News - Capital University Law School

New Course Pairs Future Lawyers with New Doctors

11/4/2015  - 

Capital’s newest course, Depositions, takes practical learning to a new level.

This innovative course teaches law students the basics of interviewing and conducting depositions - skills that make up a large part of many law practices.

The unique twist of the course, though, is that it pairs Capital J.D. students with medical residents at Grant Hospital, who are learning how to testify in depositions and trials.

Depositions are a crucial part of discovery in civil litigation. Attorneys interview potential witnesses under oath to pin down and preserve testimony before trial. Capital’s course combines classroom instruction with practical exercises to teach necessary depositions skills, including preparing deposition strategies and outlines; preparing witnesses for depositions; and conducting and defending lay and expert witnesses. The purpose of the course “is to develop the skills to depose anyone, but arguably one of the most difficult depositions to conduct is with an expert,” Professor Zachary Pyers, L’08, LL.M. ’09, said.

The course serves the needs of both law students developing advanced skills in taking depositions and medical residents, who are likely to give depositions during their career.

For the medical residents, working with future lawyers helps prepare being on the witness side of the deposition table. Not only are doctors frequent targets for lawsuits, they are often deposed as experts in other situations.

“The hope of this training is if and whenever they’re in that situation it’s a little less scary,” said Dr. Sarah Sams of Grant Hospital, one of the developers of the course.

The law students and medical residents train separately, then come together to conduct their final mock depositions. These are recorded so students, residents, and instructors can review them and assess the strengths and weaknesses of both the doctor-witnesses and law students.

The course was developed in several stages, beginning with a chance encounter at a water park. Prof. Pyers approached Interim Dean Rachel M. Janutis at the Ohio State Bar Association convention, held at the Kalihari Resort, and expressed his interest in continuing to serve the school. Professor Pyers is an attorney at Reminger Co., LPA. He also serves as a coach for Capital’s Mock Trial team and has taught courses previously. Professor Foley is also an attorney at Reminger, and has taught several courses at Capital, including trial advocacy. He and Prof. Pyers are co-teaching the Depositions class.

Professor Pyers, along with his colleague, Professor Kevin Foley, brainstormed course ideas with Dean Janutis and Assistant Dean Jim Beattie and eventually settled on a deposition course.

“The opportunity seemed like a great way to advance strategic priorities while offering students something beyond the Law School’s traditional skills training courses,” Dean Janutis said. “It also seemed like a great way for the Law School to capitalize on Professors Foley and Pyers combined experience and expertise in litigation and trial practice.”

Coincidentally, around the same time that the depositions course was being discussed at the Law School, Dr. Sams contacted Dean Janutis. She suggested pairing residents at Grant Hospital with law students to learn about depositions. Dr. Sams had been training residents in the Grant Hospital program in depositions for years as part of the practice management class. She contacted the Law School because she believed that both the residents and law students could benefit from practicing a common litigation tactic.

Both Dr. Sams and Dean Janutis recognized the potential of the course as a chance for residents and future lawyers to get a chance to work together.

The Law School and Grant Hospital plan to run this course as a pilot project and potentially expand it to involve cross-training with more medical residency programs within the OhioHealth group.


 Deposition Class2 
Adjunct Professor Zach Pyers.
   Deposition Class3 
Students practicing in class.
 Deposition Class1
Mock deposition with medical resident.