Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Don't Miss Out on Key Expert Practice Info

I have mentioned attorney blogs before as being full of valuable information for experts as well as another way to find out about and reach potential clients. Attorneys have blogs based on jurisdiction, subject matter, and numerous other niche topics. You can find the best ones for you through lists such as Blawg or taxonomies like 3L Epiphany , which can be a goldmine of information once you explore it a bit.

For example, medical experts of all types from around the United States should be following the legal proceedings regarding professional medical associations in relation to expert testimony. See the blog post by Rick Shapiro last week - "Lawyers Battle On For The Doctors Who Testify In The Courtroom".

Or, for insights helpful to experts of all kinds, you can find advice from attorneys to other attorneys regarding expert witnesses, such as the recent podcasts by Evan Schaeffer on "Advanced Deposition Techniques" or the Trial Lawyer Resource Center , a blog with posts from many trial lawyers addressing multiple issues and topics. Use the 'search site' tool to look for your key words; put in "expert witness" and get an attorney's view of the five most important questions to ask an expert witness at deposition.

One potential resource, which I must admit I was hesitant to even visit, could be YouTube . Various depositions and advice about depositions have been posted there in recent weeks. Try different searches such as "deposition", "expert witness", and terms specific to your practice.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Lesson Learned (Again)

Why do we so often forget the lessons we've learned? Why, when something is working, do we stop doing it?

More than once an expert has contacted us saying, "Last year at this time, I had tons of cases. Now I have nothing."

When asked, "What were you doing last year that you aren't now?" the response is something like, "Oh, I was just attending section meetings at the local bar association and sending out professional announcements to my contact list every few months."

"So why did you stop?"

"Well, business was good."

DUH! (This also illustrates that marketing is not something you only do when business is bad - but that's a whole 'nother article.)

I am guilty of doing the same thing in many aspects of life. For example, I know that I feel better and have more energy when I drink a lot of water. But it's not until I've been feeling sluggish for awhile that I remember that and starting drinking more water! It was working, so why did I forget?

If your business has fallen off or any other area of your life is not quite up to par, ask yourself, "What was I doing differently when things were going well?" and start doing those things again!

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Establishing Expert Independence

Establishing an expert's objectivity is critical not only in concrete ways but in others' perception of it. In an article in The Chattanoogan, Mike Costello addresses this issue:
Experts may never seem totally independent because they are being paid for their services. But, the apparent lack of independence may be nothing more than the appearance of a relationship between parties, even though no relationship exists.

As we always stress, you are NOT an advocate - that is the attorney's job but this is a good reminder that fact and appearance are two different concepts in the courtroom. Opposing counsel's job is to discredit your testimony, and as Mr. Costello writes:
The attempt to impeach an expert because of relationships with counsel or the client, the amount of fees charged, or contingent fee arrangements is common in today's legal environment.

Also in this article are tips to establishing independence that include not altering your billing rate and practices for different client-attorneys, keeping a balance of plaintiff and defendant work, and discussing any potential 'gray areas' upfront with counsel at the very beginning.

Good advice and a reminder that just because WE know something to be true and done with integrity doesn't guarantee that it appears that way or that it can't be made to appear otherwise.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Have You Been Named as an Expert?

The discussion about being named as an expert without permission or retention by the attorney continues to bring in additional questions but few answers. (If you missed it, you can download the PDF "DWP - Expert Designation Responses" from the right column of this blog).

One of the most frequent inquiries is about how to find out if you've been designated without your permission. I know of many places to find records and transcripts of expert depositions and testimony, but have yet to find something like this. Often, when an expert is named in this way, it is to encourage a settlement based on the esteemed reputation of that expert. So the matter never gets to court, where the records would be more easily found.

Have any of you found a way to research this? How do you usually find out that you've been designated by an attorney (especially if the attorney has never even contacted you before)?