Digesting a Deposition: What Does It Mean?

Updated January 31, 2024
11 min read
Digesting a Deposition: What Does It Mean?


As an attorney, there are many documents you have to look over when working on a case. Your entire team is responsible for reviewing any and all evidence associated with the case, which could include a mountain of paperwork such as:

  • Phone records;

  • Email transcripts; 

  • Homeowners association (HOA) documents; 

  • User agreements;

  • Employment contracts.

Adding to that list of paperwork, you will find depositions. Among the myriad of documents, depositions play a critical role as they provide a vital source of information that can shape and direct the course of your case.

The Meaning of Digesting a Deposition

Digesting into a deposition digest involves creating a shorter or more relevant copy. This version will be more accessible to read and present only the items that are most relevant to your case.

Who Digests a Deposition?

The person responsible for digesting a deposition is usually a paralegal or a legal assistant within the office, but it can also be an attorney. The person digesting the deposition must have litigation experience as this experience provides an understanding of what type of information will be most helpful in a courtroom setting and, therefore, what types of information are considered valuable and/or essential facts out of the litany of information contained in a deposition transcript. 

Deposition Transcript vs. Deposition Digest: What Is the Difference?

The procedure of deposition abstraction is an exploration where each party interacts with involved individuals, such as witnesses, the defendant, or experts. It provides an avenue for gathering data, which could reveal pertinent information pertinent to the case. Individuals are interviewed about the case, their involvement, and/or what they may know or have witnessed. They must swear to tell the truth and answer a series of questions from different attorneys. A deposition transcript is a complete, word-for-word transcript of the deposition. 

Depending on the case, a deposition can go on for days, and as a result, the deposition transcript can be several hundred pages. Effectively, reading a deposition transcript requires an attorney or a paralegal to read a script. The transcript can include multiple pages where a question is being repeated by multiple parties or someone is answering a question with more questions.

In these situations, a deposition digest serves as a shortened version and/or summary of the pertinent or relevant information. Depending on the case and the client being represented, not every question asked during the deposition will be relevant.

For example, if you are overseeing a case where you are trying to prove that a driver was negligent, you might ask questions during a deposition that have to do with establishing that a particular driver has a record of traffic violations and/or that they were negligent at that time. However, the attorney representing the driver on the other side of the case may not need to include any of that information in their deposition digest as they are trying to build a case that proves the other person involved in the accident was running a red light.

How To Summarize a Deposition?

If you are a paralegal, knowing and understanding how to digest a deposition will prove invaluable to you as you will likely be responsible for reviewing and summarizing the deposition for the lawyers on the case. The most important legal components and items your team needs for litigation are prepared in a summary form that other attorneys can review quickly.

  • The first step is to go through the deposition, a copy of the deposition transcript, and a pen and highlighter. As you read through the deposition and find items that are relevant or thematically close to information your team needs for its case, you can highlight them. 

  • You might annotate and highlight appropriate quotes for your final report, assembling a timeline of events based on deposition answers. Depending on your firm's procedures, your role as a paralegal might entail extracting relevant quotes and facts without categorizing them. Finally, compile a report containing pertinent information, facts, and direct quotes from the deposition. 

How To Write a Deposition: Essential Tips

In digesting a deposition, it's crucial to uphold principles of thorough analysis and impartiality while ensuring the inclusion of all relevant details. When you are digesting a deposition, you must follow these tips:

  1. Comprehensive analysis: Read and analyze the entire testimony before summarizing. Pick out facts essential to your case.

  2. Avoid bias: Ensure neutrality in your summary without forming theories. Restate the obtained information without any editorializing. This includes leaving out a personal interpretation or conjecture.

  3. Include crucial details: Note all relevant details that could aid the legal team. For instance, omitting critical details could potentially jeopardize the case.

  4. Maintain context: Never twist or distort the context of deposition material. To ensure clarity, provide a brief summary of preceding and succeeding questions around particular quotes.

  5. Assure accuracy: Your summary should only include accurate and pertinent data. Exclude repetitive or miscellaneous text. To avoid redundancy, try not to include all iterations of the same question.

  6. Ease of reference: Design your summaries so that attorneys can quickly locate corresponding parts in the transcript for context or detail.

Moreover, if you are seeking information on how to craft such a summary, looking up examples of deposition summaries can be incredibly helpful.

What Are the Deposition Summary Formats?

Breaking down summarizing depositions can be done in whatever fashion works best for you and your firm or your team. However, typically, there are two types of deposition summary formats:  

  1. A fact-based deposition summary, where only relevant information is included, no matter which page, and is then put into a readable flow spaced on a category or theme;

  2. A page-by-page summary.

The first type of deposition summary format is to create a deposition brief that targets only the facts that are considered the most essential for your case, no matter where they occur in the deposition.

For example, if you have a case where you are trying to prove the other party in a divorce has adequate funding to provide childcare, a lawyer may need information from a deposition that pertains to assets, income, or any career information that might be relevant. In this case, the format for the deposition summary may only include the critical information, relevant quotes and questions from the witness testimony, and what page they occur on in the total deposition for future reference. 

The second type of deposition summary example format is to provide a summary page-by-page basis. When using this format, the lawyer may decide that the summarizing process does not require a summary of every page if that particular page does not include valuable information about the case. 

For example, suppose your case requires legal evidence that the company was required to provide their customer, your client, with an advanced warning about a potential defect in a product when the company took over ownership of the business. In that case, you can have a paralegal provide a summary of the pages of the deposition that have essential information, such as items that relate to this advanced warning, the potential defect, or information provided to the customer. A note about all other pages will say something to the effect of “no information” or “no essentials.” 


Indeed, digesting a deposition is a fundamental task in providing effective legal counsel. It involves distilling the most relevant facts from the deposition by discarding repetitive and excessive data, thus creating a concise deposition summary. This crucial exercise aids attorneys in locating the necessary details to construct a compelling case. 

The process typically entails annotation, highlighting key components, and then formatting the deposition summary best suited for your team's convenience. Should you be looking for practical guidance or searching for a deposition summary sample, visit a reliable resource vendor that can offer valuable insights into creating effective summaries. 

Article by
Yevheniia Savchenko

Yevheniia Savchenko is a Product Content Manager at Lawrina. Yevheniia creates user interface copies for Lawrina products, writes release notes, and helps customers get the best user experience from all Lawrina products. Also, Yevheniia is in charge of creating helpful content on legal template pages (Lawrina Templates) and up-to-date information on US law (Lawrina Guides). In her spare time, Yevheniia takes up swimming, travels, and goes for a walk in her home city.

If you have any questions or suggestions regarding the product or UX content for Lawrina, feel free to contact Yevheniia directly at y.savchenko@lawrina.org or connect with her on LinkedIn.