Dr. Donald M. May, Ph.D., a director in the Litigation and Corporate Financial Advisory Services Group at New York-based accounting firm Marks Paneth & Shron LLP, has released a statement citing the importance of including expert witnesses as consultants in preparation for litigation.
“In most cases, a law firm will bring in an expert witness near the end of the litigation process to report and testify.” Says Donald M. May, “But that’s not the most cost-effective way to use an expert.”
Though lawyers often rely on expert witnesses in court, the shrewdest firms go one-step further and use experts as consultants early on. Dr. May explains that experts are best used at the beginning part of the litigation process to help law firms identify which cases are most likely to succeed and help firms decide how to best allocate their resources. The impact they make can be momentous.
“The consulting expert can make a huge difference between losing and winning a case,” says the New York expert witness.
Experts have the ability to guide law firms and litigators from the onset of a case. In addition to helping firms identify which cases are most winnable they can help prepare litigators in advance of trials. Though expert witnesses are often used to testify in court, many experts are used as consultants and never see the stand. It can also be helpful to hire consulting experts that are separate from testifying experts so that the consulting expert’s work is not subject to discovery.
Dr. Donald M. May sees the role of an expert witness as multi-faceted. According to Dr. May, experts can provide many advantages to litigators including:
- Improved win rate
- Strategic consulting
- Formulate a written discovery plan to help litigators decide which information is most critical to a case and what information should be requested
- Expose weaknesses in the opponents case
- Help firms decide if expert testimony is necessary
- Rebut opponents experts
- Sit in on the deposition to offer follow-up questions
- Prepare questions for witnesses at the trial
Dr. Donald M. May knows the value of an expert, having served as a financial expert witness. He has prepared expert witness testimony and expert reports related to business valuation. Dr. May believes that while hiring a consulting expert can be costly, the cost can be more than justified by the expert’s impact on win rate and the quality of case that’s presented at trial.
According to the New York expert witness, “The consulting expert can be such a powerful factor and can make such a difference in the case that you may intentionally never want them to testify.”