Forensic, General & Medical
Expert Witnesses

How to Become an Expert Witness - Part 4: How to Manage your Expert Witness Practice

Here are some “best practices” as you build your expert witness consultancy.

• Build a strong CV. Maintain a complete, current, and 100% accurate curriculum vitae for your expert practice. You will want to include a comprehensive list of your employment, education, publications, memberships, and other professional credentials. Always remember that the opposing counsel will look for any available reason to discredit you, so the presence of any false information could present grounds for case dismissal.

• Maintain a 50/50 balance between plaintiff and defense work. Attorneys like to know that you can see both sides of an issue. If you spend all your time working for plaintiff firms, for example, a defense attorney is likely to view you as being biased.

• Make litigation support one of many services you offer. Try to attract work that keeps you in touch with the “reasonable and customary” standards of your profession to balance your forensic practice. If all of your revenue comes from litigation support, attorneys will view you as a “hired gun,” willing to espouse any position for a price.

• Avoid an over-dependence on one account. It may be flattering to be asked back repeatedly by one law firm. This can be a dangerous career situation if you get a reputation for being ABC Law Firm’s “go to” expert. Plus, over time the law firm itself needs to rotate their experts in order to maintain their reputation with judges and other attorneys.

• Do your own work. As the “expert,” you want to be the one who investigates the facts and writes substantially all of your own expert reports. Avoid situations where you might appear to rely heavily on the work of others, thereby undermining your role as the expert.

• Stay out of trouble. Stick carefully to what you know. The further you stray from your body of knowledge, the easier it is for opposing counsel to undermine your credibility. Be focused and confident in your specialized knowledge.

• Be knowledgeable. Read the leading journals in your profession regularly. Stay up-to-date with emerging issues, from pending legislation to recent court cases. Be familiar with the most commonly cited authors, and conversant on the pros and cons of key issues.

• Communicate clearly. A good expert witness knows how to tell a story. You need to explain complex subject matter to the judge, members of the jury, and other court participants in a way they will be able to understand. Frequently this involves the need for visual aids and exhibits to clarify points under discussion. Never get angry at the opposing counsel, as difficult as that may be. Learn how to field questions that are intended to confuse you or undermine your credibility.

You may find it helpful to read some of the many excellent books published by SEAK, Inc. They also hold an annual conference for experts.

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.

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