Top 10 Ways to Find an Expert Witness
Expert witnesses are needed in almost every important case. How well your expert witness performs can be the difference between winning and losing. How to find the best available expert witness is critically important. Consider the following techniques to locate an expert witness:
- Use an expert witness you or your firm have retained previously. Here you are getting a known quantity. The downside, of course, is that using the same expert multiple times can be used against your expert in an attempt to show bias.
- Use an expert witness that has been against you or your firm in a different matter. Again, here your firm has some firsthand knowledge about the expert. You will likely have seen the expert’s report and maybe have seen how the expert performed at trial. You won’t be privy to other information, however, such as how accessible/responsible the expert is and how easy the expert is to work with. The risk, of course, is that by hiring this expert you may be giving him cover to defend against bias attacks in future cases against you.
- Solicit recommendations for expert witnesses from colleagues outside of your firm. This can be done informally or be facilitated through specialty associations such as The American Association for Justice.
- Ask for help from an expert witness in a related field who you have used in the past. The expert witnesses you have used in other cases can be a tremendous resource. Tap into this resource. It’s free, takes little time, and you may be able to get some feedback on the person recommended. The expert witnesses you have used in the past will likely be very cooperative and eager to assist.
- Search jury verdict reports. These may contain the name of the expert witness on the winning side. The results of the cases may give some indication of the effectiveness of the expert witnesses in question. The experts found through this method will have at least some experience as an expert witness.
- Search Expert Witness Directories. These include SEAK’s Expert Witness Directory, Jurispro, Expert Pages and many others. The advantage here is that the expert witnesses listed in these Directories are paying for advertising and presumably are looking for and available for additional expert witness work.
- Google/Internet. Many expert witnesses maintain search engine optimized web sites. Google what you are looking for and see what happens. You may also be able to find through Google individuals who have written or spoken on the issue in question. Social Media sites may also help you locate the right expert through joining groups or searching for qualifications on Linkedin.
- Contact Relevant Specialty Professional Societies. Specialty professional societies will sometimes maintain or publish a Directory of expert witnesses. If they don’t, contact the executive director and ask for a referral. For example, ACTAR (Accreditation Commission for Traffic Accident Reconstruction) maintains a Directory of Certified Accident Reconstructionists on its website.
- Use an Expert Witness Broker or Referral Service. Examples of this include TASA, Roundtable Group and ForensisGroup. The advantage with these services is that you generally only pay if you end up hiring the expert. The disadvantage is that these matchmakers will often significantly mark up the expert’s fee, which means that your client will pay a premium for the expert’s time.
- Literature Searches. Here you may be able to find persons extremely knowledgeable about the issues required. The downside is that the persons located may not be available for expert witness work and may have no experience with expert witnessing. Virgin expert witnesses can be risky. They may be immune to “professional expert” attacks, but their performance can be difficult to predict. Expert Witness Training from SEAK, Inc. is available to bring inexperienced expert witnesses up to speed. Another potential downside is the possibility of a problematic paper trail.