How to Write a Curriculum Vitae (CV) For Expert Witness Work


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Hi, my name is Steve Babitsky. I’m the President of SEAK, and I’m here today with Attorney James Mangraviti from SEAK. We’re going to be talking about a curriculum vitae for expert witnesses.

Jim, why is it important for expert witnesses to have a curriculum vitae or CV?

Jim Mangraviti: A very simple reason, you’re not going to get hired without one. Any lawyer that’s looking to hire you as an expert witness is going to want to review your CV before they hire you, so you really need to have one.

Steve Babitsky: Is it crucial for experts to have a well written CV?

Jim Mangraviti: It is absolutely imperative that expert witnesses have a well written CV for two main reasons. Number one, as I mentioned before, the CV is the document that’s going to determine in part, maybe in large part, whether or not you actually get hired in the case. If you’ve got a CV that looks like crap, I’m sorry, it looks terrible, the lawyer is not going to hire you, so that’s number one. Number two, a CV is ammunition. What do I mean by that? Everything written in that CV can and will be used against you by opposing counsel to rip your throat out on cross examination and at deposition. You really have to have a well written CV one, to get the case, and two, so that the lawyer on the other side you are not giving that person ammunition to rip your head off.

Steve Babitsky: What are the special dynamics in writing a well-crafted CV?

Jim Mangraviti: I think it really feeds in to what I was just talking about. On one hand you want your CV to be accurate and you want to make yourself look good. On the other hand any exaggerations, any mistakes, any puffery, any stuff like that can be absolutely devastating on cross examination. Whereas on a resume you’re going in for a job interview you may be probed, you may be probed somewhat hard by the person interviewing you and a little puffery may be expected, in an expert witness situation any type of exaggeration, any type of inaccuracy, or any type of mistake and the lawyer will eat your lunch. You’re going to be all done. We see mistakes like that, Steve, over and over and over again in the experts that we work with. They’re avoidable, and that’s really the key.

Steve Babitsky: What actually should be on an expert’s CV?

Jim Mangraviti: One of the things that we see a lot of experts fail to do is put on their full contact information. We recommend both the cell phone and the email, why? Because expert witnesses need to be accessible. If you’re not accessible to the lawyer you’re not useful. The second thing I like to see on an expert witness CV is a head shot. Get a professional head shot. Go to a photographer because looks do matter in this. The lawyer that’s going to hire you wants to know what you look like, so you want to spend the time. No selfies, no nonsense like that. Get a professional head shot. We’ve seen experts with their CV’s, not making this up, the guy was holding up a fish, right? Crazy stuff that we’ve seen, you don’t want to do that.

You want to definitely have your work experience on there. You don’t want to talk about how much money you made, but you want to talk about what you did so that people can infer or understand what you know and what your areas of expertise are. You want to talk about you education, certainly, absolutely. You want to have your publications. You want to have your presentations. You want to have your awards. Maybe some other stuff depending upon if you invented something some patents, but that’s pretty much it.

Steve Babitsky: What common mistakes do we see, Jim, all of the time in expert CV’s?

Jim Mangraviti: Probably the most common mistakes are typographical errors. I could run out the film in this camera if I were to discuss with you here today all of the mistakes that we’ve seen in CV’s with the typographical errors and whatnot. Again, what’s heartbreaking about those and what drives me nuts is that they’re avoidable. You’ve really got to check your CV over to make sure that there are no typos or mistakes. We see poor formatting all of the time. Again, 100% avoidable. You want to avoid that. We see subjective characterizations. What the expert will say is, “I’m the world’s leading expert on . . .” Once we see that in the CV, Steve, we’ve done this so many times with experts, it’s really easy to pick them apart because it’s a subjective characterization. World’s leading? Who say this? Who said that? Nobody, they made it up themselves. You want to be careful with that.

The final thing we see, which is related to that, is exaggerations. The best CV’s, the CV’s that are most resistant to cross examinations, are one’s that are objective not subjective and that do not have exaggerations. One common example of an exaggeration is mischaracterizing, for example, a publication that an expert has listing themselves as a soul author when they were, in fact only a co author.

One of the most egregious examples of that I could give you is we had a guy, you were with me, we were training, and he wrote down publications. He had his name and he had this book. I remember this like it was yesterday. We bought the book because we’re anal, and we determined that not only did he not write the book, not only was he not contributing to the book, he was mentioned in the book, but he put under publications the name of this book he was just mentioned in. We absolutely destroyed this person’s credibility. It’s 100% avoidable.

Steve Babitsky: Can you give me an example, Jim, of how a cross examiner will hone in on these kind of mistakes in a CV?

Jim Mangraviti: Sure. Would you mind being a guinea pig?

Steve Babitsky: I’d be happy to, Jim.

Jim Mangraviti: Mr. Babitsky, is that right?

Steve Babitsky: Yes.

Jim Mangraviti: You’re here to tell the truth, is that right?

Steve Babitsky: Yes, I am.

Jim Mangraviti: Is it important that expert witnesses always tell the truth?

Steve Babitsky: Yes.

Jim Mangraviti: Always tell the whole truth, isn’t that right?

Steve Babitsky: Yes.

Jim Mangraviti: An expert witness who didn’t tell the truth wouldn’t be believable. Would you agree with that?

Steve Babitsky: I would.

Jim Mangraviti: That would be a very bad thing if an expert witness didn’t tell the truth. Isn’t that right.

Steve Babitsky: Yes.

Jim Mangraviti: Would you agree with me, sir, that an exaggeration is a form of not telling the truth?

Steve Babitsky: Well, it could be a form of not telling the truth, yes.

Jim Mangraviti: Certainly it’s not the whole truth, right?

Steve Babitsky: No, it isn’t.

Jim Mangraviti: All right, now this is a copy of your curriculum vitae, isn’t it?

Steve Babitsky: Yes.

Jim Mangraviti: On page one of your CV you indicate that you’ve lectured throughout the United States. Those are the words you used, correct?

Steve Babitsky: Yes.

Jim Mangraviti: All right, have you, in fact, lectured throughout the United States?

Steve Babitsky: Yes.

Jim Mangraviti: All right. The lectures that you’ve given are listed on page four of your CV. Is that a complete list?

Steve Babitsky: Yes, it is.

Jim Mangraviti: Isn’t it a fact, sir, that you’ve never lectured in the State of Maine?

Steve Babitsky: Maine is a small state. No, I’ve never lectured in Maine.

Jim Mangraviti: You’ve never lectured in Vermont, have you?

Steve Babitsky: Another small state, no I have not.

Jim Mangraviti: Let’s try a bigger state. How about Texas. You’ve never lectured in Texas, have you?

Steve Babitsky: Texas, Texas, Texas, no.

Jim Mangraviti: California, that’s another not so small state. You’ve never lectured there, did you, sir?

Steve Babitsky: It’s a long flight. No, I have not.

Jim Mangraviti: Oregon, never lectured there?

Steve Babitsky: Another long flight, no.

Jim Mangraviti: Arizona, never lectured there?

Steve Babitsky: It’s pretty warm there. No, I have not.

Jim Mangraviti: Wisconsin, never lectured there?

Steve Babitsky: No.

Jim Mangraviti: Illinois, never lectured there?

Steve Babitsky: Not to my recollection.

Jim Mangraviti: Florida, never lectured there?

Steve Babitsky: No.

Jim Mangraviti: Just to speed this up is it fair to say, sir, that the only states that you’ve ever lectured in are the five that are listed here on your CV on page four?

Steve Babitsky: That’s true.

Jim Mangraviti: When you stated in your CV that you have lectured throughout the United States that was an exaggeration, wasn’t it?

Steve Babitsky: Probably.

Jim Mangraviti: As we just established, exaggeration is a form of dishonesty. Isn’t that right sir?

Steve Babitsky: It’s not ideal.

Jim Mangraviti: An exaggeration does not involve telling the whole truth. Isn’t that right, sir?

Steve Babitsky: That’s true.

Jim Mangraviti: By what we’ve established just a few minutes ago, an expert witness who exaggerates shouldn’t be believed. Isn’t that right?

Steve Babitsky: It’s not good.

Jim Mangraviti: Therefore the jury shouldn’t believe you. Isn’t that right, Mr. Babitsky?

Steve Babitsky: It’s not good.

Jim Mangraviti: Thank you very much. Again, it was a very simple example, but this is what you’re going to get. Steve’s playing along well with me. This is the type of thing that you’re going to get if you put something inartful in your CV. You really want to avoid it. You want to check over that CV. You want to make sure you’re putting nothing in there that’s going to give avoidable ammunition to the other side to rip your head off.

Steve Babitsky: Jim, how does SEAK assist expert witnesses?

Jim Mangraviti: SEAK is the expert witness training company, and we’re here to help experts. We have many Free Resources For Experts.  There’s a number of things available for download there. We have a number of books for experts that we’ve published. We put on training seminars for experts three or four times a year in various parts of the country. We have a directory for expert witnesses. We have over 2000 experts listed on the directory, so they can place themselves on the directory and they can get cases. That’s on

Then you, myself, Nadine Donovan, we work one-on-one with expert witnesses to help them grow and expand their practices, be better, be more effective, help them with their expert reports, and assist them with their expert depositions. If you’re an expert witness, and you’re looking to get better, you’re looking to get more business, we’re here to help.