Tip Tuesday: 10 Traits You Should Seek in an Expert Witness
May 04, 2021

So you need an expert witness for an upcoming court or arbitration case? Now, what? Finding the right person can be difficult. Here are 10 traits to seek when searching for an expert witness:

  • Experience – should have a detailed resume or CV that outlines their top-level educational credentials, relevant experience and background including any licenses, publications, speaking events and honors that the expert has received.
  • Effective Communication – need to be good communicators, comfortable with technical language and attorney questions, ability to summarize complex facts in a concise way.
  • Confidence – needs to be confident as they are subject to depositions and are often cross-examined by opposing counsel regarding how they came to their opinion or may have to testify in front of the judge or jury and their opinion needs to be believed by people who are not familiar with their area of specialty.
  • Consistency – Many expert witnesses testify in multiple cases and must remember everything through the entire process of preparing of the report, the deposition, and testifying at trial.
  • Attention to detail – Details matter!
  • Trustworthiness – must be able to convince others that their opinions can be relied upon. Trustworthiness also means that they are not willing to ignore facts that are unfavorable to the side that hired them. Reputation matters.
  • Ability to improvise – an attorney is going to try and keep them on their toes. Good expert witnesses need to be able to improvise when they are asked questions they are not prepared to answer!
  • Dedication – must prepare a detailed written report of their opinion which compiles all records that were reviewed in order to render the opinion and outline a concise summary of their findings and recommendations.
  • Professionalism – Expert witnesses should be properly and professionally dressed for their appearance in court or at a deposition. Expert witnesses should speak with confidence and should be attentive when rendering their opinion.
  • Bona Fides –  To be considered an expert witness, an arbitrator or court must recognize the witness as an expert. Having a witness who has already been recognized by a court or arbitrator as an expert is a huge plus.
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