The Perfect Witness: The Use of Technology at its Best
The Bencher—March/April 2020
By Richard K. Herrmann, Esquire
The smart use of technology includes finding the efficiencies you can include into your practice. Smart use of technology began decades ago by applying it to repetitive tasks, which we often take for granted today. Now is a good time to take stock in your practice and focus on what you could do to reduce repetitive tasks.
If your practice includes litigation and preparing witnesses for depositions, I have found something that deserves your attention. I teach electronic discovery skills classes and part of our curriculum includes preparing custodians and other witnesses for deposition. In preparing for class, I discovered an online witness training tool at www.theperfectwitness.com.
I reviewed the site and recommend that you do the same. It offers an approach for preparing everyday witnesses for their first deposition. The marketing materials claim “The Perfect Witness is a powerful deposition training system that engages viewers with realistic vignettes and helpful teaching tools. Unlike other witness training methods that can get bogged down in unimportant details, The Perfect Witness video allows future deponents to ‘see’ how to be a concise, efficient, and an effective witness.”
I decided to test this approach on two of my classes. After the students had an opportunity to do some independent research and prepare their hypothetic witnesses for depositions, I presented them with the 45-minute online video and training course. We viewed each vignette as a class and answered a quiz at the end of each segment. Rather than describing my reaction to the video, I thought it would be more valuable to offer the students an opportunity to present any positive reactions. Their response in agreeing to participate in this review was quite satisfying. Here is what some of my students said:
“Learning tangible skills is vital to the success of a law student. Videos such as the Perfect Witness supplement our textbook curriculum with a fun and easy-to-understand visual. In particular, the structure of the video was valuable to the watcher because it clearly identifies the key elements of the needed skills or objectives and then provides the enactment of the learning lessons. The videos are memorable and needed in every law school.” —Stacey Anderson
“The Perfect Witness was a very informative video in that it gets you to think of all aspects of witness testimony. As lawyers, we often tend to focus on what a witness should say or how to illicit a certain response, but the video makes it clear the body language and other visual clues are just as important. While the examples shown in the video are exaggerations, they do an exceptional job in showing the difference between a good witness and one that would turn the jury against you, whether concerning attitude, the nature of one’s response, or certain postures.” —Nicholas Fearn
“These videos were very informative on how to prepare a witness on how the witness should compose themselves when being questioned by an opposing attorney. The small details that a witness may not think about are described and portrayed to show the differences that those small details make. An attorney who often has to present witnesses will learn from these videos and will be better able to prepare a witness in order to better the outcome of their case.” —Daniel Linares-Herrador
“The Perfect Witness was a valuable learning tool that helped demonstrate how to adequately prepare a witness for a deposition by sharing the knowledge of potential issues that could arise in order to be fully prepared with a solution. I found the videos to be engaging and, more importantly, beneficial to learning the practice of litigation.” —Geoffrey Liter
“This instructional video would be extremely helpful for preparing an unexperienced individual for a deposition. The video lays a foundation for what to expect and how to effectively interpret and respond to questioning. It is also helpful in alerting unexperienced individuals to subconscious and nonverbal cues that may potentially be adverse to their interests.” —Lochlan McDonnell
“I found the Perfect Witness video to be an eye-opening video. As a law student who has not seen many depositions, the video did a great job at explaining what it takes to prep a witness. Even though the video is meant to be shown to witnesses, I believe that young associates should watch the video themselves. I would definitely recommend the video to young associates and my classmates, before they ever have to depose anyone.” —Madeline Napierkowski
I thank the folks at The Perfect Witness for offering up their service, at no cost, for these educational purposes. It was a very positive experience. The video covers a good deal of ground in 45 minutes. It is worth a visit: www.theperfectwitness.com.
Richard K. Herrmann, Esquire is director of law and technology and visiting professor at Delaware Law School. He is a Master of the Bench member of the Richard K. Herrmann Technology American Inn of Court.