Tips for Securing an Expert Witness
Read Time: 4 Minutes
An expert witness is one of the most valuable components of a case, but the right one can prove difficult to find. Just finding and selecting a credible and qualified expert witness can require significant time and effort. So where do you begin?
You can use strategies to help expedite your expert witness search and avoid roadblocks in the process. These best practices are based on GLGs years of work securing expert witnesses for litigators around the globe. I have outlined some of the most common obstacles to securing an expert witness and how to tackle them.
Finding the Right Expert for Your Case
Identifying the best expert for your case takes creativity and determination. You need to start your search early. This also gives you the buffer to go back to square one if needed. It isn’t uncommon to connect with someone who seems like a good fit for your case only to discover that the person doesn’t have the right qualifications. So, where should you begin?
Start with the facts — what does your expert need to know? To choose the right expert, consider the facts of your case and ask yourself what questions need to be addressed or answered from your client’s perspective. Think ahead to what facts and evidence you need to establish to support an argument.
Some experts are easier to find than others. When you need a witness with commonly found expertise, your search should turn up a wide selection of experts. But when a case requires a unique set of skills and expertise, the search will be more difficult. In these situations, it can be helpful to turn to other sources for recommendations.
Recycling experts can be limiting. Tenured partners may feel more comfortable drawing from their existing book of experts. But this can make finding specialized needs difficult, if not impossible. Other common detriments to “recycling” experts include:
- Potential conflicts in case matters.
- The impression that your expert is a “hired gun” based on their past expert witness experience.
- Limiting your resources by turning only to word-of-mouth recommendations.
Properly Vetting Experts
Once you have identified a group of potential expert witnesses, you should vet them thoroughly. When vetting expert witnesses, it’s important to focus on two points:
- Ensuring your expert’s credibility. Will a judge and jury consider your expert to be a qualified, credible witness and be willing to accept their opinion?
- Uncovering weaknesses that could discredit your expert. While vetting, you want to discover anything that the opposing counsel may use to discredit your expert. It is important to uncover any potential biases or discrepancies before retaining your expert.
Vetting an expert witness can be strenuous. Start the vetting process as early as possible. You need to confirm an expert’s qualifications and credentials, and then confirm their knowledge of the subject matter. Things to consider include:
- Do the expert’s qualifications fit within the case’s geographical jurisdiction?
- What certificates, licenses, or awards — if any — should you consider?
- Can the expert testify on complex topics while presenting information in a way that’s accessible to a jury?
- How credible is their opinion, and how will it hold up to claims of admissibility in court?
- How specialized and relevant is their knowledge?
Simplify the process with screening procedures. After identifying qualified candidates, you want to conduct a holistic assessment. Screening procedures should be comprehensive, covering background and conflict checks and confirming there are no previous sanctions or claims of malpractice.
They’re qualified, but how well will they testify? Whether or not an expert is desirable could boil down to intangible traits or factors that do not appear on paper. Aside from an expert’s background and qualifications, a good expert must also possess a composed, credible presence and be able to distill complex subject matter into terms a jury can easily understand.
The process to find and select the right expert witness can be daunting. It is filled with nuance and potential roadblocks. When you first start your search, it is easy to feel overwhelmed. However, by taking an organized approach early on, knowing exactly what expertise you need, and leveraging available resources, finding and retaining an expert can be done efficiently and effectively.
Law firms can save valuable time and effort by partnering with GLG to expedite their expert witness selection. GLG can identify expert witness candidates from our screened network of more than 900,000 Council Members, so we can quickly find the right expert for you. Get in touch to start your search now.