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Expert Witnesses

Working with a First-Time Expert Witness

A first-time expert witness may require additional training and tips for best practices in the courtroom and testing to ensure a better experience and help to the client and lawyer. Through following these best practices, it is possible to increase the efficiency and productivity of the professional to strengthen the case and confidence in his or her abilities.

When the lawyer working with a new expert witness is aware of the inexperience, he or she should remain mindful of certain areas and issues with the subject matter and the court proceedings. New experts generally require extra time to get used to the court, administration and the client. When travel is part of these situations, it is important to minimize the connecting flights if the professional is not accustomed to this mode of travel. Other items may include expenses, lodging, the need for a report and how to work with the opposing counsel.

Unforeseen Circumstances

Whether the expert must prepare for inclement weather or something the legal team cannot predict, it is possible to inform the professional of various issues to look for and some to prevent. Flights with extreme weather could land and cost extra time. Driving in snow, ice or tornadic
weather is dangerous. Unforeseen circumstances may also arise in lost eyewitnesses, late evidence and complications with the case. The expert’s side may require a report that lacks details until additional help arrives or the information is available. It is necessary to work with the lawyer and other members of the legal team to tackle such obstacles.

The Expert’s Well-Being

It is important to ensure the best possible circumstances with the expert. To provide the services necessary in the courtroom, the professional will require plenty of sleep, time away from a long flight or car ride and food and lodging. Asking what works best for the expert is crucial to a better experience with the first-time expert witness. If the lawyer has various expectations, he or she will need to communicate these matters to the professional. The individual hired will not know what to ask or look for, and it is the lawyer’s job to anticipate these matters.

The Meet-Up and Reviewing the Plan

Many first-time experts will require assistance in understanding the courtroom processes. The initial meet-up is important so the professional knows what to look forward to and how to proceed with certain issues. Knowing if he or she is able to remain in the courtroom during other’s testimony and before providing details about evidence is important for the first-time expert witness. Violations of these matters are best avoided by preparing and planning with the professional beforehand. Communicating in person is one of the best ways to avoid and prevent complications happening later.

Advanced Meetings and Discussion

The lawyer may need to meet with the expert in advance to discuss various issues. Some of these include the exhibits the professional may demonstrate or guide the courtroom through. This could involve a PowerPoint presentation, technology such as a computer or virtual reality simulation or even handheld devices that show specific information. The more complex the situation will be in the courtroom, the more the lawyer will need to understand and help the first-time expert witness. An advanced meeting to walk through all the specifics is important and could help both professionals work together. The lawyer may explain that the case may not need a visual exhibit or that the presentation needs some tweaking.

The Lay of the Land

First-time experts often need the help of a professional to understand where and how with a courtroom. The where of items, where to stand and where to present are crucial. The how to present and how to explain certain material could increase the effectiveness of the information. The expert may not know what to expect or what processes will occur. Through walking him or her through this, the relationship between lawyer and expert may increase so they may give the jury or judge confidence that the legal team knows and is aware of the subject matter.

Other minor matters could also help the expert in etiquette and courtesy. This could include the bringing of a cell phone, what type of clothing and shoes to wear and how to speak to the judge or jury. Some local rules are often different. Telling the expert how to proceed with small town business is just as important as how to behave with a big city jury.

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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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