How to Succeed as an Expert Witness by Looking at Each Case from the Other Expert’s Perspective

If you take cases for both plaintiffs and defense, then you must understand both perspectives so you can undertake your part well for either side. It will help, as well, if you can anticipate what the other side’s expert is likely to do. You know he or she is going to look closely at your report, so you have to be doubly careful about what you write. Think about the basis for each opinion you will express.
Regardless of whether you are acting as an expert witness for the plaintiff or for the defense, your goal is to assess whether each of the steps taken by the other side’s expert made sense. Was it proper, necessary, and complete enough to lead to the stated opinion? Assess whether any portion of the expert’s logic suffered from mistaken assumption or oversight. If so, your attorney can then legitimately use your assessments to undermine the credibility of the expert or the opinion.
More than one possibility often exists. A common error made by people in general is to take the easy way out and say: “that was the only way possible.” Bridge players may say there was no other way to play the cards. Backgammon players may say there was no other way to play the dice. Expert witnesses may say that their opinion is the only sensible one. Don’t assume that the way taken is the only way; look for other possibilities, and explore them.
If you are the plaintiff’s expert, Think About all the possibilities. Prepare to explain why you may have chosen one or only a subset of the possibilities as the basis for your opinion.
If you are the defendant’s expert, list other possibilities that the plaintiff’s expert should have considered, and why.
Pointing out other possibilities may be enough to generate reasonable doubt or to undermine the credibility of the other side’s expert.

Judd Robbins has been an internationally recognized expert witness since 1986 in the US and in the UK. In 2010, his book “Expert Witness Training” was published by Presentation Dynamics. Robbins has advanced degrees from UC Berkeley and the University of Michigan, has been an Information Systems manager and an Education Systems manager, and consults in both computer and legal issues. Learn more about Mr. Robbins and his Expert Witness Training materials at www.juddrobbins.com

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