Is the Expert Qualified?

Before being called upon as an expert witness, the court must examine the witness’s qualifications and credentials. Since there are many types of expert witnesses, legal teams must not only look at the witness’s experience and proficiency in their field, but also how the witness presents him or herself in court.

Federal Law 702 states that an expert opinion may be admissible if the opinion assists the court and jury, and if the expert is qualified. Below is a list of some of the qualifications one needs to serve as an expert witness.

Education and Training

Attorneys primarily look at an expert witness’s education and training to determine their validity and credibility.

While no individual credential can serve as an overall basis to determine whether one is an “expert,” further factors, such as the area of educational specialization and any graduate degrees obtained, are also taken into consideration.

When selecting an expert witness, many attorneys favor years of formal education and specialized licenses or degrees, although these are not the only requirements.

Experience and Skills

Beyond specialized degrees and training, expert witnesses have years of experience in their field.

Attorneys examine the positions the expert witness has held following their formal education, how long they held a position, membership in any professional organizations or associations, and any testing completed to ensure the expert witness’s knowledge on the subject matter.

Perhaps most importantly, attorneys use an expert witness’s experience to determine whether they have the ability to clearly articulate dense and often technical jargon to a jury in a way that is immediately understandable and comprehensive.

Strong Credibility and Reputation

In order to qualify as an expert witness, it is important that the attorney and the court find the witness favorable and credible. While having specialized education and years of fieldwork remains crucial, the following mistakes can disqualify anyone from serving as an expert witness:

  • Consistently offering biased opinions
  • Failing to support conclusions with facts
  • Claiming knowledge that is beyond the witness’s expertise
  • Failing to appear before the court
  • Inconsistent articulation of technical terms

An expert witness who is able to present him or herself in an honest, consistent, and professional demeanor is always favored.

Court and Legal Experience

Attorneys are more likely to select a witness who has testified and/or prepared a deposition for a case before over someone who appears to have little experience or knowledge of the legal and judicial system.

Hearing an expert witness’s testimony is only a small portion of the work required of them.

Other responsibilities of an expert witness include:

  • Gathering and reviewing evidence
  • Evaluating the quality of any evidence related to the expert witness’s field
  • Examining articles in peer-reviewed literature, including “gray literature”
  • Preparing testimony with an attorney to review tone, appearance, and vocabulary

An expert witness must have an understanding, knowledge, or experience of how court cases work and must spend hours reviewing, preparing, and writing depositions.

A Fully-Qualified Expert Witness

The expert witness remains a public servant and should therefore always be prepared to present his or her testimony when called upon by an attorney. Fulfilling each of these desired requirements is sure to make any expert witness a preferred choice among attorneys.

Litigation Legal Insight is a Los Angeles based expert witness directory, with connections to hundreds of experts from a multitude of disciplines. Contact our team today and get connected to the right expert for your case. All of our experts are extensively trained and have years of experience in their selected fields.