3 Simple Ways to Boost Your Chances of Getting Retained on a Case

Carolyn Casey, J.D.

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— Updated on June 11, 2021

3 Simple Ways to Boost Your Chances of Getting Retained on a Case

Although you’re an expert in your field, perhaps you’re not landing as many expert witness roles as you’d like. Your resume is impressive and you have robust industry experience. So why aren’t more hiring attorneys reaching out?

Many experts overlook the interview basics beyond a stellar profile or CV. In order to secure retention on a case, you must also demonstrate to an attorney why you’re a great fit. Much of it comes down to a little more effort on your part to provide a more personal touch.

The next time you have an opportunity to speak with a hiring attorney, try these three tips for increasing your chances of getting retained. You might be surprised at how a few basics can make a huge difference in snagging that next expert witness or consultant opportunity.

1) Hop on an Introductory Conference Call

The attorney-expert working relationship can make or break a case. Attorneys are looking for that elusive thing called rapport when evaluating experts. They want to hire someone that not only has the expertise but they can also work well with as they build their case. They want an expert who has the personal skills to support them during the always stressful journey of developing, settling, or trying a legal case. Even experts with sterling credentials sometimes don’t get the job because they don’t invest in developing a personal relationship with the hiring lawyer right from the first contact.

When you get wind of an expert witness opportunity, volunteer to hop on an introductory conference call. If the attorney or an intermediary suggests a call before you do, quickly accept and confirm the dates and times you are available. This introductory conference call is a way for the attorney to get to know you before retention. Don’t be afraid to make the call personal—reveal a hobby you have or ask them if they caught last night’s game. Finding points of connection can help build rapport. Plus, take the time to let them know you’re eager to support them in this case.

2) Offer a Video Call

In today’s remote work environments, video conference calls are professional lifelines. Seeing is believing, as the saying goes, and hiring attorneys appreciate a more personal connection with expert candidates via video. Additionally, eye contact and body language are important aspects of reading a new personality. Plus, attorneys want to get a sense of demeanor not just for the working relationship but also for presentation before a jury.

Nowadays, attorneys often leverage popular video technology (i.e., Zoom, WebEx, Microsoft Teams, or Google Hangouts). Whichever platform they suggest, always confirm the call. You can always acquaint yourself with a new technology beforehand. Plus, you don’t want to come across as difficult or non-tech-savvy.

Video calls also are a great way for both parties to get a sense of the potential work dynamic. The visuals make it easy to get a sense of whether there’s a positive connection. Plus, both parties will observe quick tempers, confusion, or a lack of patience. All of these might be indicators that this is not a good match.

Simply put, attorneys are looking for experts who can help them win their case. As they interview expert candidates, they are looking for differentiation—what insights and experience can this expert bring to my case? Their goal is to find the expert with the right expertise and credentials. But also, attorneys need to see that something extra to seal the deal.

This is where your specific experience can help. Convey your fit by bringing up relevant prior experience. Share a previous case you worked on where similar issues were present. Don’t wait for a follow-up email or a later conversation to highlight this. On the introductory call, share the case details and specifically how your expertise helped the issues at hand. Make the point that this background will help you quickly get up to speed on this prospective case. The attorney may also realize that your prior work can offer useful insights as they develop their case theory and strategy. Boost your chances of retention with a good anecdote on a related case showcasing your value.

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