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Lawyers and the Discovery Process

According to the Cornell Law School Legal Information Institute discovery is defined as, “in civil actions, parties use the pretrial discovery process to gather information in preparation for trial.” Basically, discovery is a pre-trial investigation process where both sides to a lawsuit attempts to learn about the other side’s claim. There are three main types discovery process and these are:

  • Interrogatories

These are written questions about the other party’s claims in the lawsuits that each side sends the other. While the interrogatories are addressed to the client, some of the questions are actually for the lawyer to answer. For example, the lawyer is expected to prepare the answers to the questions asking for the plaintiff’s expert witnesses and precise legal claims in the lawsuit. It can be said that the answers to interrogatories are a joint effort between the lawyer and client.

  • Requests for production of documents

Each party may send the other a list of requested documents supporting the other party’s claims/defenses in the lawsuit. The lawyer reviews the list and advises the client exactly what documents the client must produce. Discovery is often written in difficult to understand legal language and the lawyer translates legalese into lay language.

  • Depositions

Depositions are out of court statements taken under oath in front of a court reporter. This is the most important part of the investigation process because the insurance company sees how you performs under pressure. However, the plaintiff’s deposition performance directly has a determination on the value of the case.

It is extremely important for a party in a lawsuit to give good, concise and accurate responses to discovery. An attorney undertakes is to help you respond to discovery. In conclusion, failure to respond appropriately to discovering may result in claims being limited or dismissed.

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