What Every Expert Witness Should Ask Counsel Before Accepting a New Assignment
Expert witnesses love new challenges and new cases/assignments. Often experts are so eager to land an assignment that they fail to ask retaining counsel crucial questions. Some questions experts should always ask retaining counsel are as follows:
- Who are the parties?
Experts will want to obtain this basic information so they can do a conflict check. You do not want to avoid obtaining any “confidential” information so you yourself are not later conflicted out of the case.
- What is the area of expertise required?
Experts need to determine what specific areas of expertise the lawyer is looking for to make sure they are a good fit for the assignment. When the assignment is not within their area of expertise, the assignment should not be accepted.
- What are the deadlines in the case?
Expert witnesses will want to ask counsel:
- When are the expert witnesses to be designated
- When are the expert reports are due
- When rebuttal reports are due
- When Depositions need to be completed by
- When trial is scheduled/anticipated
Experts who are unwilling or unable to meet these deadlines should not accept the assignment.
- Will counsel sign your fee agreement and provide a retainer?
Experts will want to make sure that counsel is ready, willing, and able to sign your fee agreement and provide you with the retainer you require.
- What experience does counsel have in these cases?
It is totally legitimate to ask counsel about his/her experience with this type of case. Counsel who has no relevant experience will likely require more “education” and may make the assignment more difficult/challenging for the expert.
While there are many more questions experts can and should ask counsel, performing a basic due diligence with the 5 questions above will help the expert make the decision about accepting or not accepting the new assignment.