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Best Practices and Guidance on Hiring an Expert Witness

choosing an expert witness

When you're faced with the SEC or a FINRA hearing, whether in court, an arbitration, or a hearing due to regulatory action being taken against you or your firm, you'll probably be considering bringing on an expert witness to help your case.

An expert witness can be a major asset for your case - if it's the right witness, it can make a huge impact on determining the outcome.

But how do you know when it's time to hire an expert witness, or if an expert witness is even necessary or a good idea? What should you be looking for when selecting an expert witness?

With the help of our experienced expert witness, Dave Sobel, we'll discuss the best practices for hiring an expert witness, including what to look for, the questions you should be asking, and how to find the best expert witness for your particular matter.

Why does your expert witness need to be a "specialist"?

If you've never had to testify, you may think it'd be helpful to simply get someone experienced in a particular field (such as the financial industry), even if they are not a "specialist" on a specific topic relevant to your case.

This is absolutely not the case.

Your expert witness truly needs to be an expert on what they're talking about. They're going to be cross examined, and everything about their experience and expertise related to your case in particular is going to be called into question. If the expert witness on your side isn't specialized on the topic your case centers on, it can be worse than if you didn't have an expert witness at all.

Additionally, it's essential to be aware that an expert witness should not be viewed as your advocate in the case. Rather, the expert is tasked with providing their opinion, based on life experiences, which may or may not be in your interest. Therefore, before engaging an expert to take the stand, have them review the case, and see what their opinion is. If their opinion isn't a favorable one for your position, then perhaps they may not be the best expert witness for your particular case. In other instances, you may find that while the expert's opinion is in alignment, they simply don't lend themselves well to testifying on the subject matter.

When To Look For An Expert Witness

As many cases that require the help of an expert witness months prior to testimony, it is prudent to start the selection process early on.

Finding the right expert witness for your particular situation may take time. The person you'll want as an expert witness for a private equity case is unlikely to be the same person that would provide expert services on suitability and valuation of option transactions.

Finding an expert witness takes time, and that witness will also need as much time as possible to prepare for your case. They'll need to review all pertinent documentation, and work closely with you and your attorney to ensure that they understand all aspects of the case. If a deposition or expert brief is required, additional preparations and time allotments also are required.

How do you find the right expert witness for your case?

While simply using Google to find an expert witness is an option, a better place to start is by asking counsel - either your own, or others that can provide a referral for someone experienced in your particular subject matter.

For many attorneys, they'll look through their network for a firm or referral such as Jacko Law Group, where we have several experienced team members that can and often do act as expert witnesses.

As you're selecting your expert witness, a primary consideration is whether the testimony will be only oral, or if a report will also be required.

As you're searching for an expert witness, work with your attorney on interviewing them before agreeing to work with them. You'll need someone quick on their feet, who can confidently and accurately respond to questioning on the stand. Additionally, they'll have to stand up to questioning not just from the opposing side, but from the panel presiding over the case as well.

A qualified and experienced expert witness should be asking you plenty of questions as they prepare for your case. Your expert witness will require just about all documentation related to the case - starting with the statement of claim, and the answer.

You'll also want to be sure that they are willing and able to tell you what they don't know. This is extremely important and often underrated - you'll want your expert witness to be able to say, on the stand, that they aren't an expert in a topic when they are not, and decline to give an opinion they're unable to defend it.

Be confident in your attorney as well as your expert witness.

When preparing for your case, you'll want to be as confident as possible in the abilities of your attorney as well as your expert witness. For help in selecting counsel as well as experienced expert witnesses for your case, schedule time to talk Jacko Law Group by clicking here to submit a request.

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