American Bar Association
General Practice, Solo, and Small Firm Division



Hunting Down the Experts

Once you have decided to use an expert, the search begins in earnest. You can tap into a vast array of resources to assist you in that quest:

1 Colleges, universities, and teaching hospitals provide an almost endless supply of individuals with outstanding credentials in a number of fields. Many of these individuals actually teach classes, which gives them the opportunity to develop their communications skills (as well as giving you the opportunity to observe them outside of your interview). Be careful to select one who has actual as well as theoretical experience.

2 Professional organizations exist in numerous fields. You can contact such organizations for lists of their members. If the information provided does not turn up your expert directly, you may get a referral by one of the people on the list to someone else who may prove satisfactory.

3 Trade organizations and associations can be useful sources for certain types of experts. For example, if you need a master carpenter to testify about construction techniques, why not turn to the local carpenters union?

4 Other lawyers provide another avenue of possible assistance. Often, lawyers will refer you to an expert they have previously used with success or to one used by an opponent who impressed them favorably. This is one of the benefits of networking.

5 Business contacts (including your clients) can be valuable sources of information. For example, if you need a real estate appraiser, you might contact local lenders, developers, and brokers about whom they use.

6 The Internet has recently developed into a major source of information (see "Witness Websites").

7 The library offers a tremendous source of information, particularly if you go to a specialized library for the field of expertise in which you need help. One option: Contact authors of the leading articles or books in the area that concerns you.

8 Many groups (private and public) have created expert witness directories. Some bar associations have generated such books, which contain listings of experts, their fields of expertise, and a summary of their qualifications.

9 Associations of experts can also prove useful. You can contact organizations that build groups of experts in various fields for assistance. One example is TASA, which advertises that it has more than 24,000 experts available (phone: 800/523-2319). Another association, Medically® Speaking, provides medical legal consultants (phone: 800/MED-SPKG). A third group, Forensic Technologies International Corporation, offers engineering and science experts (phone: 800/334-5701).

10 Legal periodicals provide advertising opportunities for expert witnesses. Experts who advertise run the gamut from aeronautical engineers to weather consultants.

11 The yellow pages can offer useful information, depending on the type of expertise you seek.


Source: Jeffrey Allen



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