What Should be Included in an Expert Witness Retainer Agreement

All expert witnesses should have a well-drafted expert witness retainer agreement before providing expert witness services. The expert witness retainer agreement is a contract between the attorney that is retaining the expert and the expert witness.  The well drafted expert witness contract should of course cover issues such as the rate of compensation, when payment is due, retainer amount, and expenses. What many expert witness retainer or retention agreements fail to cover however are the rights and responsibilities of the expert witness and the attorney who is hiring them.  Such a failure leads to many avoidable problems.

Issues which should be dealt with in a well drafted expert witness contract include:

  • when and for what reasons can the expert witness withdraw from the assignment,
  • what occurs if counsel fails to pay the expert witness promptly,
  • the scope of the expert witness services to be provided (i.e. the role of the expert witness in the case),
  • extent of expert witness liability,
  • what counsel needs to do when the qualifications or methodology (Daubert/Frye) of the expert witness are challenged in an attempt to limit or disqualify the expert witness from testifying,
  • what happens when the case is transferred to another law firm,
  • who is responsible for obtaining the fees for the expert witness deposition, etc.

The expert witness who enters into a new assignment without a signed comprehensive retainer or retention contract does so at his or her own peril.

SEAK Inc., the expert witness training company, has developed a standard retention agreement for expert witnesses. SEAK’s expert witness contract has been peer reviewed by attorneys, expert witnesses, and judges and is currently being used successfully by over 1,500 expert witnesses nationally.

For additional information about SEAK’s expert witness contract, please click below.