Winning a jury trial requires a strategic presentation of both facts and law. Even if a lawyer has evidence on his or her side, complex matters can be tough for a jury to understand. Therefore, it is regularly critical for attorneys to tap into the special knowledge of expert witnesses.
Civil liability often hinges on qualified witness expertise. Of course, an expert witness does not do a litigant much good if he or she is bad on the stand. While knowledgeable trial attorneys understand the importance of preparing witnesses for testimony, prepping expert witnesses presents some unique challenges. Here are three tips for ensuring that expert witnesses are ready for their direct examinations:
1. Recognize the challenge
Expert witnesses are useful to a lawyer’s case because they are experts. This fact, though, may make preparation difficult. That is, if an expert witness has extreme confidence in his or her area of expertise, preparation may seem unnecessary. Lawyers must recognize this challenge and work to mitigate it. They must also ensure that all expert witnesses have an in-depth knowledge of the facts of the case. After all, if a witness misstates or misunderstands facts, his or her expert testimony may not hold much weight.
2. Find the right location
While experts make influential witnesses, they also tend to be busy. Therefore, when prepping an expert witness, good lawyers find the right location for the job. This place is usually somewhere that is free from distractions. Lawyers should also set aside sufficient time for witness prep, recognizing they may need more than one session.
3. Provide some education
While lawyers likely cannot add much to a witness’s subject-matter expertise, they play an invaluable role in educating the individual about other matters. For example, an attorney may need to walk the witness through the litigation process. The lawyer may also need to help an expert witness understand all relevant legal standards.
Successful lawyers often rely on the testimony of expert witnesses. Nonetheless, a good attorney understands the importance of witness prep. Put simply, with a bit of effort and some time, lawyers can make sure that all expert witnesses are ready to take the stand.