The Most Common Mistakes Made When Selecting an Expert Witness

In cases involving firm retention and selection or legal fee audits, expert witnesses are often necessary to bolster your client’s case. Although the expert will likely have experience in testifying, you must take the time to prepare your expert and your client to ensure that hearings go smoothly.

You should schedule a meeting with your expert witness as soon as possible to discuss testimony, legal standards, and privileged information. Many attorneys underestimate the importance of preparation with expert witnesses, and end up damaging their client’s case. Comb through your client’s file and provide any relevant documentation to your expert so that you may prepare for court accordingly. You should also have your client present during meetings with the expert witness to ensure that all of the relevant facts are being discussed. In complex cases, it may be easy to forget smaller details.

A common mistake is to allow the expert witness to waive the right to read or sign the deposition transcript. An expert witness who is committed to accuracy should not easily agree to this waiver without a thorough review. Court reporters are simply human, and mistakes may be made that can cause significant harm to a case. If opposing counsel uses such a mistake to their advantage, the expert may be stuck with the incorrect transcript’s statements.

Finally, expert witnesses who can articulate their positions and why those positions are accepted as valid are the most effective in the courtroom. An expert witness should be knowledgeable about assumptions and facts on which their opinions are based, the methodology used to arrive at their conclusions, the documents reviewed by the expert to formulate the conclusion, and the extent to which there is any degree of flexibility in the conclusion.

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