How to Get Going Providing Expert Witness Services
Providing expert witness services is, in a certain sense, a very simple and easy business to get into. The three practical things you will need are:
1) Some experience, knowledge, skill, or training that a litigator may find of use in a case.
2) A curriculum vitae (CV)
3) An expert witness fee schedule or expert witness contract.
Most people who choose to get into expert witness work already have experience and knowledge in a relevant area. Many also already have a CV. That means that all most people who want to start expert witness work will need to be in business is an expert witness fee schedule or expert witness contract. In fact, it’s actually far easier to get started with an expert witness practice than it is to open a lemonade stand. (Fox news recently reported that in New York City is takes 65 days to get through all the red tape and open a lemonade stand).
Generally no special certification is required to be an expert witness. No special “expert witness” license is required. Nor is an office required – many expert witnesses work out of their home offices.
One of the great challenges of expert witnesses comes from the fact that it is apparently so easy to get into this line of work. The problem is this. Expert witnessing is usually a one strike and you are out proposition. That means that since expert witness referrals are often driven by word of mouth, if an expert witness makes a serious error on their CV, in their retention agreement or during a case, the consequences of such a mistake are often career ending. This often happens to new expert witnesses and is known as crib death.
The bottom line is that expert witnessing is a service with an extremely low barrier to entry, that is easy to provide poorly and difficult to provide at the high level required to generate ongoing referrals. Training in the ins and outs of expert witnessing is highly recommended. In a one strike and you are out environment, those providing expert witness services will want to deliver a superior work product and avoid traps for the unwary. Obtaining appropriate training as an expert witness can make you much more likely to both deliver a superb work product and avoid preventable mistakes.
If expert witnessing appeals to you, to get started, I’d recommend the SEAK text, The A-Z Guide to Expert Witnessing