Selecting a Legal Expert Witness

Hiring a legal expert witness becomes necessary when you are retained for a case involving legal malpractice. The expertise of this witness is required to show where legal malpractice did or did not occur in your client’s case.

Selecting the proper legal expert witness for your client’s case can be quite the challenge. As all attorneys know, you must begin preparing your case with the end in mind. As you interview potential legal expert witnesses, consider how each one would testify in front of a judge and jury. Is the witness easy to understand? Is the witness engaging and interesting? Does the witness speak clearly, or does the witness have a distracting habit, such as foot tapping?

Additionally, ask each witness for the percentage of cases in which their testimony or expert reports were used to prevail. Many legal expert witnesses have testified in trial, but understanding how often the witness’ testimony has been persuasive to a judge and jury is more beneficial as you evaluate witnesses for your case.

Your legal expert witness should also be well versed in various aspects of legal malpractice cases. For example, say that your client’s case stems from a dispute over legal fees. If your expert only seems familiar with this aspect of legal malpractice cases, opposing counsel will use this fact to discredit your witness in court. A legal expert witness with experience in multiple types of malpractice cases will offer a wealth of knowledge to your case.

Finally, although it is tempting to select a witness who has primarily testified for the plaintiff or the defendant, do not dismiss legal expert witnesses who have testified for the “other side.” These witnesses will be able to offer you insight into opposing counsel’s position, which will significantly strengthen your case and your arguments.

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