How To Communicate With Your Expert


How To Communicate With Your Expert

Finding and choosing an expert can be daunting, but communicating clearly with the expert your engage can be even more of a challenge - one that can affect the outcome of your case.

It is up to you to be explicit about your goals and expectations, and to ask the important questions. Assume nothing.  Don't count on an expert to volunteer information that you never requested.

It is far better to know the answers to the following questions at the start of your relationship than to discover problems during cross-examination:

  • Have you verified the expert's credentials, licenses, and certifications? Are theyvalid andappropriate for your unique situation?
  • Is the expert experienced? Has he or she testified before? Where? When? What were the results?
  • Are there any skeletons in the expert's closet, such as an unfavorable Daubert decision or a published article or prior testimonywhich might prove embarrassing to your case?
  • Can the expert supply names of previous clients and written reports?


You should have a clear understanding about the cost of the expert's services.  In our experience, experts' rates can vary widely, depending on their expertise and location.  Here are some things you may want tod inquire about:

  • When does the meter start running? Is there a charge for your initial telephone discussion to consider if the expert can help or not? At what point have you formally hired the expert and made a commitment?
  • A meetingcan reveal whether the "chemistry" is good between you, how articulate the expert is, and what impression he or she might make on a judge or jury. Will there be a charge for a face-to-face interview?
  • Does the expert charge the same hourly rate for all services, or are there different rates for research, report writing, travel, lab work, deposition, or trial?
  • Are any fees required in advance? At what stage willbills be submitted?
  • Will the expert do all of the work, or might there be a need for an assistant or laboratory services? How will out-of-pocket expenses be billed?
  • If you have budget concerns, have you been clear about limitations on costs? Have you set benchmarks and time parameters that you don't want the expert to exceed?
  • How much time does the expert estimate for each phase of service? What is the total project likely to cost? Are the fees commensurate with the value of the case? (A client might be justifiably upset that her drapes were ruined by the dry cleaner. But she may be more upset if you don't find out what it will cost to analyze the fiber, do the research, and prepare a report.)
  • Do you anticipate any delay in paying the expert? If so, in all fairness, tell the expert up front. Most will be patient for a reasonable amount of time if they know what to expect.

While no one can guarantee success, a positive outcome is much more likely when you take the time to communicate clearly with your expert from the start..

© 2005, the TASA Group, Inc.   This article may not be reproduced without permission.

Previous Article Tips On How To Keep Costs Down When Working With Experts
Next Article Avoiding Costly Errors When Hiring an Expert: An Expert's Perspective

Theme picker


  • Let Us Find Your Expert

  • Note: This form is to be completed by legal and insurance professionals ONLY. If you are a party in a case that requires an expert witness, please have your attorney contact TASA at 800-523-2319.

Search Experts

TASA provides a variety of quality, independent experts who meet your case criteria. Search our extensive list of experts now.

Search Experts