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lawsuit fairytale, then that expert is more likely to collapse under pressure at deposition or talk themselves out of the case even after agreeing to support you.

If the expert

talks about being hesitant to travel during the interview process, they are less likely to show up for trial. If the expert charges a flat fee for their deposition, anticipate a fight with defense counsel and a hostile judge in the event that issue gets litigated. While the interview is extremely important, it can be done in 5-10 minutes as long as you are prepared. If you decide to engage the expert, always offer to

send a retainer and get their tax i.d. number or social security number to show you are serious about engaging them. At the end of the call, always thank the expert for taking your call and for taking the time to speak with you. Te interview is a two-way street and, just as you are evaluating them, they are deciding whether they want to work for you. Let them know how serious you are and make them want to work for you.

2. Many experts are very busy people and they have gatekeepers who can be very difficult to get around. By gatekeeper, I mean a secretary or administrative assistant who manages the expert’s calendar. When you make the initial call, ask who is designated to handle medical- legal matters within the office. When you speak with the gatekeeper, identify who you are and which party you represent. Be prepared to give that person your best 2 or 3 sentence summary of your case. Tose 2 or 3 sentences should be designed to have that person say “Tat

shouldn’t have happened.” If you are able to engender that feeling, you will likely move to the front of the line as that gatekeeper will be in a position to advocate for your case.

If the assistant tells you that the expert you are calling does not testify, ask if anyone in the office does. If so, ask the assistant’s opinion of whether or not that person is a good teacher and whether they come across well. I am able to get this information almost every time I ask. Te assistants likely have strong opinions that they are never asked to express, and many seem to find it liberating to be asked their opinions.

3. Experts are not like life rafts. In other words, don’t cling to one just because they support your case. If it is a good case, you will find others, so if your expert becomes difficult, drop them and move on. You will be glad that you did so.

4. As the plaintiff, you have the advantage of selecting your experts before the defendant. Choose wisely and prepare your experts long before your designation is due. Do not put your expert under short deadlines. Tey may comply, but the product you get may be lacking. Give your experts your deadlines long before they arrive as they will appreciate the courtesy and will be a better advocate for your case. Tere is really no excuse to arrive at the eve of a deadline and put your expert under the gun.

5. Just as Noah did, try to have two experts in most fields. Tere is solace in having two different experts because they will come to the case with a different perspective and background. In addition, at trial you double the chance that the jury will like and understand your case. After you conduct your research on the defendant

and his background, try to get one expert who has a background and practice similar to the defendant’s. I like my second expert to come from a university or large hospital. Tis way, your second expert is likely to be a teacher and should be able to communicate effectively.

6. Choose a good teacher over a more highly qualified expert who only speaks to show how smart he is. Tis may be the most important consideration in selecting an expert. Remember that your audience is the jury and the expert must be able to teach and speak in understandable terms. Look for an expert who can use real life examples that

ordinary people will understand. When you

interview the expert, listen to see if they speak to you in understandable common sense language. If they do, you likely have a good expert who can explain your case to the jury. Remember that the expert is there to communicate your case to the jury in language the jury can understand. If they are unable to do this, look for an expert who can.

7. When you send material to your expert, it should be organized, paginated, and easy to use. Send a copy of your complaint and other pleadings, if appropriate, so they will better understand your case, a well as the defense. Make sure the expert understands the definition of legal terms such as standard of care and knows the standard for competent opinions in the jurisdiction where your case is

24 Trial Reporter / Summer 2009

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