How to Make Real Money as An Expert Witness

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Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Are you interested in pursuing work as an expert witness? I recommend you consider it if you’re seeking mind-expanding and wallet-expanding work.

Let me start with my own experience because it’s the bulk of what I have to go on! Here are the three types of cases to which I offer my expertise: customer service expert witness, hospitality expert witness, and customer experience expert witness.

I only take cases I believe in, and I enjoy applying my own experience as a customer service consultant and customer experience consultant in a venue that’s so different from where I usually spend my day and my brain cells.

Whether expert witness work replaces your main gig or doesn’t (and I think generally it won’t because continuing as a practitioner in your field is actually an attraction in getting this kind of work), it’s a fabulous source of potential income. Money aside, I predict that you, like me, will find it fascinating to be participating in our country’s system of justice.

Related: New York Lawyer Uses ChatGPT to Create Legal Brief, Cites 6 ‘Bogus’ Cases: ‘The Court Is Presented With an Unprecedented Circumstance’

Do you have what it takes? Do you even want to have what it takes?

There are not all that many legal barriers to you entering this field. But do you have the mindset, even the interest, for what this takes? Here are my opinions on this, based on my work and qualifications as a customer service expert witness and customer experience expert witness:

• You are up for learning new things. The court system is its own beast, and I find it fascinating, at least in small doses. You may not.

• You have good reading comprehension. This might sound very schoolteacher of me, but you’re going to need to read the relevant documents provided to you by the firm that retains you, as well as potentially doing a roundup of everything else relevant that is out there.

• You are a good and clear writer. Not always, but often, you’ll be called upon to create a written opinion. And this needs to be clear and well-reasoned.

• You’re reasonably steady under fire. Okay, a courtroom is rarely the scene for dramatic fireworks as you’ve seen on Better Call Saul or Suits. But you should expect to be badgered by opposing counsel (okay, not badgered, as that’s not permitted, but behavior that comes very close to the badgering line) and even the judge.

• You’re willing to limit the words that come from your mouth. What I mean here is that when you get a question, you only answer within the scope of the question. Sometimes, this is as little as answering “yes” or “no.” It’s hard to learn for the more gregarious and passionate among us.

• You truly are an expert in your field. Are you, truly? Any law firm that contacts you for this work must be convinced that you are. And then, you need to survive the likely challenges from opposing counsel to both your qualifications and the relevance of all aspects of your testimony.

Let’s dig into that last bullet point now.

Related: Use This Secret Customer Service Technique to Boost Your Customer Retention and Loyalty

Who can be an expert witness?

At this point, it’s important that I caveat what I’m about to write: I am not a lawyer or legally trained. So do not use the following by itself; augment it (or entirely replace it) with information from actual legal sources, as well as, perhaps, your own reading of the laws and regulations that are relevant.

As far as who can be an expert witness, there’s good news: the law governing this in federal court — Federal Rule of Evidence (FRE) 702 — is quite broad and accommodating; it does not restrict the areas of knowledge to just scientific and technical fields but includes all forms of specialized” knowledge. Furthermore, there are no specific education or background requirements; an expert can, in theory, be anyone who has expertise derived from their “knowledge, skill, experience, training or education.”

And in reality, many types of expert witnesses are needed by the courts. Here are a few of them that may be of interest to you:

• Business Expert Witness • Economic Expert Witness • Financial Expert Witness • HR Expert Witness • Engineering Expert Witness • Construction Expert Witness • Medical Expert Witness • Customer Service Expert Witness • Hospitality Expert Witness • Customer Experience Expert Witness (These last three are the disciplines within I share my own expertise.)

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What qualifies as expert testimony?

“A witness who is qualified as an expert by knowledge, skill, experience, training, or education may testify in the form of an opinion or otherwise if the proponent demonstrates to the court that it is more likely than not that:

(a) the expert’s scientific, technical, or other specialized knowledge will help the trier of fact to understand the evidence or to determine a fact in issue;

(b) the testimony is based on sufficient facts or data;

(c) the testimony is the product of reliable principles and methods and

(d) the expert’s opinion reflects a reliable application of

the principles and methods to the facts of the case.”

NOTE: the above includes proposed changes to FRE 702 that may not yet be in effect when you read this.

After reading this, are you intrigued? If you decide to pursue work as an expert witness, I offer you my best wishes. Please be honest and give your best effort. If you do, the rest should fall into place. And remember again: none of this is legal advice, just some insight offered by a layperson.

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