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 & 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.
Opal Sands Resort, Clearwater Beach, FL, Thursday-Friday, April 21-22, 2022
Click here for the full conference brochure and details (pdf)
Registration Information/Discounts: Tuition for each course is $1,295 on or before February 20, 2022, $1,395 February 21, 2022–March 20, 2022; $1,495 after March 20, 2022. Your tuition includes continental breakfast and lunch with faculty each day and a detailed conference manual. 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 onsite to your organization. Please call 508-457-1111. A special 50% discount is available on all new and renewal standard listings in the SEAK Expert Witness Directory placed by attendees while at the seminar.
Location/Hotel Accommodations: The 2022 SEAK Expert Witness Conference will be held at the Opal Sands Resort, Clearwater Beach, FL. The Opal Sands Resort offers guests ultra-modern Gulf front accommodations on the Gulf of Mexico, right on Clearwater Beach’s lively promenade. SEAK has secured a special group rate of $224/night. Rooms are limited and this rate expires on March 20, 2022. To make your reservations, please click here, or call 1-855-335-1087 and refer to the SEAK Group rate and National Expert Witness Conference.
Conference Cancellations: Conference cancellations received in writing on or before March 20, 2022 will receive a full refund. Conference cancellations received after March 20, 2022 will receive a full tuition credit.
Continuing Education Credits: Note: If your specialty does not appear below and you desire credits, please contact Karen Cerbarano (781-826-4974 or Karen@seak.com). 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: State boards of accountancy have final authority on the acceptance of individual courses for CPE credit. SEAK will provide each attendee with a certificate of attendance. 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.
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.
James J. Mangraviti, Jr., Esq. has trained thousands of expert witnesses through seminars, conferences, corporate training, training for professional societies, one-on-one training/mentoring, and training for governmental agencies including the FBI, IRS, NYPD, SEC, Secret Service, and Department of Defense. He currently serves as Principal of The Expert Witness Training Company SEAK, Inc. (www.testifyingtraining.com). Jim is the co-author of thirty books, including: How to Be an Effective Expert Witness at Deposition and Trial; How to Be a Successful Expert Witness: SEAK’s A–Z Guide to Expert Witnessing; and How to Write an Expert Witness Report. Jim can be reached at 978-276-1234 or email@example.com.
Day One (Thursday, April 21, 2022)
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)ART II: CORE AREAS OF INQUIRY
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)
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 (Friday, April 22, 2022)
6:30–7:00 Continental Breakfast with Faculty
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 have to say:
"Very lively, challenging and pragmatic.”
“ Jim is an excellent instructor. Great command of the subject.”
“Absolutely great seminar. A pleasure to meet you. Learned quite a bit (even after having been deposed > 600 times over 35 years).”
“An exceptional class. Thanks to you and your staff for a great experience and valuable resources that were well worth the time and effort.”
“As a newer expert witness this was a huge eye opener and very valuable in information.”
“Excellent – very well taught by being interactive and using effective videos to illustrate a point.”
“Excellent job! Thank you for sharing your experience and skill with us.”
“Excellent presentation, very realistic”
“Excellent presenter. Engaged the audience and kept everyone interested.”
“Excellent speaker and very knowledgeable”
“Excellent, intense but lighthearted”
“Fantastic – “everything you should know about depos but were afraid to ask”
“Fantastic course. It was great to see the good and bad examples. Thanks!”
“Great seminar. Thank you so much!”
“Great [instructor], amazing commitment/dedication”
“Great job-outstanding instructor, good use of class participation.”
“Great work. I appreciated Jim’s earnest and honest effort. I truly felt that Jim was interested in my success.”
“Greatly appreciate this teacher. Very responsive to questions and flexible with schedule and yet moved through the agenda on time. Masterful. Greatly appreciate sense of humor. Hilarious!”
“Had I left after [only] 30 minutes what I took away would have justified the tuition.”
“I am grateful to Jim to help make me the best I can be.”
“I believe the interactive nature of the seminar was excellent! I really enjoyed it and I am sure it really helped all the attendees.”
“I feel well prepared to be deposed and how to prepare without good support from the client “
“I have never in my life paid to go to a seminar and absolutely believe I got my money's worth and more through the training.”
“I learned too much to list. I learned enough by 9:30 the first day that would have prevented my disaster at my first depo several months ago.”
“I really enjoyed the training program on Depositions this past weekend in San Diego. [It] was excellent and well worth the time and money. I found the combination of role playing, video presentations, and a well written workbook to be the perfect combination for learning to excel as an expert witness."
“I thoroughly enjoyed the two days I spent attending "How to Excel at Your Expert Witness Deposition." I consider myself to be extremely lucky that my schedule broke free at the last minute and I was able to attend. Your training class was fantastic.”
“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.”
“I was impressed with your command of many different subject areas which allowed you to probe that subject in depth, whether medical, construction, police, etc. And even religion; you used the right vernacular when probing my potential religious bias. Not only am I more confident in my abilities for expert witness work but I learned some new potential problem areas and how to deal with them. Thanks again to you and your crew.”
“Instruction not available from other sources.”
“It was a pleasure for me to be part of such an outstanding course. It was a great learning experience.”
“It was highly informative, I learned a lot, phenomenal.”
“It was terrific – as usual!”
“Jim is awesome. He’s funny and quick at the draw!”
“Jim was terrific, the material was great.”
“Jim, Best conference I have attended. Really respect your style, the substance of the program and how you demonstrated dep questions/answers through interactions and not just lecture. Thank you very much for an A+ rated experience.”
“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.”
“Jim, you were great! I wish I would have taken your course when I first started out testifying 34 years ago…Thanks again!”
“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!!”
“Loved every aspect of this seminar. Wish I would have known ‘then’ what I have learned with this seminar.”
“Loved it! Jim did a great job and is one of the best teachers I’ve ever had.”
“One of the best presenters I’ve met since moving to USA”
“One of the best professional seminars I have ever taken. I just wish I had taken it 10 years earlier.”
“Provides great skill and strategies to engage in high level conversations/deposition skills.”
“Thank you for what you do and thank you for helping me be the best that I can be as an expert witness.”
“Thank you, Jim! I got so much out of the class and have already seen an impact”
“Thank you so much! This was an awesome course!!!”
“Thank you! Fabulous course! Learned a lot!”
“Thank I enjoyed the course, and the input from the different careers.”
“The course experience was great and I will recommend it to my colleagues, as well as the neurology residents I teach. I came home Sunday night and made revisions on a report in progress incorporating your suggestions.”
“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.”
“The format was perfect.”
“The interactive process challenging the individuals to “role play” [was] so very helpful. I wish my attorney/counsel would have prepped me in this way.”
“The interactive process Jim uses is great!”
“The SEAK training was excellent and Jim was very informative and entertaining-the days flew right by-as a trainer myself I appreciate the value delivered for the time and money spent.”
“This was a really excellent seminar. Mr. Mangraviti was excellent! He really delivers.”
“This was my 3rd SEAK seminar, it’s incredible. Every expert needs this course.”
“This was very helpful. Thank you for helping us laugh at ourselves and learn from our mistakes/bad answers.”
“Very effective teaching method”
“Very engaging, funny and comprehensive, thanks!”
“Very helpful, but also quite challenging…a challenging course is the best way to encourage us all to reach for excellence in our deposition skills.”
“Very high value.”
“Very informative and educational”
“Very informative and relevant”
“Very knowledgeable, lots of information, real life simulations”
“Very well organized. Effective examples of each area.”
“Well worth it, and very well done.”
“Outstanding. I’ve taken 3 SEAK courses now and they are all equally outstanding and amazing!”
“The material, as presented in the course, is applicable to depositions of any discipline.”
“After 30 years of doing med-legal work, this course will help me be better prepared for my next depo.”