There are at least three other reasons to round out your professional life with expert witness consulting in the legal arena. Professionals that expand their activities to include expert work report that they found hidden benefits they hadn’t thought about before they threw their hat in the ring.
1) Generating More Expert Witness Consulting Work or Flexibility & Reputational Riches
The thing about expert witness work is that it’s different from your daily job. When you have studied and trained in a discipline for years, you become valued for a particular job. Peppering in expert consulting work can be refreshing. It can give you a break from the “same old” feeling of performing the same or similar daily routines. Variety is the spice of life, right?
With consulting work, you call the shots. You don’t have to take on a consulting project that doesn’t appeal to you or doesn’t fit your schedule. The freelance nature of this work gives you the flexibility to work when you want. Of course, the lawyer you’ll support will have deadlines and need your opinions or analysis by certain dates. The important thing to know is their timeline. By knowing their timeline, you can choose your consulting work windows in line with those deadlines.
Another hidden benefit of expert witness work is that it can raise your profile in your professional community. Whether you consult as a professor of material sciences, a doctor-specialist, or a working construction engineer, others may notice your work on a legal case. Legal cases require expert consultants when the factual issues present novel or complex, complicated technical issues that laypeople—the lawyer, jurors, or judges—can’t understand without your help. Word gets around when an expert’s insightful testimony, thorough analysis, or use of effective models or methods had an impact on a case. Increased visibility of your work can bring you more expert consulting opportunities, invitations to speak at conferences, or other recognition in your field.
2) Sharpening the Saw: Continuing Education
Knowledge is everything in highly-skilled, highly-credentialed occupations. Expert consulting keeps you continually learning in your area of expertise.
A legal case may cause you to see something you’ve been familiar with for years in a new light. Teaching a jury about the standard of care for a medical procedure may give you a new insight. Then, you can impress upon your residents or team the importance of something they’ll do every day in surgery. Or, bringing your knowledge of an area of medicine to the forefront of your mind may help you in an upcoming procedure. It might just spark you to take on more patients in this area and expand your medical practice.
Reviewing the materials failures in a case where an apartment building imploded may challenge your thinking in new ways. It could freshen your understanding of how and why things can go wrong. This might benefit you the next time you bid on a project involving the materials used in that situation. Clients like to see consultants gaining knowledge and applying that in their projects to avoid problems or validate their approach.
Attorneys may call on you to rebut the opposition’s expert testimony. In preparing for your rebuttal, you may need to study the medical literature the other expert gave in testimony. Your research for rebuttal on the opposition’s faulty analysis or irregular methods may expose you to good reminders on what to be wary of in your own or colleague’s work.
3) Helping People Get Justice
Psychologists tell us that our sense of justice is rooted in the expectation that people should behave in a way that keeps society functioning smoothly.
In all stages of a legal case, experts play a role in ensuring justice is achieved. A medical expert reviews case records and helps a lawyer develop a chronology of what happened during surgery. Afterward, critical issues on what a doctor did or didn’t do can become known. Helping a lawyer compare what was done to the standard of care for that specific medical procedure informs case strategy.
In many cases, without expert consultants, the legal system cannot get to the bottom of what happened to dispense justice. For example, your testimony on the medical care provided may help the jury see that a doctor is responsible for the injuries a plaintiff suffered. Your analysis and presentation of the facts to a jury are essential in the final determination. You play a role in ensuring that the jury holds whoever caused someone else’s personal or economic injuries accountable.
Often experts help the trier of facts calculate the economic loss. In securities fraud cases, economists often help calculate the intricacies of losses suffered in a moving stock market. When injuries prevent a victim from working and earning a living, experts help ascertain the awarded lost wages. Assessments of total expenses in a brain injury case require expertise on the injury healing, rehabilitation, and long-term care costs. These assessments are the basis for compensation to cover all the costs resulting from this or other injuries.
Don’t get us wrong—additional income from expert consulting can be quite lucrative and wonderful. But, you’ll also enjoy enhancing your reputation, continuing your education, and experiencing the feeling that you had a role in justice being done.