Four Key Ways Attorneys Can Help an Expert Witness Perform their Best

Scripta Ad Astra is extremely pleased to present a guest post by Michal Longfelder, Esq.  Ms. Longfelder is an expert witness in the field of HR law and workplace investigations.

Author: Michal Longfelder, Esq.

We, as expert witnesses, often provide a necessary and critical part of your litigation strategy. By speaking to unique questions or facts, we can be a significant element of a successful outcome.

 

1. Know why you want me as your expert witness and for what purpose

Like most expert witnesses, while I can opine on a range of subject matters; I need to know exactly how I can be most helpful.  Take the time to learn about and understand my background so you are sure that I am best suited for this case.    For example, many attorneys do not realize that the HR function has evolved into specific areas of specialization and, as a result, many HR professionals no longer have a broad generalist background but rather, a narrow, expertise in a particular HR function such as organizational development.  If your case requires expertise in disability accommodations, make sure that the expert has substantial experience in that particular sphere of the HR function.

2. Retain me as a consultant in advance of retaining me as an expert

Many attorneys, in an earnest effort to keep litigation costs down, do not retain an expert until shortly before depositions begin.  By retaining me as a consultant early on and under your direction, earlier, we will both know how I view your case’s relative strengths and weaknesses without being subject to discovery.  Questions such as whether there are enough “good facts” to make it worth litigating are better answered sooner than later. Retaining me early as a consultant also affords you the opportunity to consider the settlement value of your case or whether my opinions have implications for other aspects of your litigation strategy.

When carefully selected and utilized, expert witnesses can strengthen your case to opposing counsel and a jury.   By planning in advance why, when and how to make the best use of my expertise and experience, you and your client will have confidence in the expert witness you have selected.

3. Take the time to prepare me for deposition

I am also an attorney, so counsel often assumes I do not require much, if any, prepping for deposition.  Here, you are the expert on the case and I need to learn from you.  Tell me about the weaknesses you perceive will be a challenge. Most importantly, tell me what questions I should expect from opposing counsel so I can think about how I will respond.

4. Think about my role at trial

Will you want me in the role of “storyteller” who summarizes the relevant information and provides guidance as to how the jury should assess and interpret the information presented by others?  Or would I be more useful testifying on a discrete but critical issue in the case?  Perhaps I will be part of building the facts necessary to effectively try or defend the case?  Finally, consider whether I will be more effective testifying for a shorter or extended period of time.

Summary:

When carefully selected and utilized, expert witnesses can strengthen your case to opposing counsel and a jury.   By planning in advance why, when and how to make the best use of my expertise and experience, you and your client will have confidence in the expert witness you have selected.

 

Michal Longfelder, founder and principal of Employment Matters, is an employment attorney with an exclusive focus on workplace investigations, internal mediations and executive coaching.   She may be reached at WWW.EMPLOYMENTMATTERS-ML.COM michal@employmentmatters-ml.com

Tel: 415-297-3285

 

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