By James J. Mangraviti, Jr., Esq.

Attorneys typically go through a three-step process when they prepare for cross-examination of an adverse expert witnesses. This three-step process includes the following.

First, the attorney prepares a detailed investigation of the expert. This could include the following:

  • a careful review of the expert’s CVs, education, writings, and presentations,
  • a careful review of the expert’s Rule 26 or other written reports,
  • a careful review of the expert’s prior testimony in the case at hand and other cases,
  • Internet searches,
  • a careful review of the expert’s Web pages and social media, and
  • hiring a private investigator to “dig up dirt” on the expert.

Second, the attorney will analyze the above information to decide where the expert is likely to be vulnerable during cross-examination.

Third, the attorney will strategize for the cross-examination of the expert witness. This usually involves the following steps.

  • The attorney asks himself if he should cross-examine the witness at all. Will doing so do more harm than good?
  • Establishing the goals of the cross-examination. These could include eliciting admissions, concessions, or facts that support counsel’s case; undermining the expert’s credibility; and destroying the expert.
  • Finding an “X factor” to use against the expert.
  • Constructing a plan to start strong and to end strong.


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. (  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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