The role of an expert witness at trial is to make difficult subject matter understandable to a layperson. Their testimony must educate the trier of fact in a trial, which could be a judge or a jury. In some instances, they need only to convey one thematic matter of fact which only a qualified expert can speak to. However, in other instances, they need to explain several different complex themes. They may have to define complicated terms, discuss industry standards, or offer analytical opinions.
An expert witness can play an instrumental part in how a trier of fact rules on a case. It is imperative that attorneys select experts who are able to provide highly effective testimony.
Strong Communication Skills
When cases involve subject matter that most people aren’t knowledgeable about, relaying key information about facts in dispute may prove difficult. Expert witnesses will likely need to be comfortable discussing topics with language that is simpler than the language that they use in their professional roles. Good expert testimony is easy to understand, educational, and concise.
A persuasive expert needs to demonstrate authoritative credibility. Credentials should include good educational qualifications and professional experience. A financial expert witness should have practical experience in accounting, banking, or securities. A medical expert witness should have a working understanding of the issues that are central to a claim or defense.
Resilience Under Scrutiny
Experts need to show a high degree of certainty in their assertions. They may have to withstand extensive cross-examination that calls their testimony into question.
Expert witnesses do not provide legal opinions, and they cannot offer speculation about liability. Instead, they may only aid plaintiffs and defendants in proving matters of fact. For this reason, they have to be good educators. Effective testimony is predicated on a witness’ ability to demonstrate authoritative insight and craft a compelling narrative.