Prepare for a Deposition: With and Without Cognito’s Legal Workflow Software

Cognito is a legal workflow solution designed by a lawyer, for lawyers. We know how lawyers work, and we’ve designed our software to work with the logical steps you already follow to complete a task. Without Cognito you must often skip through multiple applications to locate what you need, and when you find it you have no single effective way to store and organize it to complete the task. With Cognito you have the required searching and gathering tools at your fingertips within the app, and when you find the information Cognito stores it all on one list and enables you to organize and present it without wasted effort.

What does that look like when you’re actually working? Let’s examine how you might prepare for a deposition today—and how you can do the same task easier and better with Cognito


Step 1: Gather Information


Before Cognito. Sift through your collections of paper and electronic files for relevant information. Try to remember where you put that document containing the client’s initial description of an event. Eventually remember that you got it by email So you open your email and continue searching, but you promptly get distracted by new emails on other subjects. You return two hours later, finally find the nugget you’re looking for, and copy it and paste it into a Word document along with various other disorganized bits and pieces of information. At some point, you email your Word hodge-podge to your associate or paralegal and ask if they have anything to add. They email you back some things you omitted. And round and round. Then comes the part where you cut and paste the mumbo-jumbo into a meaningful sequence for your depo outline.


With Cognito. Add a new task called “Prepare for Smith deposition” and add your paralegal and associate as collaborators. Open your Details List for the deposition and copy facts, quotes from documents and transcripts, notes, and contact information that you previously collected when you drafted an earlier pleading. Open discovery pleadings and add key text to your list with a couple of clicks Cognito automatically supplies source information with page and line numbers.

Add quotes, summaries, and ideas from the last similar case you handled by importing details from another project—you’re not limited to the details within this task. While you’re working, your collaborators can see the same task and all of the details, so they can add any other information that they have. Nobody has to leave the Cognito platform, so you’re not distracted or pulled off-task.


Step 2: Add Initial Notes


Before Cognito: Jot down your thoughts, ideas, lists, brainstorm inspirations, and areas for further investigation or research, either on paper or on your computer.


With Cognito: Jot down all of those same thoughts and ideas directly into the Cognito platform, as a detail within the “prepare for deposition” task.


Step 3: Review Gathered Information and Start Outlining Your Questions


Before Cognito: Try to remember where you put your list of thoughts and ideas for this case. Track it down and start sorting ideas into a logical order and structure. Arrange ideas and copy and paste—or re-type entirely—the information you need to support each idea. Get distracted by all the switching. Lose track of where a quote was supposed to be or where it came from and lose valuable time tracking down its associated point or its source.


With Cognito: Open the “prepare for deposition” task in Cognito and scroll effortlessly through all of the assembled details you’ve already added to the task, each of which includes a designation of its source. Open the Task Outline sidebar and start adding points for each of the subjects you’ll want to cover in the deposition. Drag and drop details from your task into the outline to support each point. Rearrange points as much as you like by simply dragging and dropping them into a new order—every time you change your points, the linked details will follow, along with their source designations.


Step 4: Fill in any Legal or Factual Research


Before Cognito: Open a web browser tab and navigate to Westlaw, Casetext, the Library of Congress, or wherever it is you need to go to find the authority, arguments, or facts you need to build your case. Copy and paste information from those websites. Switch endlessly back and forth from Word to your web browser. Try to keep track of which website or case law authority each detail came from as you add it to your deposition outline. Ask your paralegal to fill in a few sections. Email drafts to and from and waste time trying to find the most recent version of the outline.


With Cognito: Open a web browser tab and navigate to wherever you need to go to find additional support for your case. Create a web detail by copying the URL for each site you visit or each case you read and pasting it directly into the details list as a way to navigate to the website again. As you review the website, add important quotes and summaries to your detail list with a few clicks. Don’t worry about keeping track of what came from where—Cognito will maintain the source association for you. Assign a few sections to your paralegal to fill in; they can instantly see that assignment and their work will be instantly available to you on the same details list.


Step 5: Complete Your Deposition Outline


Before Cognito: Go back to Word and start to winnow your collected facts, arguments, and citations down to an organized, logical, well-supported deposition outline. Backtrack to your email to find the source information for a detail that you copied in without attribution. Get distracted by new emails. Realize you lost some valuable details during one of your rearrangements. Track those details down again and reinsert them. Eventually, finish a full deposition outline with all of the details and supporting authority you need, and push away from your desk exhausted.


With Cognito: Open the Cognito platform and return to your “prepare for deposition” task. Review your outline of points and ensure that it includes everything you want. Open the built-in document editor within Cognito—again without ever leaving the platform—and insert the points you’ve already assembled by simply dragging and dropping them into your document, each one accompanied by its supporting details and source designations. Type new text into your outline as needed and delete unnecessary information. Create a final deposition outline with all of the details and supporting authority you need and export it into Word or PDF format. Push back from your desk satisfied with how easy that was.


Step 6: Do It All Again


Before Cognito: This is the nature of legal work, no? The next time you have to do a deposition in a similar matter, you start all over at Step 1.


With Cognito: Start a new task and import the details you used in a previous similar deposition in this or any other project. Cognito will bring along any details you ask it to, along with their source designations—so your work goes faster every time you use it.


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