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10 Commandments of Experts

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Reprinted with permission.

Posted by IMS ExpertServices on November 3, 2011

Ten Commandments of Experts

…in reverse order. In true Old Testament style, we bring you a (hopefully humorous) list of the top ten expert dos and don’ts.

10. Thou Shalt Not Covet Your Opponents’ Experts

Instead, locate a better expert. In the battle of the experts, it’s about who can retain the strongest expert earliest in the game. This means using all the resources at your disposal to find the right expert to get you the best settlement or judgment.

9. Thou Shalt Not Withhold Information from Your Experts

In recent years, there have been several examples of experts who have walked out of deposition or changed sides when additional facts forced them to reevaluate their opinions. The attorneys in these situations failed to follow this commandment and limited the amount of information to which their experts had access.

No matter the subject area, an expert is attempting to evaluate numerous data sources to determine a complex solution. Being deprived of any element in this calculation is bound to result in erroneous answers that the expert later feels honor-bound to recant. In his post about how to best utilize damages experts, Clifford Fry lists document access as the first way an attorney can help his experts.

8. Thou Shalt Not Fail to Pay an Expert

Like attorneys, experts like being paid for their time. However, failing to pay an expert is far more common than it should be. It happens when the invoice sits neglected on an attorney’s desk, or when he waits too long to object to the expert’s charges, or when a client is slow to pay.

Although this is a frequently broken commandment, several attorneys have learned that refusing to pay an expert can result in sanctions. Therefore, it is best to simply pay an expert’s bills in a timely manner. Submit their invoices to your client as soon as you receive them. If your client’s payment is late, look into it. If you foresee payment problems in advance, let the expert know about them before you retain him.

7. Thou Shalt Not Swap Sides

Trying to tell attorneys not to commit adultery is a little pointless. Attorneys frequently hire experts who previously worked for their opponents and even more frequently jump from one law firm to another. Therefore, this commandment applies more directly to experts, who should not approach an attorney after being retained by opposing counsel.

6. Thou Shalt Not Kill Your Expert’s Reputation

When an expert begins his career as a litigation consultant, he enters a world of Daubert trials, e-discovery and intense scrutiny. For your own benefit, and for his, you do not want to leave your expert to navigate this labyrinth on his own. Detailing expectations, prepping an expert for testimony and explaining what communications are acceptable all help keep experts out of hot water.

5. Honor Your Experts and Your Clients

Honoring your experts is fairly straight forward. Provide all the required documentation, give the expert plenty of time to perform his work and then pay him for his time. Honoring your clients, however, has become an evolving area lately.

As John Reed wrote in his blog post about the business of law, law firms are becoming more and more accountable to their clients for the time they spend and the hours they bill. This results in business-oriented law firms, alternative fee arrangements and a number of other efficiency-boosting efforts. To fit in this environment, attorneys can best work with their clients by coordinating with them throughout the litigation process.

4. Remember the Date of Disclosure

The closer you get to the expert disclosure date, the more frantic your expert search becomes. In order to avoid the panicked, last-minute search for an expert, initiate your search far enough ahead of your expert disclosure date to allow you time to review resumes, conduct interviews and assess preliminary opinions.

3. Thou Shalt Not Hold the Court in Contempt

This should be self-explanatory. If it isn’t obvious, it is not a good idea to have your expert testify on topics the judge has told him to refrain from discussing, pointlessly cross-examine an expert for hours, or tweet about your case in the courtroom. In fact, it is usually not a good idea to have what happens in the courtroom end up online.

2. Thou Shalt Not Hire Imitation Experts

Experts without the right experience, experts without the ability to present well and experts who don’t have the credentials will not help your case. To present the strongest case, you need the best experts, and the best experts combine technical knowledge with an ability to convey that knowledge. Hiring better experts with a larger fee structure may actually save money in the long run and allow a litigation team to stay within budget. The best experts construct a stronger case in less time, often resulting in an earlier settlement or quicker resolution.

1. Thou Shalt Not Have Any Other Expert Providers before IMS ExpertServices

IMS ExpertServices is the premier expert provider for complex civil litigation. We conduct a custom search to locate the expert that matches your case needs and, best of all, we perform the search risk free.

Let us know if you are in need of experts or you think we missed a commandment.

This article was originally published in BullsEye, a newsletter distributed by IMS ExpertServices™. IMS Expert Services is the premier expert witness search firm in the legal industry, focused exclusively on providing custom expert witness searches to attorneys. To read this and other legal industry BullsEye publications, please visit IMS Expert Services' recent articles. For your next expert witness search, call us at 877-838-8464 or visit our website.

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