Who, What, Where and Why of Expert Witnesses
Sometimes the law requires the use of experts; sometimes you may decide to use experts to increase the credibility of your case.9 min read
Sometimes the law requires the use of experts; sometimes you may decide to use experts to increase the credibility of your case. In selecting experts, you will notice that in many instances, there are no clear-cut, absolute, right or wrong answers, but rather choices to be made that should be based on a careful consideration of the pros and cons.
Fortunately, when it comes to questions about the use of expert witnesses, there's no shortage of expert advice. Much of it has been learned the hard way - by mid-trial trauma. Here, culled from many sources, is some of that expert advice.
Who's an Expert?
An expert is someone who knows something beyond common experience who can help you prove something you couldn't prove otherwise. The most common expert witnesses are professionals, but there are also non-degreed experts whose background and experience qualifies them.
It's productive to think beyond "expert" to salesman, teacher and communicator. The expert's function as teacher to the attorney and jurors is a critical one. The more persuasive he or she is, the better.
In a way, an expert witness is like the anchor person on a television news program. Some networks emphasize polished delivery. Others rely on seasoned reporters, valuing their command of the facts over their appearance. Ideally, the anchor person is a combination of both types, and so is the expert witness.
Experts from academia may be good communicators because of classroom practice, but they may be less available than professionals from consulting firms who can take the time necessary to be thoroughly prepared.