Whenever you have retained an expert witness to testify in your case—whether in deposition or at trial—you need to prepare yourself and the expert. Don’t just sit back and assume that the expert, who many have testified many times before, has it all worked out. You need to be up to speed on his or her testimony and to make sure the expert has enough information to be effective.
Use this checklist to be sure you cover the bases when preparing your expert to testify:
__ 1. Critically review the facts of the case. Make sure that the expert’s opinion has a judicially sound basis.
__ 2. Review the expert’s qualifications.
__ 3. Review any relevant works (books, articles, presentations) written or produced by the expert.
__ 4. Review all materials consulted or relied on by the expert.
__ 5. Review general information to acquire a working knowledge of the subject matter and terminology in the field.
__ 6. Have the expert prepare resume or curriculum vitae.
__ 7. Review with the expert all relevant facts and evidence.
__ 8. Explain the applicable law, including relevant legal theories and defenses.
__ 9. Practice direct examination.
__ 10. Practice cross-examination, anticipating the scope of opposing counsel’s examination or cross-examination of expert.
__ 11. Review with the expert all publications or scholarly works that will be referred to.
__ 12. Review with the expert attorney-client, work product, or other problems or privileges.
__ 13. Review with the expert the location of deposition or trial as well as general decorum, such as what to wear.
__ 14. Review deposition or trial procedures, e.g., where to sit, questions by judge or jurors.
__ 15. Inform the expert as to which parties and attorneys will be present, along with their interest in the litigation.
__ 16. Inform the expert of any habits or idiosyncrasies of other attorneys who will be present at deposition or trial.
__ 17. Review with the expert the contents of the expert’s file; review what to bring to deposition or trial and what not to bring.
__ 18. Explain that an expert may express an opinion and the grounds on which such an opinion is permissible.
__ 19. Explain the rules on hypothetical questions.
__ 20. Instruct the expert to answer all questions politely and succinctly without being humorous, evasive, or combative.
__ 21. Instruct the expert not to attempt to render opinions on areas outside his or expertise.
__ 22. Instruct the expert to avoid technical language if possible or to thoroughly explain the meaning of the language if unavoidable.
__ 23. Instruct the expert to be candid about compensation.
__ 24. Instruct the expert on objection procedures and how to respond to objections.
__ 25. Instruct the expert to avoid arguments with other counsel.
Get guidance on all aspects of witness preparation in CEB’s California Trial Practice: Civil Procedure During Trial, chap 5. On preparing an expert witness for deposition and trial, turn to CEB’s California Expert Witness Guide, chap 12.
Other CEBblog™ posts you may find useful:
- Choosing an Expert Witness: Insider or Outsider?
- 5 Steps to Preparing an Expert Witness to Do Battle
- Expert Advice: An Expert’s Tips on What to Look for in an Expert Witness
© The Regents of the University of California, 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.