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Considerations for Finding and Vetting an Expert

Olivia Matte

Considerations for Finding and Vetting an Expert
Thomas Barwick via Getty Images

Litigation experts make or break your case. Yet, it can be difficult to find the right one, especially in a niche area. Knowing who to look for and how to look for them will make the process easier.

1. Assess Your Venue

The first step to finding an expert is to assess your venue to understand your potential jurors. I once had a partner tell me that no jury in the Deep South will respect a northerner. Limiting my search to the Deep South wasn’t even a consideration of mine, but it was a crucial lesson. The closer the expert is to the venue, the more relatable that expert becomes. Some considerations when assessing your venue are:

  • What’s the education level?
  • Is it primarily liberal or conservative?
  • What is the demographic makeup?
  • What type of people will draw the locals’ attention?
  • What type of people will they respect?

2. Find an Expert

The second step is to actually find an expert or two to “interview.” There are many services out there that will charge you in excess of $5,000 to find one. Or you can turn to other more cost-effective resources, such as asking your colleagues, directories, or online advertisements, and cold-calling them. This is a time consuming, but often billable task.

3. Vet Your Expert

The third step is the vetting process. It’s often beneficial to meet with your potential expert in person, or via webcam if they are not close by, to assess their presentability. The tough questions that you should have answers to after your initial call are:

  • Will they testify favorably for your client’s position?
  • Do they present well?
  • Are they able to meet your deadlines?
  • Do they have trial experience?

Litigation experts are extremely valuable, as they’re often the main driver of your case. It’s important to consider your audience at trial, and whether the potential jurors will connect with your expert. Putting in extra time finding and vetting them on the front end will pay off.