How does one become an expert witness in court?

Most expert witnesses start by developing a website and developing a niche. A niche is a small area of specialization that is very, very limited, in which they can dominate a given market. Once they have a web presence, many experts use directories of expert witnesses. SEAK has an excellent directory of expert witnesses and there are three of four other excellent directories of expert witnesses.

And by contacting lawyers, insurance companies, etc., who generally hire experts to testify on their behalf. Some fields have enormous competition, for example, with medical witnesses there is a lot of competition. They should not underestimate the power of lawyers and their experience, nor should they underestimate them when it comes to finding information. And the other thing is that you have to be the type of person who can “rock” in adversity.

Most of the time, new experts don't get advance agreements, they don't get paid in advance, they don't get paid anything, they charge very little, they do things they wouldn't be proud of later on. As experts generally age, after reaching their fifties or sixties, many of them tend to retire from their normal, regular professions, and then some of them dedicate themselves to testifying as full-time experts. So they may have been civil engineers for thirty years, and now that they're 65, they retire from being civil engineers and going to the office every day, but they're more or less experts full time. If you are a high-level expert and have experience that is hard to come by, some lawyers can take you to the other side of the country at a considerable cost because they want your kind of experience.

If you are the type of person who is intellectually curious, you like to solve problems, you like to analyze complex situations and try to simplify them, you like to find solutions, you are eloquent, you like to work in a fast-paced environment, then I think you would like to be an expert witness. If the jury can't understand it, then the jury will get angry, think that the expert speaks to them with disdain or mocks them, or will simply discredit you because you are not eloquent enough to explain it. Each person can contribute their own experiences, but if you put twelve people together, they are very intelligent, and the expert has to summarize the information he spent ten or twenty years learning in half an hour or an hour, and be able to explain it in a way that can be understood. They will be “knocked out of the box” and disqualified, and once you are disqualified as an expert in one case, you could be somewhat dragged into the next case.

Some experts are limited to a region, others to a state, others to the Northeast, and some experts travel nationwide. In addition, they have to stay within their true area of expertise and not get involved in tangential issues that will drag them down and make them much more vulnerable to cross-examination. They are engineers, they do their engineering work, they build bridges, etc., and in their spare time or during certain parts of the day or week, they provide advice and testify to expert witnesses. But that doesn't mean you can't do it right yet, because it takes a lot of experience.

Molly Keeny
Molly Keeny

Alcohol practitioner. General coffee fanatic. Amateur introvert. Lifelong social media specialist. Friendly beer advocate. General tv buff.