Preparing the Expert Witness for Litigation

Expert witnesses can help bulk up a defense but without the right questions and preparations, they can fall flat. A knowledgeable and personable expert witness can add value to a legal defense, especially during litigation. On the other hand, an expert that comes off as unintelligent and uncooperative can hurt a legal strategy. While these witnesses are experts in their field, they are seldom experts in litigation.

Working with these witnesses can prove more difficult than even the most seasoned attorney is prepared for but with a few tricks of the trade, preparation can be made easier for both the witness and legal counsel.

Start with the Issue at Hand

Before starting any further preparation, it’s important to determine and identify why an expert is needed in the case. The answer to this question will greatly determine how the rest of preparations will proceed. If the case needs someone who can attest to a medical condition compared to describing what they would have done in a similar situation, such as during a medical malpractice suit, the two situations will be treated differently.

Speaking of issues, understanding where they are having issues in their testimony will also help. For instance, if they are having issues verbalizing, the techniques applied will be different if they are having problems with nerves in general. On the other hand, an expert witness that has an attitude problem will take coaching as opposed to help with wording.

Establish Attorney-Expert Relationship

Just as an attorney has to establish a relationship with their client, the same is true of an expert. There should be open communication between the two as they prepare for litigation. Without establishing a relationship, it will be contentious so work so closely together, even though it is only one testimony. While the relationship doesn’t have to be as well-built as the one between the attorney and client, the two should have a comfortable repertoire with one another.

Ditch Trying to Sound Like an Expert

One big issue both experts and attorneys have is the preconceived idea of how experts sound. No two people sound alike, and perpetuating a Hollywood stereotype won’t win a case. Rather than trying to sound like an expert should sound, the focus should be on having a cohesive testimony that showcases their expertise. Stick with the facts and leave acting for the actors.

At our firm, we have experience working with expert witnesses for our clients. If you have a complicated case that will require expert witnesses, contact us today to find out more.