This post was written by Patricia Taylor.

Expert witnesses are a necessity in many cases. Often times, the first thought that comes to mind upon deciding whether to hire an expert witness is “What is this going to cost?” While it’s true that many experts have very high fees, employing an expert witness can actually make the litigation process more efficient and cost effective; saving money (for both the client and the firm) in the long run.

First, you have to have a plan. Consider how you will use your expert including what stage you plan on introducing them into litigation and whether or not you will use them in a consulting or testifying capacity. Considering that each case is different and requires different expertise, here are the top five ways an expert witness can help you be more efficient in managing litigation.

Developing the theory. An experienced expert may very well have testified in a case similar to yours before. Talk to the expert about the theories and themes in those previous cases. An expert may even be able to give you information on previous cases, saving you valuable research time.

Discovery and research. Instead of sending broad discovery requests, talk to your expert first to determine what is most important to support your case. Focusing your discovery requests could save you hours of time, allowing you and your support staff to work on other matters.

Visual aids. Experts may be able to assist in developing your visual aids or even create the aids for you. If your expert has prior experience using visual aids, he can share with you which aids were most effective. This saves you time in creating the aid as well as the cost associated with development of an ineffective visual aid.

Information on the opposing expert. In some fields, your expert may know the opposing expert personally or professionally. Your expert is a good source of information regarding the credibility of the opposing expert and can be a valuable source in developing voir dire questions.

Deposition and trial preparation. An expert can help you develop questions for deposition and cross-examination of opposing counsel. It may be helpful to have your expert present at depositions or direct exam (if permissible) to help you prepare and formulate questions.

Of course, keep in mind that discussions with a testifying expert are discoverable by opposing counsel. So, exercise caution before sharing your work product. Instead of discussing a theory you have developed, try asking the expert about other cases he has worked on and his impressions. In the world of litigation, time is money. Time is also scarce. Attorneys and legal staff are stretched thin to handle all of the files on their desks. If you plan ahead, an expert can help you find ways to increase efficiency and positively affect the firm’s bottom line.

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