Objective: Identify opposing counsel’s deposition tactics and explain strategies for defeating each tactic.
1:30 – 2:00 Trick and Difficult Questions
The faculty will demonstrate, utilizing questions submitted by the attendees, numerous trick and difficult questions. The goal is to practice the techniques learned in the class such as active listening, refusal to be 100% locked down, and defeating counsel’s tactics. The answers provided by volunteer attendees will be critiqued and possible better answers will be provided. Questions and Answers Learning Objective: Describe a protocol for answering trick and difficult deposition questions.
PART V: PREPARATION
2:00 – 2:30 Expert Witness Deposition Preparation Protocol
Success at deposition is far more a function of preparation, rather than inspiration. In this segment the faculty will provide suggestions for how to develop a protocol for proper preparations. Issues covered include, identifying issues of potential vulnerability, what to ask retaining counsel to do to prepare you, dealing with a refusal by retaining counsel to prepare you, getting your facts and files in order, how to review your file, what to know cold, and preparing headline-bullet point responses to key anticipated questions. Questions and Answers Learning Objective: Explain a protocol for diligently preparing for an expert witness deposition.
What past attendees had to say:
“I want to thank you for the great course on "How to Excel at Your Expert Witness Deposition" on 11/12-13 in Naples. I appreciated how hard you worked to keep the course interesting and fast moving, and with lots of useful, practical tips on how to excel at depositions. Excellent course. I just finished reading thru the booklet you handed out, and find it to be a terrific resource. I boiled it down to about 10 pages of key points that I will review before every depo I give in the future. Keep up the excellent work and look forward to participating in a SEAK course in the future. I've taken 3 so far, and all have been excellent.”
“Jim, I really learned a great deal. You helped me with nuances that I could never have imagined. Your style of teaching puts the right edge on each of us to expose us to the rituals. I liked your expressions ‘christian and lions...telephone is best friend...no adult supervision...’ I look forward to taking expert testimony courses from SEAK in the future.”
“The depo training was superb; you are a very good teacher, Jim. Take it from a former medical professor and invited-to-be-a law professor.”
“Thank you for what you do and thank you for helping me be the best that I can be as an expert witness.”
“Jim, This was an excellent seminar. Extremely well organized and engaging presentation. I learned a great deal, but specifically came away knowing that I NEVER want to be deposed by you!!”
“ Jim is an excellent instructor. Great command of the subject.”
“Excellent, intense but lighthearted”
“Instructor extremely knowledgeable and very slick. I hope I am never deposed by Mr. Mangraviti.”
“Very informative and educational”
“Very informative and relevant”
“Very knowledgeable, lots of information, real life simulations”
“Excellent – very well taught by being interactive and using effective videos to illustrate a point.”
“Great work. I appreciated Jim’s earnest and honest effort. I truly felt that Jim was interested in my success.”
“One of the best presenters I’ve met since moving to USA”
“I am grateful to Jim to help make me the best I can be.”
“Excellent presentation, very realistic”
“Very effective teaching method”
“Dear Jim, Thank you for an amazing two days of teaching over the weekend, as well as the great conference arrangement's and Nancy's warm, helpful touch. I will be calling your office this week to find a time I can schedule a follow up consultation with you or a colleague.”
“Jim, As I stated to you, your weekend course was FANTASTIC! I had a wonderful time, learned a bunch of important stuff and your presentation was awesome! THANK YOU for sharing your knowledge!”
“Jim, The powerful presentation coupled with your unique personality made the experience both incredibly professionally beneficial an lots of fun at others expense, thankfully not mine on this go round. I look forward to my next seminar and hope to put my new skills learned in Naples to use as soon as possible.”
“Jim, It was definitely worth it. My two really big take aways were: 1. I have been severely undervaluing my services as an expert witness, and 2. I have a completely different appreciation of the impact I can have on a case during deposition. Thank you for your insights…oh yeah, and LISTEN!!!”
“Jim, Your teaching skills are fun, captivating, and very impressive. I so much enjoyed being with you and honing further my deposition skills.”
“Dear Jim: I found the course to be educational and entertaining in equal measure. And as a pleasant side effect, I met so many other interesting people in diverse fields!”
“Jim, Thank YOU. Your class was great. I wished I had this level of training 23 years ago. It would have been extremely helpful in my career. But, now is the time. God willing, I'll see you in January.”
“Jim is very effective.”
“Excellent. Material 100% pertinent to success I have with daily depositions.”
“Fantastic! Sharpened my skills. Learned what to watch for.”
“Very lively, challenging and pragmatic.”
“Loved it! Jim did a great job and is one of the best teachers I’ve ever had.”
“Jim was terrific, the material was great.”
“A+ no flaws, enjoy hearing from others’ experience.”
“Accurate, informative, engaging, fun, stimulating.”
“Keep up the great work! I really appreciate the way that you make each participant feel like you have gotten to know them and their forensic practice personally. Also, you involve everyone.”
“Great job! Entertaining and educational.”
“Jim was awesome.”
“Nice Job. Polished presentation skills. In last 15 years have taught over 10k people and it’s fun to watch Jim perform his craft (respectful, professional, alert, works the room, well spoken).”
“Jim is one of the most enjoyable presenters I have ever had the pleasure to listen to.”