By James J. Mangraviti, Jr., Esq.
Expert witnesses who thoroughly prepare are far more likely to excel during their depositions. The benefits to diligent preparation include the following:
• increased confidence and peace of mind for the expert and
• increased likelihood that the expert will testify to the best of his ability.
SEAK recommends several strategies for adequate deposition preparation:
• Hold a pre-deposition conference with retaining counsel.
o During deposition, however, opposing counsel is allowed ask questions regarding the pre-deposition conference. It is unwise to be defensive or evasive when asked about the meeting.
o The expert should request that retaining counsel hold an extensive mock deposition with him. This will help familiarize the expert with possible areas of questioning at deposition.
o It is wise to go over other critical information such as the status of the litigation, housekeeping details, the pertinent legal standard, the amount of detail counsel would like the expert to provide, and any Daubert issues that counsel foresees.
• The expert should prepare thoroughly on his own. This involves the following steps:
o Having a full, complete, and exhaustive knowledge of the facts in the case.
o Knowing one’s CV cold.
o Possessing intimate and complete familiarity with any reports or other documents that the expert has authored or signed in the case.
o Personally touching every piece of paper in the file.
o Organizing the file oneself to allow quick and easy access to information even while under great stress.
o Thinking of the most difficult questions that counsel might ask and being prepared to truthfully and artfully reply to them.
o Being able to express and defend each and every opinion the expert has expressed in the case.
• Finally, if there is not enough time to prepare, the expert should have the deposition rescheduled.
James J. Mangraviti, Jr., Esq., has trained thousands of expert witnesses through seminars, conferences, corporate training, training for professional societies, and training for governmental agencies including the FBI, IRS, NYPD, Secret Service, and Department of Defense. He is also frequently called by experts, their employers, and retaining counsel to train and prepare individual expert witnesses for upcoming testimony. Mr. Mangraviti assists expert witnesses one-on-one with report writing, mentoring, and practice development. He is a former litigator who currently serves as Principal of the expert witness training company SEAK, Inc. (www.testifyingtraining.com). Mr. Mangraviti received his BA degree in mathematics summa cum laude from Boston College and his JD degree cum laude from Boston College Law School. Mr. Mangraviti has designed dozens of expert witness training programs and has personally taught experts in a group setting over 200 times since 1997. He is the co-author of thirty books, including:
How to Be an Effective Expert Witness at Deposition and Trial: The SEAK Guide to Testifying as an Expert Witness How to Be a Successful Expert Witness: SEAK’s A–Z Guide to Expert Witnessing How to Write an Expert Witness Report; How to Prepare Your Expert Witness for Deposition; The Biggest Mistakes Expert Witnesses Make and How to Avoid Them; and How to Market Your Expert Witness Practice: Evidence-Based Best Practices.
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