Attorneys looking for expert witnesses to solidify their positions need to consider several factors when choosing an expert. If an expert possesses certain skills while lacking others, he or she might hinder a case more than advance it. For example, you might find an extremely qualified expert who is respected in his field. However, if he is not a competent public speaker, it could be detrimental if the case goes to trial. An expert witness must be something of a Renaissance man (or woman), possessing a variety of attributes.
Here are just a few of the many hats that a great expert witness must wear:
A competent writer: Experts who can express themselves clearly on paper are less likely to falter during testimony. By effectively organizing their thoughts on paper, experts can explore any areas of a case that require solid research.
Being able to write a solid position paper following a case can gain an expert credibility in their field. For example, if a real estate expert witness is hired to discuss zoning law, writing a position paper could help the expert witness appear credible in subsequent cases involving zoning.
A dedicated scholar: No matter how much experience an expert possesses in their field, preparing for a case will likely entail varying amounts of research. If, for example, a case involves medical malpractice, an expert must be deeply familiar with the details of the case in order to determine whether or not malpractice occurred. Prattling off hasty positions that were not well researched can not only hurt a case, but also damage an expert’s reputation in their field.
A convincing speaker: During a trial, an expert witness will be expected to present their position to a judge and jury. The expert’s testimony will also need to stand up to cross examination. An expert witness will need to be able to think on his or her feet and articulately express often complex technical details in such a way that a judge and jury can easily understand them.
It’s important for an expert to look, sound and act in a manner adherent to their credibility. With more and more lawyers taking acting lessons, it is important to find an expert who can “act the part.” The reality is that juries are convinced by more than just raw data.
In order to find the perfect expert witness, it is often helpful to consult a referral service with experience matching legal teams with credible experts.