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What Makes a Great Expert Witness?

March 1, 2011

It takes more than just impressive credentials to be a successful expert witness.  According to numerous discussions with counsel, the most important attributes for experts to possess include solid analytical skills and strong communication skills.  Attorneys obviously want the expert’s analysis to be performed correctly and in accordance with standard industry methodologies.  Attorneys also expect expert analysis to be efficient.  That means experts should hone in on the important issues quickly and not allow themselves or their staff to burn hours performing non-critical analyses that do not directly impact the expert’s opinions.


But what truly sets top experts apart from their peers is the ability to translate complex ideas into simple, persuasive language that is easily understood by the judge and/or jury.  Debra Bogaards, Managing Partner of San Francisco based Bogaards Davis LLP, explains:


An effective and persuasive expert is a person who is a good communicator, personable and firm in their opinion.  Cross-examination weeds out otherwise seemingly good experts.


Some people are naturally gifted storytellers while others require a great deal of practice.  Either way, the ability to teach others in a respectful, non-condescending manner is critical to becoming a great expert witness.

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