Home > The Experienced Expert > Expert Report: The Substance is Only Half the Job

Expert Report: The Substance is Only Half the Job

December 20, 2023
Report writing concept with 4 photos (report review, laptop and stack of documents)

By Noah Bolmer

Presentation is important. A great expert report is not only free of mistakes, but readable and well-organized. Much like your subject matter expertise, great writing is a skill that comes with research and practice. Some of our experts share their insights with us. 

Kevin Quinley recommends improving your typographical skillset: 

Appearance counts, so make your report look sharp. There is a book called Typography for Lawyers by Matthew Butterick. Again, I am not a lawyer, but a report has got to be sound with no typos, proper grammar, and formatting. 


In Shakespeare’s Hamlet, Polonius famously states, “Brevity is the soul of wit.” This is no less true in expert reports. Dennis McAllister suggests being concise:  

I think when I began writing reports, I spent too much time being wordy and not getting to the point. I have reviewed these documents. Here is the standard of care and why it is a standard of care. Here is why they matter or did not. A little more brevity makes sense because you are going to get to a deposition anyway and you are going to talk over the details.

Similarly, Steve Haas proposes avoiding jargon, likening expert reports to college essays: 

The first [goal] is to communicate my point of view and my position on the argument [. . .] [It is] not any different than writing a college essay. ‘What do I want to say, and how do I communicate it? [. . .] How do I step back and use anecdotes and stay away from industry jargon?’ Anything that someone who does not know this can say, “Oh, I can relate to that,” [ . . .] [Y]our goal is not to lose the jury’s attention by using terms they do not understand or bore them to death. How do I communicate effectively and powerfully, and do it in a way that the average juror can understand my approach? 


A methodical layout will serve you well during a deposition. If you don’t recall something immediately, it’s a trivial matter to find—if you take the time to get organized during the editing process.  Dr. Eric Cole uses a solid table of contents to stay out of the “Danger Zone”:   

I am big on organizing a table of contents and ensuring that the correct information is in the right section. An essential thing in a deposition is ensuring you are looking at the report, and clock management is necessary. On the other hand, you want to ensure that you are not abusing or overdoing it so they could go back into court and say, ‘Today, Eric took 20 minutes to answer a question, and he did not know what was in there.’ Then you are asked about memorizing for a deposition. Absolutely not, because we know it is too much information, […] there is no way you can remember all that information, especially during the last two hours when you are tired. If you try to go from memory, we should play from Top Gun, “Fly into the danger zone!” 

Get a Fresh Perspective 

The substantive portion of the document must be your own, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get assistance in editing. Michael Primeau works with his attorney to finalize his reports: 

I always make it clear to my clients, we can review reports. I’m happy to [make] change[s]. I clearly don’t speak legal. You speak a different language than I do. [. . .] so when I write it down, it might sound a little complicated when it comes to opinions. Those are bulletproof. We don’t let our clients influence opinions. But the way things read, we definitely can [. . .] go back and forth until we’ve made sure it’s clear enough for the court. 

Similarly, Terry Stroud uses an attorney friend to catch anything he may have missed: 

[E]very report, when I finish it, I give it to a lawyer friend of mine that has over 30 years’ experience [. . .] and I’ll tell him [to] shoot holes in the [report]. Look at it, edit it, redline it, give it back to me; and then after I’ve read his comments, we have a video call. 

Writing is only half the job; make sure you give yourself plenty of time to edit. Spending some time improving your writing, organizing your reports, and tightening up your text improves the chance of a successful engagement.  

If you are interested in being considered for expert witness gigs, consider signing up with Round Table Group. For nearly 30 years, we have helped litigators locate, evaluate, and employ the best and most qualified expert witnesses. Contact us at 202-908-4500 for more information or sign up now! 

Share This Post

Subscribe to The Experienced Expert

Share This Post