How to Balance Expert Witness Consulting With Your Primary Job

Many professionals with robust industry experience have considered generating extra income by consulting on legal cases. You hear about a case and think, 'I could have been the expert explaining that to the jury.' But like many, you may dismiss the idea.

Carolyn Casey, J.D.

Written by
— Updated on November 24, 2021

How to Balance Expert Witness Consulting With Your Primary Job

You think it would be challenging to balance the extra work with your full-time job and other commitments. Besides, you don’t even know where to start. Plus, how would you find out about expert witness opportunities? With just a couple of tips, you’ll see it can all be balanced and make it happen with a few swift moves.

Determine How Much Time You Want to Commit

The great thing about being an expert witness is that experts are freelancers, so to speak. You stay in control and take on as little or as much work as you can handle or desire. You chose when and which cases you want to take on. If you’re too busy at your day job, you can always pass on an interview for a new expert consulting opportunity. Or when your workload looks lighter for the next few months, you can seek out consulting jobs.

The best way to keep the balance is to establish—and consistently update—how much time you want to commit to your expert work. If you can only budget a few hours every quarter, be forthcoming about your bandwidth with potential attorney client. Only take on matters that will fit conveniently into your schedule. And, of course, be sure to ask what kind of work will be involved in the case should you decide to participate.

Be Picky About the Consulting Work You Take on

It’s important to understand the several different types of consulting services that may be expected of an expert. It’s also important to be selective about the types you want to undertake. Being choosy will help you better balance your primary professional responsibilities with your part-time consulting work.

Consulting & Fact Analysis

Initially, an attorney may need an expert to review records to help them understand aspects of their case. The case could center on complicated medical, engineering, or information security issues, for example. They may hire you to review the records or develop a chronology of facts. Next, you’d discuss what you found and answer any questions. This assists the legal team with developing its case strategy. Additionally, this information will help an attorney prepare for negotiations or depositions.

The time commitment for reviewing records and developing a fact analysis depends on the volume of records involved. Before accepting an opportunity to serve as an expert witness, have a discussion about expectations with the hiring attorney. Ask how many pages of records you’ll need to review. A few dozen pages will, of course, be a lesser time commitment than a few hundred pages. You should also ask what type of analysis is required. Some attorneys will just want a verbal consultation. Others will want a written report or a data model. It will all depend on the case facts and the attorney’s case theory. Asking these questions before signing an engagement letter will ensure that both parties’ expectations are met.

Depositions

Another consulting type is deposition. This is a session where the lawyer interviews you on the record about the issues in the case where you have expertise. Additionally, your deposition answers could be used in court proceedings or settlement negotiations.

Typically, if you’ll be involved in a deposition, the hiring attorney will want to spend some time preparing with you before you go on the record. Again, ask the attorney’s expectations are for deposition preparation time. This should factor into your consideration before taking the case.

Courtroom Testimony

Of course, you may offer your expertise in the courtroom before the judge and jury. Juries rule on the facts of a case. Experts educate jurors on facts that require some expertise to understand. In a negligence action against a hospital, for example, the jury may need help understanding the particular standard of care. Specialized nurses and doctors frequently testify on such matters. Their expertise is necessary to explain any special circumstances of the procedure at issue to the jury.

Experts typically command higher fees for courtroom testimony than for consulting or depositions. However, court appearances also require extra preparation. As such, you’ll likely need to dedicate more time to the case. Historically, experts often must travel for court appearances. The attorney typically covers all travel expenses. Plus, these hours amount to additional time spent working on the case.

In light of the pandemic, many court appearances are now happening virtually. Ask your attorney client if the case you’re working on has the option for virtual arrangements. This option could open your time up for more consulting opportunities.

Let Someone Else Find Opportunities For You

One of the smartest moves for aspiring experts is to work with an expert witness provider. These organizations match experts with attorneys working on cases that require a specific kind of industry consultant. They promote your expert profiles to the right attorneys. Plus, they’ll handle the logistical heavy lifting to connect you with legal professionals.

The best expert witness providers, like Expert Institute, have a large client base and a steady flow of expert witness needs. Our staff speaks directly with attorneys to understand what expertise they need. This means we’ll share only matters matching your desired case type and time commitment. We also organize initial interviews between you and the hiring attorney. This takes much of the administrative burden off your plate. Best of all, as an expert, there’s no fee to work with Expert Institute. Just think of us as your free business development tool for expert witness consulting opportunities.

Interested in Becoming an Expert Witness?

The need for expert witnesses is vast. Every day, parties face lawsuits with complicated issues in the medical, construction, and design industries, to name only a few. The list is long and the demand for experts continues to grow as specialization becomes more common in the global economy. Why not explore? You might find a great legal match for your expertise.

Ready to become an expert? Get started here.

 

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