Usually, the line between the role of the attorney and the role of the expert is obvious, but there are some points – perhaps based on type of expertise or the rules of the venue – where it can seem a little hazy. The ideal situation is one where the attorney and expert fit together perfectly. They know their roles and responsibilities, and they address those issues with conviction.
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 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.
Experts are crucial to a client’s case, but they may not understand the rules in effect for their particular matter. To avoid discovery pitfalls, it is important to set expectations at the beginning of the process. Experts should be asked about the confidentiality rules at the start of any discussion with a lawyer.
While experience in your field is extremely significant to your success as an expert witness, other factors are crucial to truly being effective. Many of these factors fall under the umbrella of knowing yourself.
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.
Earlier this year, we had a conversation on our podcast with Insurance Claims Expert, Kevin Quinley. He shared some gems about how to write a successful expert witness report. He highlights timelines, navigating your first draft, breaking it into sections, proofreading and knowing your audience ahead of time for the draft.
Over the last 27 years, we have coordinated and participated in tens of thousands of expert witness interviews. We’ve seen it all, from perfectly executed interviews to missed opportunities for critical lines of inquiry. Our experience highlights the importance of approaching expert interviews with the right mindset and preparation. It’s easy to get caught up in the details and strategy surrounding the case and miss the chance to gain a better understanding of the expert’s strengths and weaknesses.
Data breaches and cyber security hacks have been on the rise in the US, with reported cybercrimes up 300% since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. Experts estimate ransomware damage costs will rise to $20 billion in 2021. The influx of businesses falling victim to data security breaches and IT attacks is resulting in increased litigation.
Disruption to the global supply chain opens the door to litigation for everyone from manufacturers to distributors to retailers. This situation raises questions about responsibility: Who is responsible if there are faulty products as a result of supply chain disruptions? What happens if the rapid restarting of manufacturing causes problems with product quality and liability? How will disruptions impact contracts, and how can they be renegotiated?