In order for your client to have a successful outcome, the judge and jury need to understand and believe their story. It is worth your time and the expert’s time to make sure everyone is on the same page, follows the same script, knows their roles, and understands where the story is leading when you begin.
There is a dance involved in report writing. Experts need enough time and information to create excellent reports; attorneys often want to review the reports, but need to be cognizant that any change requests not impact the expert’s opinion or voice; and in the background confidentiality and discovery lurk over all the communication, with rules dependent on the given jurisdiction.
There are certain rules you must follow when giving testimony – to tell the truth, to be impartial, to keep to the rules of the court – but it’s important to consider demeanor and delivery as well. And, sometimes, a little levity and civility.
Rather than attempting to hire an expert who unquestioningly supports your narrative, using a very qualified expert as a sounding board will often bring benefits to your end client. Tapping their expertise — not just to support your case, but also to evaluate your story — can be the best strategy for your client.
Expert witnesses play myriad important roles in a case, including among others evaluating cases and crafting strategy. Arguably the most important role is as a teacher – educating the attorneys, court and jury about the aspects of the case that fall within their expertise.
Cross examination can be stressful for experts and cause them to inadvertently slip up, so many legal teams will spend significant time prepping an expert. Our experts shared some tips on how to be prepared.
Being viewed as an expert before ever stepping foot in the courtroom, or with little to no testifying experience starts with respect in the field. Active professionals are the most likely to achieve this level of notoriety through participation at industry-specific events and organizations, notable certifications, and written work in trusted publications.
Legal teams can help position their experts for success by ensuring they are equipped with everything needed to be convincing and authoritative in the role. Even the most experienced experts need preparation prior to testimony.
Seemingly capricious applications of Federal Rule of Evidence 702, which establishes a standard for the admissibility of expert witness testimony, have caused frustration among some attorneys for years. Starting in 2017, a committee formed to address the issue and their recommendations are now out. These proposed amendments to Rule 702 could go a long way toward strengthening reliability and benefiting the justice system.