ABSTRACT The US legal system has a unique language and different customs. The key to surviving an encounter in the health law arena is to understand legal language, customs, and the objectives surrounding a lawsuit. A deposition usually is a health care practitioners first encounter with testifying under oath. This article reviews the objectives and tactics that are used in a lawsuit and explains some strategies for health care practitioners to use when testifying during a deposition and presenting their defense. AORN J 70 (July 1999) 34-42.