Confessions of a Doctor

I spend a fair portion of my life in doctor depositions. Most depositions in an attorney's world take place in law firm conference rooms where we can spread out our papers and our notebooks and look a deponent in the eye from across the table.

Doctor's depositions are different, though. Unless a doctor is a defendant in a malpractice action, most doctor depositions take place at the doctor's office. And most doctor's offices aren't particularly big or particularly nice.

I found myself in one such deposition a few days ago. My client (the plaintiff) was present, the defense attorney was there, a court reporter was there, the treating doctor was there. I had a huge notebook with over 1000 pages of medical records, my client, a senior citizen, had her walker, the court reporter had her notebook computer, her stengraphy machine and the rest of her court reporter parapheralia, and there we were, all crammed into some wealthy doctor's hot, messy, crowded space.

And then something mystical occured: the doctor realized that we couldn't all fit and moved the entire show up to his medical group's lavish board room. We all spread out, leaned back, pivoted around in plush leather chairs and the depositon proceeded to conclusion in the inner sanctum.

The surprises, however, weren't finished, because when the deposition ended, and I thanked the doctor (diplomatically) for moving us out of his tiny space, he confessed to me why we were ever crammed together in the first place.

"Doctors," he said, "don't like depositions and they don't want to spend their time with lawyers. The more uncomfortable a lawyer is, the sooner a deposition is likely to end. And that's why we hold depositions in our offices."

As I walked out I wondered why I hadn't realized this perfectly logical fact years ago.