Executive Summaries » Five Tips for Retention of Expert Witnesses

Five Tips for Retention of Expert Witnesses

The right expert witness can be the linchpin of a successful litigation strategy, whether a case goes to trial or is resolved before reaching jury or judge. But the retention must be handled correctly, so that the expert’s task and your expectations are clear at the outset.

Interview the candidate in person in order to assess appearance, bias, credentials and demeanor. For new experts, this initial meeting is the time to ask hard questions: Have your opinions on similar topics been challenged? Have you given testimony in a case with similar facts that might contradict the theme of this case?

Work with the expert witness up front to define the scope of work as precisely as possible. Discuss staffing, and discuss the expected work product. In most cases, the key deliverables are testimony and a final report, but depending on the case, visuals using recent technologies might prove to be powerful tools of persuasion.

Create and clearly communicate a budget. Details may evolve as the case progresses, but setting down a budget and a calendar-specific schedule at the outset will make any later discussions about variations easier.

In a very large case, a testifying expert may not have the resources to handle a large volume of plaintiffs, products or issues, so it might be prudent to enlist, in addition to the testifying expert, a support team to assist with research, conduct preliminary evaluation of claims or damages, and to gather data.

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