Rookie Mistakes to Avoid as an Associate: Failing to Notice a Deposition

Rookie Mistakes to Avoid as an Associate: Failing to Notice a Deposition


"As a junior associate, I subpoenaed a witness for deposition in another state.  I failed to serve a formal notice of the deposition on the opposing counsel.  On the morning of the deposition, the partner and I flew out to the deposition location.  Opposing counsel didn't come, of course, because he was not aware of the deposition.  I realized my mistake and had to explain what I had done to the partner.  We flew home that same day without taking the deposition.  My law firm was forced to incur the travel costs for the deposition as we could not charge the client for this careless mistake."

How to avoid this disaster:

Many practitioner mistakes stem from a lack of understanding about the big picture.  As a litigation associate, ask someone to sit down with you and explain, in detail, the timeline of a case from complaint to post-trial motions (roughly:


-motion to dismiss/answer;


-motion practice;

-summary judgment briefing;

-pretrial work;


-post trial motions).   

By understanding the timeline, and where each piece of the litigation puzzle goes, you are less likely to make procedural and technical errors.  

As part of learning this timeline, you will want to have a comprehensive understanding of the discovery process, including written and oral discovery.  

Learn how to schedule party depositions, subpoena non-parties for depositions, and, how to provide notice to all relevant parties of an upcoming deposition.  You can do this by asking for guidance from more experienced colleagues.

In addition, engage in self-learning.  Take to your rule books (that's right - the statutes) and start reading (read actively at that - highlight, make notes, index key pages for your practice).  Not only will most of your litigation questions be answered, you will find sample documents and key substantive information for your practice, as well

Desiree Moore is the President and founder of Greenhorn Legal, LLC. Greenhorn Legal offers intensive practical skills training programs for law students and new lawyers as they transition from law school into their legal practices.  Ms. Moore is also an adjunct professor at Loyola University Chicago School of Law and was an associate at the law firm of K&L Gates. She can be found on Twitter at @greenhornlegal.