When attorneys seek to engage an expert witness for a legal proceeding, the expert should be prepared to ask their own probative questions to ensure it’s a suitable fit. An expert witness questions the lawyer or firm to gain critical information about the nature of the case, what will be expected of them, and to assess whether their involvement is appropriate and can be reasonably accomplished. By not asking expert witness questions, the expert risks being ill-prepared or mismatched for the role.

Following are expert witness questions that should be posed to attorneys:

Background of the Matter

  • What are the main issues and areas requiring expert analysis?
  • What theories, claims or defenses will the expert be asked to substantiate?
  • At what stage is the litigation or arbitration currently?

Role and Expectations

  • Will the expert’s role be for consulting, testifying, or both?
  • What specific tasks, analysis, reports or other work product is expected?
  • By when must any deliverables be completed?

Terms of Engagement

  • What is the expected time commitment and budget for the expert’s services?
  • How is the expert’s compensation structured (hourly, flat fee, etc.)?
  • Will there be any conflicts of interest that need to be resolved?

Preparation and Discovery

  • What key documents, evidence, and data sets will the expert need to review?
  • Will the expert’s analysis need to address reports from opposing experts?
  • Will time be needed for practice testimony, depositions or other preparations?

By asking these types of expert witness questions, the expert gains clarity into the objectives, timelines, resource requirements, and myriad details that will shape their role and ability to effectively contribute. Experts should not hesitate to ask additional expert witness questions to fully vet the scope and feasibility of the potential engagement.

Conversely, attorneys should be prepared to answer an expert witness’s questions thoroughly and cooperatively. The expert’s input could be critical, so both parties must align on expectations through mutual questioning to set the engagement up for success.