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August 30, 2019 Practice Points

Succeed in Preparing an Expert Witness File

Six tips for young associates prepping expert depositions for the first time.

By Richard Tabura

Prepping a file for a senior attorney to take the deposition of an opposing expert for your first time can be daunting. The expert’s field can involve complex scientific, medical, and/or mathematical concepts. And if you are anything like me, you went to law school to avoid these topics. That’s how I used to look at things. But now working with experts and preparing expert materials is enjoyable—you learn new things, new subjects, and work with smart people. Here are some general tips I have picked up along the way that I wish I would have known the first time I prepared an expert witness file:

  • Reach out to the senior attorney who will be taking the deposition and take the time to understand what they want. Each attorney has a different style. Some like huge files while others know exactly what they want.
  • Reach out to your colleagues to see if they have prepped for a similar expert. This should be obvious. Speak up and ask. There is a good chance someone has a template you can work from and nobody will think twice that you are asking.
  • Presumably you will have an expert to compete with the opposing expert. Reach out to your expert by phone and ask them what resources you should be looking at and what questions to ask the opposing expert.
  • Know the applicable standard for excluding experts. Does your jurisdiction apply the Daubert standard? Frye? This will help frame your questions to set up potential motions to exclude.
  • Know what the applicable standards, ethical obligations, regulations, and/or customs are for the expert being deposed. This will provide lots of fodder for questions. Reach out to your expert to figure out what the appropriate standards are.
  • Be a master sleuth. This can be difficult when the opposing expert is a “professional expert.” Locate as many of their depositions as possible. See if they have said anything in the past that you can use to cross-examine them with. Carefully inspect their CV. Find every publicly available piece of information possible. Once in a while you’ll find a juicy bit of information that you can use during the deposition or in a motion to exclude.

Every expert is different, but the tips above should apply for most expert depositions. Give yourself lots of time to prepare the materials and try to enjoy the process.

Richard Tabura is an associate at Greenburg Traurig, LLP, in Los Angeles, California.

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