Expert witness retention can be a significant litigation cost.
Consideration of these seven steps will allow the attorney to
extract the greatest value from any expert on any case.
MICHAEL HAUGEN, CPA/CFF, CFE
EPPS FORENSIC CONSULTING PLLC
Please call or email me directly with your questions regarding this
article or to discuss your financial expert witness needs.
7 Steps to Get the Most Out of
Your Expert Witness
1Assess Expertise, Skills and Cre- dentials: The most critical step in retaining an expert witness is
to select one with the proper expertise and qualifications. The task is often made easier through word of
mouth referrals, but that should not
prohibit critical evaluation of a potential expert’s credentials and capabilities. Moreover, the selection process
should not lose sight of the ‘soft skills’
(e.g., communication style) that can
make or break the effectiveness of the
expert opinion presentation.
2Involve Early in the Discovery Process: The next step an attor- ney can take to get the most
out of their expert is to retain him/her
early in the discovery process. This is
a key point. If experts are not brought
on early in the discovery process,it
may limit the value an expert can
bring to a case by forfeiting their ability to assist in obtaining all relevant
documentation and information, which
serve to form the foundation for the
When an expert is involved early in
the discovery process, the expert is
able to assist counsel in obtaining
the maximum benefit from discovery
in four key areas: drafting a request
for production; outlining interrogatory
questions; providing deposition questions; and assisting in research.
3Assist in Document Production Request: With an understanding of the complaint and response/
counter complaint, an expert can provide an initial list of potential parties
from which to request documentation,
and the specific documents to request
from each. Subsequent requests may
be made, but due to inherent delays
in the process, the earlier the documents are requested the more opportunity there is to make sure the scope
of requests is complete.
4Identify Key Questions for In- terrogatories: In many cases, the number of interrogatories
permitted is limited, so it can be critical to ensure the most pertinent are
presented. Early retention of the expert facilitates the expert’s advising
attorneys of key questions.
5Recommend Deposition Ques- tions: If the expert is retained early and has the opportunity
to review records before depositions,
he/she can draft suggested questions.
This provides the opportunity to verify and clarify information included in
prior discovery responses, including
opposing expert opinions. Such deposition testimony adds to the foundation the expert will use to form his/
6Allow Ample Time for Required Research: Experts will perform research on key issues in their
area of expertise; however, research
data is not always readily available.
Retaining an expert too late in the discovery process may limit the research
7Communicate Early and Often: Lastly, and separate from the value experts can bring to the
discovery process, attorneys and experts alike should focus on constant
communication. Experts don’t work in
isolation. Their opinions must fit within the legal framework of the case.
Having time to communicate during
the discovery process can be integral
to the overall strength of a case.
Note on the author: As a Manager of Financial Forensics & Litigation Support
at Epps Forensic Consulting, Mr. Michael
Haugen has experience assisting legal
counsel resolve hundreds of millions of
dollars in financial damages claims. He
is a Certified Public Accountant, Certified in Financial Forensics, and Certified
Fraud Examiner. He and his colleagues at
Epps Forensic Consulting PLLC specialize
in litigation support involving matters of
economic damages, financial investigations, fraud examinations, and forensic