Preparing for Your Expert Witness

When preparing to engage an expert, there are questions to ask of both yourself and your expert that can benefit both parties. An attorney would be well served to answer these questions themselves and can expect a potential expert witness to pose some or all of the following questions:

1. What kind of a case is this? Decide for yourself what you believe the focus will be and be ready to provide a general description of the case. As always, be careful to not provide confidential or privileged information.

2. Who are the parties? This will enable the expert to do a conflict check.

3. Where is or where will the case be filed? In addition to helping your paralegal best prepare for the filings and notices required, the expert may need additional preparation time or allowance based upon the state in which the litigation will take place.

4. What deadlines should you and your expert be aware of? The deadline for designation of expert witnesses, submission of the expert’s report, dates for ADR or trial to allow the expert to offer suggestions for timelines for attorney review.

5. What is(are) the issue(s) that you will need your expert to address? The expert will need to determine whether s/he is qualified to opine on these issues and is comfortable that his/her qualifications, experience and expertise are a good match for the issue(s) at hand.

6. How much is in dispute? This will enable an experienced expert to get a rough idea of the overall litigation budget and resources the attorney will be utilizing to litigate the case to better meet the attorney’s budgetary needs.

7. How many pages of documents will you send for review? Tracking these copies is vital to your litigation efforts and your paralegal’s ability to coordinate all the moving parts in your case. Additionally, this will permit your expert to estimate a retainer. The more voluminous the materials you submit, the higher the retainer will be.

8. Have other experts been selected yet and if so; who are they? Your paralegal will be called upon to coordinate the work of experts to ensure smooth and timely completion of all litigation related tasks. Further; knowing whom your expert might be working with and the experts retained by opposing counsel may be helpful in determining whether the expert is a good fit for the case at hand.

9. Will a report and/or a deposition likely be requested? You should prepare your expert to provide a report, a rebuttal report or no report at all. Advising your expert whether their deposition will likely be taken is helpful in preparation as well.

10. What is the firm’s degree or level of experience with these types of cases? Experienced experts are well aware that counsel with little or no relevant experience will likely require more assistance and can prepare accordingly. Experienced experts are also well aware that litigation support staff may need assistance in sequencing of tasks, interviews, reports, depositions, etc.for greater efficiency.