Litigation expert witnesses provide testimony during trials and lawsuits. They are paid for their testimony by the side that hires them. If the court deems the witness an expert in the field being testified about, the opinion of the witness is more likely to be viewed as credible. To become a litigation expert witness, you must have extensive experience in the field in question. Most litigation expert witnesses also have an advanced degree.
Choosing a specific field in which to become a litigation expert witness is necessary for success. Litigants, whether plaintiffs or defendants, hire experts based on their deep understanding of the area in question. If you already have experience or a degree in a field commonly used in court settings, such as forensics, psychology, or sociology, your path to becoming a professional expert witness will be shorter. Once the field is chosen, you will design a plan of action.
Get the necessary education. Most litigation expert witnesses have a minimum of a master's degree in the field they get paid to testify about. Check with the university of your choice to determine whether your current degree will translate well into a master's program in your chosen field. If you do not have an undergraduate degree, major in the field you want to become a litigation expert witness in and complete your education.
Obtain a job in the field. Education is rarely enough when it comes to testifying in court as an expert. You must also have several years' experience working in the field. Once you secure a position in your chosen field of expertise, maintain a journal or other record of important developments, ideas, or accomplishments that you contribute. This information will be added to your litigation witness resume once you begin to market your services to court officers, attorneys, and judges.
Become certified if there are certifications applicable in your chosen field of expertise. The more education, experience, and certifications you have, the more marketable you will be. Maintain current certifications and continuing education opportunities to keep up your expert knowledge.
Develop relationships with attorneys in all areas of the court system. Your efforts to become a litigation expert witness should encompass relationships with attorneys in criminal court, civil court, and juvenile court. The more attorneys you have relationships with, the better your chances of being hired to testify. Update your resume regularly and send it around to your attorney contacts. Set an hourly rate for your testimony and include it in mailings.
Always testify truthfully, regardless of the outcome. Your reputation as an expert and your credibility on the witness stand are what will build your business. Listen carefully to each question. Answer it honestly and fully and then wait for the next question.