Find an Expert Witness

Forensic, General & Medical
Expert Witnesses

How to Become an Expert Witness - Part 2: The Forensic Career Path

Education is one path to a forensic practice. Many colleges and universities now offer undergraduate or graduate degree programs in forensic accounting, forensic engineering, and other professions.

Education is one path to a forensic practice. Many colleges and universities now offer undergraduate or graduate degree programs in forensic accounting, forensic engineering, and other professions.

Once out of school, a young professional can seek employment with a firm that focuses exclusively on litigation support in their industry. An equally popular choice is to join the forensic practice group of a full service firm, which will give you exposure to a wider range of activities within your profession. Most large accounting firms, for example, provide some level of litigation support services for civil and marital dissolution matters. Speak to an experienced expert witness in your field to get their perspective on your best forensic career path.

If you are beyond the college years and don’t want to devote the time or money to a 2-4 year advanced forensics degree, many professions offer a credentialing process for forensic experts. One example is the “Certified Forensic Examiner” (CFE) designation offered by the accounting-related Association of Certified Fraud Examiners.

Apprenticeship is another way to break into the forensic field. Look for the leading litigation support firms in your area of expertise, and then schedule fact-finding meetings to discuss career opportunities.

Mid-life career professionals (30s to 50s) interested in a forensic career will find it beneficial to volunteer for standards-setting activities within their industry. Attorneys almost always need to know what is “reasonable and customary” in the circumstances under dispute. For example, a plaintiff’s lawyer needs to know the recommended treatment for a patient with a heart condition, or the standard procedure to identify and avoid a potential adverse drug reaction. Your involvement in the standards-setting process will definitely add to your credentials as a recognized industry leader.

Many experienced professionals gravitate to a forensic consulting practice after retirement from their primary career. For example, doctors, engineers, government regulators, pilots, hospital administrators, and many others are attracted to a situation where they can use their specialized knowledge of standard industry practices. Expert witness work can be very lucrative, albeit stressful. Plus, you can choose the engagements that are of the greatest interest to you.

Writing articles over the course of your career is an excellent way to add to your credibility as a subject matter expert, particularly if the articles are peer-reviewed. Respected publishers who print your article essentially provide an independent endorsement. Your reputation as an expert builds with every article you write. Publishing one article per year is an excellent goal. Publishing a book in your field will truly set you apart from your competitors. (Remember that your published work is “discoverable,” so be consistent and stick to factual material that you are unlikely to contradict in court.)

Speaking is another way to build your industry credibility. Like publishing, speaking once a year at a minimum is usually an achievable goal. Again, be careful to adhere consistently to the facts.

Overall, a good way to identify the credentials held by forensic leaders in your profession is to study the CV of individual experts. Find out where they went to school, what degrees they hold, their membership organizations, articles written, speeches given and other pertinent accomplishments.

By Legal Expert Connections, Inc.
Legal Marketing, Expert Marketing, Attorney Marketing, Lawyer Marketing
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Margaret Grisdela
Margaret Grisdela is President of Legal Expert Connections, Inc., a national marketing agency specializing in business development for legal and litigation support experts. She is the author “Courting Your Clients: The Essential Guide to Legal Marketing.”

Copyright Legal Expert Connections, Inc.

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.For specific technical or legal advice on the information provided and related topics, please contact the author.

Find an Expert Witness