Expert witnesses are critical parts of many cases. Below are 8 tips to get the most out of your expert witness:
1. Take the time to find the best expert witness you can. You will often have many expert witnesses available to you. It is your job to choose the best expert you can afford. Recommendations from trusted colleagues are invaluable in selecting experts. You can also interview the expert in person before you hire the expert. Look for experts who teach and those who are serious about their performance as expert witnesses.
2. Make sure you are comfortable with your expert’s methodology before he is hired and before he is disclosed. Your expert should never get Dauberted out. Do your homework before disclosing your expert to make sure you have an expert whose opinion will stand up to legal challenges. Ask your expert hard questions and make sure they can defend their methodology. If they can’t, find another expert.
3. Hire the appropriate number of experts for your case. Problems occur when experts testify outside of their true area(s) of expertise. This is often partly the lawyer’s fault for pushing the expert to testify in an area that they may not be qualified to testify in. Protect your experts by hiring as many as you need to cover all of the opinions that will be presented.
4. Do not put your expert on too tight of a budget. Bad things happen when your expert can’t do what he feels he needs to in order to solidly work up his opinion. Do not put your expert on an unrealistically low budget. This is penny wise, pound foolish, and a recipe for disaster.
5. Give your expert access to everything they might need – do not withhold information from your expert. An expert witness who you fail to provide with access to key information will be left hanging in the wind. Protect your expert by giving him access to all the information he may need. Do not withhold potentially relevant information.
6. Prepare your expert for testimony well ahead of time. One of the biggest mistakes lawyers make is the failure to properly prepare their expert witness for testimony. This should be done well in advance of the date of testimony in case the expert needs to work on problems that are identified. If you want to get the most out of your expert, don’t tell him “We’ll meet to go over everything in the coffee shop an hour before you go on,” or “You’ll be fine, this isn’t your first deposition.”
7. Pay your expert on time. Experts serve as expert witnesses because they are paid to do so. There is nothing more distracting and annoying to an expert witness than a lawyer who doesn’t pay the expert on a timely basis. You want your expert focusing his mind and energies on his opinions, not on how to get his fee out of you.
8. Don’t write the expert’s report for him. It is very risky to write an expert’s report for him. Such reports will often end up containing language, such as legal terms, that the expert can’t even explain, let alone defend.