For the Paralegal: Civil Litigation and Working With Expert Witnesses

With the current discovery mechanisms, the strengths and weaknesses of a case can be determined much earlier in the litigation
Early Expert Determination is Critical:
Prior to initial contact with the expert witness, it is vital that the attorney and paralegal meet to discuss the issues and determine what areas of professional expertise are most valuable to a particular type of case. It is important that this meeting take place early in the litigation. It allows the legal team to evaluate the case so that a discovery plan can be formulated. The legal team needs to decide if the materials currently on hand provide enough information to develop an opinion. If not, what additional information is needed?
The Initial Contact/Conflict Check:
The initial contact sets the tone for the professional relationship with the expert. The paralegal should immediately identify her/himself as a The expert will need to make a point of contact with the paralegal in order to establish a professional relationship. The paralegal should advise the expert of her/his role in the case, and whether other experts will also be retained.
The paralegal will want to obtain the following information prior to discussing the case with the expert: A copy of the expert's curriculum vitae, fee schedule, and retainer agreement.
Have the expert run a conflict check to confirm whether the expert has been consulted by your opponent prior to divulging case facts to the expert. This will eliminate the possibility of a disqualification motion later. Determine if the expert is available to testify at deposition and trial. Be sure to give the expert the venue, trial date, and any other deadlines.
Once approval is given by the attorney to retain the expert, the paralegal