Whether you’ve worked as an expert before or you’re just beginning your foray into expert work, you can take steps to stand out among other potential experts. These steps increase your chances of being retained as an expert witness on cases within your scope of expertise.
Keep Your CV Updated
An updated CV communicates to attorneys that you are actively practicing, researching, and/or teaching in your field of expertise. It shows that you’re on top of advances in the field. When your CV includes current, ongoing work or teaching experience, it also demonstrates that you communicate with non-experts on a regular basis. This is the first place you can demonstrate to attorneys how valuable your skills could be to a case.
An outdated CV decreases your chance of being retained as an expert witness. An out of date CV could imply that you’ve stepped away from active work in your field. It could also send the message that you’re not looking for consulting opportunities. If you’re looking to take on more expert witness consulting opportunities, the best practice is to periodically update your CV.
Nail Down Your Hourly Fee
For most attorneys looking for expert witnesses, their first question is “How much will it cost to work with this expert?”. When you have a clear, competitive hourly fee in mind, you can readily answer this question. You clarify the terms of the relationship (and your value) early, and you set a starting point for further discussion with the attorney.
To determine an appropriate hourly fee, research fees set by other expert witnesses with similar training and experience. Or talk to a custom expert witness recruiter who can help you set your financial and other terms.
Make Yourself Easy to Contact
When an attorney has two or three qualified expert witnesses in mind, the first one to be hired is often the first one who responds to the attorney.
You can be this expert by responding promptly to emails and phone calls. While it may be tempting to hesitate taking on a new case as you consider your other obligations, remember that your initial response merely demonstrates your interest. You’ll have time to work out scheduling and other plans once you understand precisely what the case demands.
Stay Active Online and In Real Life
Today, attorneys turn to social media when they want to know more about a potential expert witness. Consequently, an updated LinkedIn profile is as important as an updated CV. In fact, it’s wise to update both your profile and CV at the same time to ensure consistent information.
In addition to maintaining an updated presence on social media, staying active in your field can increase your chance of being retained as an expert. Attending—or even better, speaking at—industry events, professional associations, and conferences will increase your credibility as an expert in your field. It’s especially important to stay engaged if you have retired from practice. This engagement demonstrates that you’re still aware of the best practices used in your field. Make it a point to stay connected to your industry!
Demonstrate Interest in Cases
If an attorney approaches you for feedback on a case’s fact pattern, take time to participate in a preliminary review. By engaging in a preliminary review, you demonstrate an interest in the attorney’s case, which increases your chances of retention.
Read the facts carefully. Make note of any facts that stand out to you, as well as facts or data that may be missing. Note any questions you have for the attorney, and be sure to ask them. This process will also help you develop a sense of the work the case will require, aiding your own planning.