March 30, 2021 Articles

Ten Tips for Preparing Your Testifying Expert for Civil Trial

What have you done to prepare your expert? Is your expert last on your list or an afterthought? Remember: Your expert might need a lot of preparation.

By Mitchell J. Rotbert
When you engage an expert early in the progress of the case, you will discover facts and issues that may shape how you plead your case.

When you engage an expert early in the progress of the case, you will discover facts and issues that may shape how you plead your case.

Motortion, iStock

Discovery is closed. You have a trial date. All motions in limine have been decided, including any motion directed at expert testimony. The testimony of each witness that you intend to call is outlined, cued up with the exhibits and demonstratives that you intend to use; you have outlined and cued up your cross-examination, too. You have spent time with your client, presumably a key witness, on the testimony that he or she is prepared to give. Subpoenas are issued. You have even made a checklist of the non-legal stuff you want nearby at your desk in the courtroom: water bottles, pencils, pads, pens, paper towels, a laser pointer. All of your preparation, however (dis)organized before now, must now come together for one “really big show.”

But what have you done to prepare your expert? Is your expert last on your list or an afterthought? After all, you think, your expert is an expert, the author of his or her own report. Your expert knows what he or she is doing; that’s why he or she is an expert. You rationalize: “What prep does my expert need?” May I submit, your expert needs a lot, if not the most, prep. Do not presume that your expert is an expert in presenting conclusions in a cogent, engaging manner. Here are 10 tips that I use in preparing my testifying expert for trial in a civil case.

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