expert witness

Making an Expert Out of Your Expert Witness

Are you using an expert witness to help win your client’s case? With proficiency in their specific field, these individuals can be great assets to a legal team and can have a huge impact on how a case turns out; however, the work doesn’t stop at hiring a qualified expert witness. Prepping the expert witness for testimony is just as – if not more – important. Here are several helpful suggestions to keep in mind as you prepare your expert witness to testify:

1. Properly inform your expert witness about the case.
Every legal team has a plan for their case. It’s important for your expert witness to really understand their role in the case and why they are such an important asset. Before diving into what they will be specifically used for, give them a full 360 view of the case so they are properly informed.

2. Build in time for them to digest the case.
For an expert witness to really shine, they need time to fully comprehend all aspects of the case. Be sure to provide them with all the relevant documents well ahead of time so they can get a detailed understanding of both the defendant’s and the plaintiff’s theories. If they aren’t given the time to thoroughly digest the case, they may do more harm than good.

3. Fine-tune their communication techniques.
Something that is often overlooked is the expert witness’ ability to communicate their knowledge effectively during testimony. Are their answers overly detailed to the point they become confusing to understand? Do they share data and details while failing to actually answer the questions? Does their body language reflect their expertise, revealing confidence? Do they appear friendly or arrogant, and will they connect with the jury or turn them off? These are all items that should be examined by the legal team prior to testifying and adjusted if needed.

4. Practice makes perfect.
Expert witnesses are experts in their designated field; they aren’t experts at trials or depositions, you are. Make sure they are given the opportunity to rehearse their answers and examine or tweak their overall presence before testifying. Yet,  don’t have them practice too much; that can make their answers come off as scripted and rehearsed.

It’s also a good idea to practice asking them a wide range of questions, whether it’s a favorable question for your client or not. In doing so, they are prepared for whatever curveball the opposing counsel might throw their way.

5. Protect your relationship with the expert witness.
As you go through this process of providing your expert witness feedback before they testify, sometimes the expert witness can take your feedback as critical or mean-spirited. You need your witness to feel a trusted part of your team for current and future cases, so deliver critiques carefully and build a relationship throughout the process.

One way to keep your relationship intact, consider hiring a communication consultant who can walk them through their communication quirks and adjust them accordingly or put a focus group together and have them listen to the expert witness’ testimony to provide feedback. In both situations, the necessary feedback is delivered, yet in a way that doesn’t get in the way of your rapport.

Utilizing these tips, you will see how having a well-prepared expert witness can pay off big for you and your clients. And, as you’re getting everyone ready for the deposition, make sure you have a trusted court reporter ready to report the proceedings. If you’re in need of an experienced, high-quality reporter, give Elite a call at 888-822-3376 today.

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