More and more expert witnesses are reporting that retaining counsel are either unwilling or unable to properly prepare them for their depositions and trials. Why would an attorney spend thousands of dollars on an expert witness and not properly prepare them?

Trial attorney and SEAK trainer and attorney Nadine Nasser Donovan explains.

Q. Attorney Donovan, how often are expert witnesses poorly prepared by retaining counsel?

This happens more often than it should, probably because of time and monetary considerations.

Q. Why would a retaining attorney not spend the time to properly prepare their expert witness?

Simply put, to save time and money.  Attorneys have packed schedules and often have unexpected “fires” that they must put out, particularly leading up to the trial. These last-minute events tend to jam attorney schedules, and may end up taking precedence over expert witness meetings.  Attorneys may also avoid or limit preparation sessions to minimize expert witness fees.  Both of these factor into why a retaining attorney would not devote the time to properly prepare their expert witness.

Q. Why do even experienced expert witnesses need to be prepared for deposition and trial?

Every case is different and has its own set of materials, facts, opinions and bases for opinions (on both sides of the case), that must be understood and mastered by the testifying expert.  This process takes time and preparation no matter how seasoned an expert may be. While experienced experts might be more comfortable with the procedural parts of the process, they must bring their “A game” on form and substance each time they testify.  Why?  See below.

Q. Why should an expert witness be concerned about lack of preparation?

Each deposition or trial testimony becomes a permanent part of the expert’s testimony portfolio.  What that means is that attorneys in all future cases can confront an expert with prior testimony under oath.  One bad showing or poorly worded or expressed opinion will follow an expert forever and could be career-ending.

Also, experts should consider each deposition or trial testimony as a marketing opportunity for their expert witness practice.  Being unprepared reflects badly on an expert’s reputation and is a missed opportunity to impress counsel (on both sides of the case) and secure more consulting work.

Attorney Donovan will be speaking at the SEAK National Expert Witness Conference to be held on May 3-4, 2014 in Orlando, FL.

How to Prepare to Testify at Deposition and Trial

Nadine Nasser Donovan Esq.

One of the major ways an expert witness builds a successful practice is to master the art of effectively and comprehensively preparing for trial and deposition testimony. Attorney Donovan will explain and demonstrate with examples how expert witnesses can and should properly prepare for their deposition and trial testimony.  She will discuss what material should be reviewed to prepare for testimony, how to deal with voluminous amounts of material, and the role of retaining counsel in the preparation process.  Attorney Donovan will offer practical advice, strategies and techniques for successful preparing for deposition and trial testimony.

Nadine Nasser Donovan, Esq., is a former trial lawyer with extensive litigation experience. Ms. Donovan is a S.E.A.K. consultant, providing one-on-one training for expert witnesses in the areas of report writing, and preparation for deposition and trial testimony.  She is currently a partner in the Boston-based firm of Mulvey, Ennis, Keefe, and Donovan, LLC. Her practice area includes the defense of medical professionals in medical malpractice actions and before medical licensing boards. In addition, Ms. Donovan is a Legal Writing Instructor at Boston University School of Law, and an Adjunct Professor at New England Law, Boston, where she teaches a course in Medical Malpractice. She previously practiced litigation in New York City, first as a prosecutor in Queens, and then as counsel for the City of New York. Ms. Donovan received her J.D. cum laude from Boston College Law School. She graduated from Fordham University summa cum laude with a B.A. in French Literature.