Archives for November 2014

The Most Common Methods Used to Discredit an Expert Witness

Selecting a legal expert witness is a very critical factor in your legal fees or law firm retention case. The selection of a skilled expert is a step that should be carefully considered. During cross-examination, your witness must be able to repel opposing counsel’s attempts to discredit his skills, experience, and education. Discrediting an expert witness, or attempting to, is one of the most common tactics taken when a legal expert witness has made statements or explained evidence in such a manner that may weaken the opposing party’s position.

As attorneys know, cross-examination is used to “poke holes” in the opposing party’s arguments. Your legal expert witness should be prepared to combat these attempts. Prior to any trials or hearings, you will meet with your attorney and the expert witness to discuss your case, and the three of you will make sure that all necessary information is gathered and analyzed before entering the courtroom. In addition, you will plan the direct examination of your witness so that it is easy to follow and strengthens your arguments.

Any statements that appear untruthful will be a focus for opposing counsel, so make sure the expert is well prepared for court and has a clear understanding of the facts of the case. It is crucial to begin your search for expert witnesses many months in advance to ensure that they have plenty of time to understand the case and prepare their testimony.

A legal expert witness will also likely face challenges regarding the value of his or her qualifications. Selecting an expert with an extensive resume, advanced education, and experience testifying in dozens of trials or hearings in cases similar to yours will boost your expert’s credentials in the eyes of the court.

How Does an Individual Become Qualified as a Legal Expert Witness?

In cases involving firm retention and selection processes, as well as disagreements involving legal fees, attorneys typically hire an expert witness to support their arguments. As an attorney, it is important to work with counsel to ensure that the expert selected is the best fit for your case.

During your search for a legal expert witness, you should first conduct a careful evaluation of each expert’s professional qualifications and certifications. Skilled expert witnesses will be happy to provide a copy of their resume or curriculum vitae to you. Many expert witnesses even provide this information on their websites or LinkedIn profiles. Industry-specific qualifications, such as testifying in similar cases or direct experience in the legal field, are signs that your expert will offer testimony that will strengthen your position.

While it is not required, it is beneficial if the individual you are evaluating as a potential legal expert witness has testified in other cases like yours. When interviewing the expert, ask which types of cases he or she is most commonly hired to testify in. Make sure you have a clear understanding of their areas of expertise so that there is no confusion when they present testimony on your behalf.

An expert witness should demonstrate both industry qualifications and a history of court appearances in similar cases. Once you and your attorney have analyzed the background of the expert witness, you may move forward with preparing for a trial or hearing. An expert witness can be a crucial part of your case—in some instances, the testimony of the expert convinces a judge or jury that you should prevail. The careful selection of an expert witness, when paired with detailed preparation prior to court, will strengthen your position significantly.

What Should I Do If I Think My Attorney Is Dragging My Case Out To Bill More Hours?

When your attorney bills for legal services at an hourly rate, financially, it is in your best interests for the attorney to work as efficiently and quickly as possible. If the attorney is financially motivated, however, your case may take much longer than required due to unnecessary delays . Although this is not ethical, it occurs from time to time. If you believe that your attorney is taking an unreasonable amount of time to resolve your case, you may need to hire a legal expert witness to examine the facts of your case.

If you suspect that your attorney is making your case take too long so that he or she can bill additional hours, ask your attorney for an itemized bill of the legal services that have been provided. Additionally, when you first meet your attorney during an initial consultation, ask for a breakdown of how the process works so that you will have realistic expectations during the case. While some issues are outside of an attorney’s control, such as the court docket’s schedule, other factors may be a result of unnecessary delay. If you notice that your case is not moving forward, ask what the next stage is and when you can expect it to be complete.

If you are unsatisfied with your attorney’s explanation of the delays and expenses in your case, you may need to hire a legal expert witness to conduct a fee audit on your case or even support your position in court if necessary. When you need guidance about such a situation, reach out to an experienced legal expert witness. An experienced legal expert witness will examine the reasonableness of any delays in your case.

What Is A Legal Fee Audit?

If you believe that you have been overcharged by your attorney, you may attempt to work out the matter on your own first. If that does not yield results, or if you are still questioning the fees and number of hours that have been spent on your case, you may want to connect with a legal expert witness for the purposes of a fee audit.

In a legal fee audit, the professional you have hired will want to see a broken down cost of the hours spent on your case. After careful review of your type of case, the facts involved, and the possible amount of research and other time invested into crafting a quality case, your legal expert witness will compare this information with your actual billing information from the attorney.

Each case is unique, and you should factor that into the services that might be provided by a legal expert witness. If you have tried to resolve things with your attorney but your questions are not being answered in a manner that gives you confidence, you may need to escalate the situation by contacting a professional to conduct an audit. No client should be responsible for paying for services that were unnecessary or took too long, but unfortunately some lawyers and firms engage in this behavior simply because they have the opportunity to do so. If you have been a victim, you need to be aware of when to contact someone else to help you resolve this dispute.

An audit of the work and hours done by an attorney should be completed by an outside professional who has insight into typical legal cases and the amount of time that various tasks can take. Contact an expert today to get the ball rolling on your dispute.

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