The best way to become a forensic expert witness is to work within a chosen profession to increase knowledge, experience, and credibility. Professional articles and books, especially if peer-reviewed prior to publishing, act as endorsements of a person’s expertise. Speaking engagements where a professional shares his or her knowledge also help someone become a forensic expert witness. Another avenue involves enrolling in courses at universities that prepare a student to become a forensic expert witness, especially in the areas of engineering, accounting, and technology.
Some law firms routinely use expert witnesses in cases they defend. A person who hopes to become a forensic expert witness might contact a law office for advice. An apprenticeship with a legal firm might also help pave the way for part-time work as an expert witness or consultant. Basically, every activity that adds to a stronger curriculum vitae increases credibility.
Judges routinely determine if a person qualifies as an expert witness by examining the curriculum vitae, a synopsis of a person’s education, skill, knowledge, and experience in a particular field. Once the judge deems the qualifications appropriate, the professional is permitted to give opinions from the witness stand. The expert aids the judge or jury in deciding a disputed fact.
A person who wants to become a forensic expert witness might benefit from studying the curriculum vitae of a recognized expert. He or she might discover what sets the expert apart from others in the same profession. This document typically lists degrees earned, memberships in professional organizations, and speaking engagements.
Some experts who testify in court are retirees who use special knowledge gained during their careers. This provides part-time employment because expert witnesses typically set their own hourly fees for services. Retirees typically decide the type of cases they prefer, choosing some and rejecting others.
Joining as many professional associations as possible might help someone become a forensic expert witness. These organizations often set customary standards within the profession, or norms that are accepted within the field. For example, a medical organization might set standards for treatment of a specific illness. A person who sits on a board or committee for one of these groups might gain additional credibility and prestige.
Forensic experts are typically needed in all fields, from handwriting experts to digital expertise. Handwriting experts usually work on cases with questionable documents, such as wills and suicide notes. An electronic equipment pro might testify about child pornography found on a suspect’s computer or deleted electronic documents that were retrieved. Fraud examiners commonly testify about financial discrepancies.