Great Expectations: What Makes a Great Expert Witness?

In 2018, federal criminal cases had about 80,000 defendants. The increasing numbers of cases raise the demand for attorneys and expert witnesses. While settling for one attorney over the other isn’t hard, choosing an expert witness can be daunting. 

Yet, expert witnesses are indispensable in a courtroom. Some complex issues require clear explanations, which is plausible through relevant expertise. However, there’s no concise answer on what makes a commendable witness. 

Some attorneys agree on some features and attributes that make a great expert witness. Keep reading to know the qualities to look out for when looking for an expert witness. 

What Is an Expert Witness? 

Before delving into the attributes of an expert witness, it is vital to establish an expert witness definition. An expert witness is a person with considerable experience and knowledge in a particular discipline. The expert expresses an independent expert opinion based on the case at hand. 

The expert witness provides a view in the form of evidence or a report before the court. The report has to be per the court’s rules. The information provided by the expert witness ought to be impartial, independent, and truth, whether or not they are in favor of your case.

Therefore, an expert witness cannot, at any one point, argue your case or be your advocate. Through your legal representatives, you’re expected to work with your expert witness on a contractual basis. Given the complexity of the role played by expert witnesses, you need to be keen when choosing one.  

Here are some of the attributes to consider when looking for an expert witness. 

Relevant Credentials

Academic credentials are a must-have for expert witnesses. Besides a terminal degree, actual academic achievements can prove one is adequately knowledgeable in a specific field. These credentials can include publishing content in reputable journals and being in renowned leadership positions.

An expert witness should have skills and specialized training in a specific area. The scope of knowledge of the witness ought to be beyond what is common to an average juror. The testimony given by the expert shouldn’t be a restatement of arguments made by the attorney. 

If you need medical experts, you can consider an expert witness referral service. You will get professionals who have the right set of skills, knowledge, and experience. Working with highly qualified experts gives you an advantage in Court.  


Confidence is a valuable attribute for expert witnesses. The opposing counsel tends to cross-examine the witnesses to know how they reached an opinion. Experts who aren’t confident enough might feel intimidated. 

The experts further need to testify in front of a jury. People attending the court cases need to believe the opinions despite their unfamiliarity with the specialty. A confident expert witness airs views convincingly. 

It is easy for a judge to believe the information. On the contrary, lack of confidence makes an expert appear clueless on the issue in court. You need to work with expert witnesses who are sure about their professional findings to deter any form of doubt.

Effective Communication Skills

An expert witness has to use persuasive communication with the jury and the judge. It’s one thing to have in-depth knowledge of the subject matter; transferring it is another concern altogether. An expert should have concise and clear communication.  

Proper relaying of technical specialties is essential. An expert witness should be eloquent enough despite the technicality of the subject. Most parties in the Court hardly have a knowledge basis of the issue, and the information they get from the experts can be enough to form their judgment. 


Typically, expert opinions occur in three stages. The first stage involves the preparation of an expert report. At this point, an expert documents the methodology used and the findings.

In the second phase, expert witnesses testify about their opinion as the opposing counsel cross-examines the information. The expert then testifies in front of a jury or a judge. Most expert witnesses testify in different cases. 

If an expert witness is inconsistent, the opposing party can point it out. Consequently, the opinions of such a witness might be inadmissible in Court. Your expert needs to be consistent from the point of report preparation to the final stage of testifying.  


Lawyers bill up to 70 hours a week. While expert witnesses don’t need to put up such hours, they have to show significant dedication. An expert witness has to prepare a detailed written report about their opinion on a subject. 

Compiling the records and outlining a summary of the results and findings is engaging. Reputable experts will further review the record you send. The final report ought to have the appropriate chronology of events besides being error-free. 

Expert witnesses need to have a high level of dedication to achieve such efficiency. The commitment of time, resources, and energy is a mark of an excellent expert witness.

Attention to Detail

Details are central in litigation. Experts need a high degree of attention to detail regardless of the records at hand. Failure to which, the opposing party might corner the expert of an issue.

Your expert witness will need to study and be familiar with the records days before the trial. The familiarization prepares the expert for any questions that may arise. An expert witness shouldn’t overlook any information on the files. 

Having an expert with vast experience plays a role in the level of preparedness. The experienced expert is familiar with the jargon and can break them down in simple terms. Consequently, such a person can engage the jury without fear. 

The Right Expert Witness Can Help You Win a Case

Choosing an expert witness is overwhelming. With the different nature of clients and cases, you can’t determine the effectiveness of an expert witness based on past success. You should have a checklist of attributes to help you when shopping for an expert. 

A referral service assists in getting the best professional. The expert witness fees are a small price to pay for the impact the expert makes in a case. If you get the best, chances of winning a court case are high. 

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