Most civil cases never go to trial. The only testimony given in the case will be at deposition. Expert witnesses commonly testify in 15-20 depositions for every trial appearance they make.
Expert witnesses need to excel at their depositions. This will allow them to provide the highest quality work product and encourage repeat and word of mouth referrals.
Many expert witnesses mistakenly rely on retaining counsel to provide feedback regarding how they did at their deposition. The problem with this approach is that retaining counsel rarely has the time or incentive to accurately critique the performance of the expert witness at deposition. Retaining counsel will simply not go over the transcript or tape of the deposition on a line by line basis, tell the expert when he made mistakes, explain how he could have answered truthfully but more artfully, or point out the traps the expert witness fell into and how these traps could have been avoided. When asked for feedback retaining counsel will ordinarily reply, “You did fine,” “Good Job” or the like. Such replies avoid the wasting of time as well as a potentially unpleasant conversation.
We have found that an independent critique of their deposition is one of the simplest, and most cost-effective ways for expert witnesses to quickly improve at deposition. Such a critique involves a careful word-by-word review of the deposition and the provision of a laundry list of concrete, specific suggestions for improvement.
We have seen expert witnesses demonstrate dramatic improvements after they are provided with such a line-by-line analysis and critique of their deposition. We have found that even expert witnesses who have given numerous depositions exhibit many bad habits. This is because (for the reasons previously mentioned) most expert witnesses have never received a detailed and independent review of their depositions.