We are often asked if retired people can do expert witness work. The short answer is, yes. Expert witnesses in Federal Court are governed by Federal Rule of Evidence 702, which states:
Rule 702. Testimony by Expert Witnesses
A witness who is qualified as an expert by knowledge, skill, experience, training, or education may testify in the form of an opinion or otherwise if:
(a) the expert’s scientific, technical, or other specialized knowledge will help the trier of fact to understand the evidence or to determine a fact in issue;
(b) the testimony is based on sufficient facts or data;
(c) the testimony is the product of reliable principles and methods; and
(d) the expert has reliably applied the principles and methods to the facts of the case.
As you can see, nowhere in the rule is there a prohibition against retired expert witnesses.
In fact, many of the expert witnesses that we work with become experts or dramatically expand their practices after they are “retired.” Indeed, expert witnessing can be a very attractive pursuit for retired people because:
- The startup costs are negligible.
- Overhead is very low.
- Retirees have significant experience under their belts
- Most expert witness work can be done from your home office.
- People who are not working full time often have more flexible schedules, and expert witnesses need to have some flexibility in their schedules.
- The work is intellectually stimulating.
- You can make a good amount of money serving as an expert witness (hundreds of dollars per hour).
- You work for yourself with no office politics
How long can you continue to serve as an expert witness? We commonly train and work with expert witnesses in their eighties. We know of at least two expert witnesses who have successfully continued performing expert witness work into their nineties.
Not every type of expert witness work is right for every retiree. For example, medical malpractice standard of care experts often are legally or practically required to have been in active practice at the time of the event in question.
In order to continue doing this work well into your retirement we recommend that you find niches that do not rely on recent hands-on experience. It is also a good idea to keep as healthy as possible. Attorneys may shy away from hiring an expert witness who doesn’t project confidence and health.
If you are looking for a lucrative, stimulating, and relatively low risk retirement endeavor, you should absolutely consider expert witnessing. For more information, please see the free SEAK White Paper, How to Start and Build an Expert Witness Practice.