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Expert Witness Training and Mentoring

Experts often go through specialized training to become a witness in the courtroom with credentials that will pass the interview process before the judge and opposing legal counsel. The mentoring and training the professional progresses through generally happens with another expert in the same field who may introduce the person to the legal side.

A professional that goes on to become an expert witness with the courts generally has mentoring and training under someone in a similar field or in his or her own career. A medical practitioner may train under a specific surgeon. The mentor may explain administration as well as the specialized medical field. Others in the same hospital may become other mentors that advice and walk the person through the job. Training normally occurs before the individual moves up or promotes to another location.

After the initial training period, the person could train someone else. Even after remaining an expert witness, the professional could also become a mentor.

What Is a Mentor?

For the expert witness that presents testimony in the courtroom or runs tests to provide additional details in the courtroom, he or she usually has someone that teaches the profession
or subject matter before the person is in the case. The mentor provides advice, may explain testing and how the results connect to the material. Others are peers in the same field and may critique certain testing methods or papers that explain various issues. Another mentor could exist in the same company or department as the professional or could hold a supervisory position above the person.

Training an Expert Witness

The expert that testifies in the courtroom may have years of experience through training under a consultant or a mentor. This is often on the job training that occurs through experiencing the matter first hand. If the expert has training through watching a mentor test evidence or create a report for a case, he or she may emulate the same methods learned from the other professional. Skills training is important when the expert is a forensic expert in a specific field. This would require only a small portion of professionals to teach him or her how to implement the skill in a case.

The expert witness hired for a claim in civil courts or a case in criminal courts must have the relevant knowledge of the subject matter. This is something gained through education or experience in the field. Then, he or she will need to possess reliable testing methods. This often comes from mentors that explain and demonstrate how to test evidence or other items and acquire insight into the matter. Error rates should remain below five percent for accurate results, and they should stay consistent. A mentor usually shows the expert how to acquire reliable data through the same type of testing process.

Qualifications and Credentials

When the expert faces the judge and opposing legal counsel for the interview process to determine if he or she will become a designated expert witness for the case, the professional will explain the training and any mentor attached to his or her background. The mentor presence is sometimes required to back up these claims. Then, the judge and legal counsel will understand why the expert believes in certain testing methods or trains of thought regarding certain issues with the subject matter. Qualifications are more apparent when looking at the mentor and the company or agency the person worked for before
present in the case.

If the expert works only for one side in legal matters, this could lead to possible cross-examination attacks from the opposing legal team. To increase credibility, the professional may need to provide testimony for both the plaintiff and defendant in different claims or the prosecution or defendant in criminal cases. This also provides a more well-rounded background as an expert witness and may increase the possible workload through additional lawyers hiring him or her. Some may continue working through the previous profession and still present testimony in the courtroom. Others work only part-time with a mentor while still giving reports and explaining the evidence for claims and cases.

The Expert and the Mentor

Even if the expert never becomes a mentor, he or she may work with and train under a mentor throughout his or work life. This may increase knowledge and awareness of various tests and how to examine certain subject material. This could also help with relationships with lawyers to work better so the courtroom holds confidence in both professionals.

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Disclaimer: While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication, it is not intended to provide legal advice as individual situations will differ and should be discussed with an expert and/or lawyer.

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