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Vetting an Expert Witness

Vetting an expert witness is imperative for the legal team to ensure that the opposing legal counsel is not successful in a challenge with reliability and relevance to the case subject matter. Vetting generally requires understanding and looking into the expert's background, finding discrepancies in credentials, and matching the expert with the case or claim.

Finding the Right Expert

When vetting the expert witness for possible use in the claim or case, it is primarily to ensure he or she is the right fit for the legal team. This requires checking the background, but a more in-depth look demands a check up on financial matters such as how the professional bills lawyers, the rate of pay, communication with former legal teams and how he or she tests evidence. It is crucial this professional remains in the case or claim by staying the designated expert witness. Disqualification is normally a severe problem, and
it is possible to avert this disaster through proper vetting.

Finding the right fit for the specific subject matter may start with contacting other legal professionals to discover who the lawyer hired that helped the most. This could cut massive amounts of time from the search and reduce the
necessary vetting of the individual if already approved by another lawyer. Using the membership in a group of lawyers such as the American Bar Association is normally the best advantage in searching for the important expert witness. Searchable databases within these groups also help the legal team look for and vet the professionally initially before the first interview.

Consulting another Expert

Another way to vet an expert witness to discover if he or she would have the right fit for the case or claim is by contacting and communicating with another expert witness that knows the person or has heard of him or her through the professional community. The professional the legal team speaks with may have more information if the person vetted has peer reviews, works with others and is known in the field of study. The more the other professional works or studies on the subject matter, the more experience others will have with him or her and know about how he or she works.

Contacting and Using an Agency

Vetting an expert witness may start with a professional agency that hires the person out for cases. Even if the professional does not work through that agency, some within the organization may have more information about the expert or could detail how the person works. Giving confirmation about credentials and backing qualifications is important when hiring the expert, and the agency may accomplish this or refute the details. It is possible to contact someone that knows or works with the expert through the agency to better vet the individual. With better insight, the legal team may complete an interview confident that the professional will fit the case and client.

The Legal Expert Database

When an expert may become part of the case, he or she usually supplies proper credentials. However, some professionals or those attempting to appear as professionals want the money from the case and are not actually qualified for the court. Vetting the individual may start through a legal expert database that has the resume or work experience background of the person. If the professional works in the field with others or was in a courtroom setting previously, his or her profile is usually in the database with more information than the individual may supply to the legal team.

Other Tips for Vetting

It is important to start the vetting research early. This is possible by asking other lawyers and experts about the specific person or who to contact to discover more information. Working through a service, using the website or a database may give the individual the necessary data about the expert’s behavior and professional practices. The person vetting the expert witness may need to understand the subject material of the case better to know if the professional has adequate qualifications and testing methods based on how well he or she knows the field of study as well.

Determining the right fit for the legal team and the client is usually the last step before interviewing the expert further. It is important that he or she will not go through disqualification in the courtroom and is willing and able to communicate with the lawyer when necessary. The best expert with the most helpful testimony is what the legal team is usually looking for with the professional.

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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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