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At What Time Should a Deposition Start?

The Abnormal Use blog says in a post today that it is an unwritten rule -- in fact, the "most important" unwritten rule of the practice of law -- that no deposition should start before 10 a.m. Jim Dedman of AU writes that there are several reasons for this practice:

  • "Colleagues planning to attend a deposition may want to stop by their own office first or travel from another city before arriving at a deposition."
  • It allows attorneys flying in from out-of-town to possibly catch an early flight and still arrive on time.
  • It allows participants who fly in the night before to "accustom themselves to their new surroundings and make it to the deposition without unnecessary haste."

(To this list I would also add that it may allow the local attorneys involved to drive in to the city after rush hour is over.)

But despite the many excellent reasons for a 10 a.m. start time, Dedman notes that he is alarmed to have seen a "number of notices calling for the deposition to begin at -- gasp -- 9:00 AM.  Oh, the humanity!" Dedman says that while there are exceptional cases where a deposition must or should start early, these 9 a.m. start times he's been seeing seem to be for no good reason.

So what is the proper response from an attorney who receives a notice violating this unwritten rule and setting a deposition at the ungodly hour of anything prior to 10 a.m.? In baseball, for example, when the unwritten rules are violated, a batter on the offending team may get a fastball thrown into their ribs in retaliation. What can lawyers do?

Max Kennerly, a commenter on Dedman's post, has one solution: disobedience. Kennerly writes that "the 10 AM rule is typically enforced through civil disobedience to earlier times. The only time you have an earlier deposition is if multiple lawyers are traveling to the site and multiple depositions have to take place, to ensure everybody gets finished in the allotted number of days."

I have not participated in a deposition for about a decade, but my recollection is that the 10 a.m. start time was firmly in place back then, as well. Is this true all over? And what do lawyers do if faced with a notice for a rule-breaking 9 a.m. deposition?

Posted by Bruce Carton on September 26, 2012 at 04:09 PM | Permalink | Comments (5)

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