What to Include in an Engagement Letter for an Expert Witness
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The engagement letter with the expert witness is a layout of the scope that the lawyer and expert will have in the relationship for testimony and all other processes with the case. It is important to include certain terms and ensure that the expert witness is aware of his or her responsibilities both in and out of the courtroom.
Basic Identifying InformationThe basic details are usually the first pieces of info that are necessary. These can include the name, lawyer, what the expert is for with the case and any other involved basic particulars. The relationship between expert and lawyer is often part of this section to include why the lawyer needs the professional’s help with the case and how he or she will work with the lawyer. The expected services are in this section along with dates of retention for the case. This does not cover the role of the expert, as that is a different part, but the basic info will identify that an expert is on retention.
The Expert’s Role in the CaseIn the next section, the lawyer will state what the expert’s role is in the case. This will also specify if the professional needs to testify in the courtroom, create a report or give statements that do not need testimony before a judge or jury in the court. Protection based on this status for testimony is also part of this section. What which protections are available can help the expert determine what approach is best with both the work involved in the case and the results with the report or testing methods.
The Services the Expert Will Perform for the CaseAnother section will outline the expert’s services. While this does connect to the professional’s role, the services section will explain what the expert can expect along with what the lawyer wants. These services are broad in some cases and more specifically in others, but the professional will have a unique role based on the case itself. It is important to have a tailored services section because of the special relationship the lawyer and expert will have within the case and following the evidence along the way. Some of these services are standard while others are narrow of focus. This can also include a timeframe of work performed.
The Expert’s CompensationOne important aspect for the expert is compensation for services rendered. This section should clearly define repayment for expenses, standard payment for testimony or reports and how much each item is based on the case. Payments delivered should have a scheduled time or date and any factors should have specific parameters. Varied fees depend on experience and training. The work required should also have a timeframe and dates of payment. Any additional or special factors such as out of court costs and service need terms in the letter. Payment calculations also help both parties.
ConfidentialityIt is important for the engagement letter to have a clear explanation of confidentiality with the case because the expert witness will need to know how the rules will apply to his or her work. The lawyer will need to protect the details involved with the case and client, but the professional may not handle these aspects and will need a connection to his or her methods and testing. The lawyer can often accomplish this by stating that some data is confidential and requires private access. Once the working relationship ends, the professional must destroy the confidential materials used.
Communications and the RelationshipOne last important aspect of the relationship between the lawyer and the expert witness is communication. Interactions between the legal team, client and expert witness are all confidential and may require private meetings or communication that is secure. While email and phone calls are usually within the bounds of standard contact, some meetings may need to occur behind closed doors to protect the data used in the case. Some clients may want more private settings as well and could remain in certain locations while the case progresses.
The relationship between the lawyer and the expert witness may become stronger with an engagement letter that has clearly defined details and roles of the professional. When working with the legal team, the expert witness will need to know what the others expect and how to best to accomplish the goals for the case. With an engagement letter that has all the necessary sections, the professional can start working immediately.
Provided by HG.org
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.