For all of you Star Wars fans out there, let’s start out with this question: who does not like Han Solo? For a generation of movie fans, he was the epitome of cool. He was a swash-buckling, princess-wooing, galaxy-saving kind of guy. There was just something about him that we (and Princess Leia) could not help but be drawn to.
Unfortunately, procuring Han Solo as an expert witness for your case is nearly impossible. Given his smuggling responsibilities, his association with the Rebel Alliance (not to mention the fact that he is a fictional character), he is quite difficult to get ahold of. Still, there are lessons to be learned, especially when trying to find an expert witness. In some ways, attorneys are all trying to find their own ‘Han Solo,’ someone with whom they can work with in order to achieve their client’s goals. As such, we’ve assembled the six ways you can find your own Han Solo, with tips directly from everyone’s favorite nerf-herder…
1.) “Good against remotes is one thing. Good against the living, that’s something else.”
When working with an expert, they are specifically that, a specialist in their field. Still, this expertise should extend beyond a published paper or educational background. While both are critical parts of an expert’s credentials, a great expert will have relevant, real world experience for the case. For example, in a medical malpractice case, even if the expert is certified in the same field as the defendant-physician, the expert brought in should perform the same procedure as the one in question, and, at the very least, on a semi-regular basis.
2.) “Hokey religions and ancient weapons are no match for a good blaster at your side, kid.”
Experts are brought in to help examine and analyze the specifics of your case. Ultimately, though, an expert has a very specialized skill-set, as it pertains to the case. In some ways, they may offer different views, or items that you may not have considered. Do not resist these opinions, and consider them fully. Obviously, there is a limit, as an expert who completely disagrees with your assessments is probably not the ideal expert for your case. Still, slight differences and different perspectives are healthy and they are important to help flesh out all of the details of a case. At the end of the day, an expert’s knowledge of the subject matter should complement your own.
3.) “Who’s scruffy-looking?”
Experts must always be prepared to provide testimony and depositions. In these cases, while superficial, it is important that the expert be presentable to the jury. It may seem silly, but it is understandable given the position of the jury. In highly technical cases (securities fraud or medical fields, for example), the jury has to sit through hours of conflicting testimonies. Their first impression of the expert witness is their appearance, and while the content of the testimony is definitely more important, there is some weight given to how the expert looks and carries himself/herself. If they appear disheveled, frantic, or disorganized, the jury may be less likely to accept their testimony.
4.) “This may smell bad, kid, but it’ll keep you warm until I get the shelter up… Ugh.”
In some of the more difficult cases, when discovery, depositions, and pre-trial hearings can take months, and sometimes years, at a time, there are going to be speed bumps and slight issues in the way that the case moves along. It is important to find an expert who will be realistic with you. If three thousand pages of financial records are uncovered during discovery, an expert should be realistic in the challenges in going through the new documentation. In this way, communication and honest dialogue are critical to a successful working relationship.
5.) “They’d be crazy to follow us, wouldn’t they?”
If you are hiring an expert (or multiple experts) for your case, the opposing side is likely hiring just as many experts to litigate on the same issues. Your expert needs to understand his or her own viewpoint, and they need to be familiar with the probable viewpoints that the opposing experts will present. While, in theory, experts presented with information will reach the same conclusions, this rarely, if ever, happens. Experts, like the rest of us, have their views shaped by different educational institutions, jobs, personal beliefs, and experiences. Because of this, an opposing expert may be presented with similar facts, but have a completely different interpretation. It is important to be aware of this, and to discuss these differences in preparation of trial proceedings.
6.) “It’s your imagination, kid. Come on. Let’s keep a little optimism here.”
This is the simplest of the bunch, and after the long hours of poring over legal documents, analyzing relevant data, and discussing the case with different parties, an optimistic expert can go a long way…