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What's Happening With Expert Witnesses?

Being an expert witness is good work if you can get it.

According to a new survey, however, more than 90 percent of the time lawyers want experts who already have litigation experience. It makes sense, and also shows that the road to getting expert work is narrow.

That's why The Expert Institute put together responses from 1,000 attorneys. The survey says it's not only hard to be an expert; it's a challenge to find the right one.

Experts Rising, Falling

One-third of the respondents said they had "an increased need" for expert witnesses in the past five years. More than half said their use has remained about the same.

They overwhelmingly preferred experts with litigation experience -- but not too much. About 43 percent of the respondents said they chose experts with 11-20 cases, but only 18 percent of the lawyers wanted experts with 21-50 cases.

Medical experts are the highest in demand, according to the survey. Reporting on the survey, Victoria Negron said that was no surprise.

"Not surprisingly, medical expert witnesses rank the highest in-demand, with 60% of attorneys surveyed reporting that they most frequently hire medical experts," she wrote.

Finding Experts

Most of the time, lawyers find experts by referral from other attorneys. More than half of the respondents said they retained an expert within 48 hours.

Negron said it is tempting to retain an expert quickly, but it is important to do some homework first. She said lawyers should "always" check the expert's CV, references, and associations.

"This can help avoid an embarrassing or potentially case-damaging situation if the expert's stated credentials do not match reality." she said.

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