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.