The role of an expert advisor or expert witness is an unusual one. Unlike a typical consultant, whose job is solely to assist their client, the expert also has a legal duty to the court to provide independent, objective opinions. As a result, experts need to have good knowledge of the relevant technical areas, but they also need a good understanding of the legal process and how to operate within it.
Choosing an expert should be a joint decision between client and lawyer. Typically lawyers will have a list of experts that they’ve worked with and who they are confident understand the legal issues. However, lawyers who also understand IT issues in depth are still fairly rare so it’s important that you as a client take the time to check that the expert understands your IT issues and business area sufficiently well to help you.
If you’re an IT professional yourself this shouldn’t be too difficult, and a CV and short phone conversation should be enough for you to establish the expert’s technical credentials. Simply put, the 3 key qualities that any expert must demonstrate, are;
- Relevant practical technical and/or managerial experience.
- Ability to communicate clearly and confidently, verbally and in writing.
- Clear understanding of the expert’s duty to the court and the value to the client of the expert’s independence and objectivity.
Above all, remember that it’s in your interests to select an expert who will tell you if you have a poor technical case, otherwise you risk spending a great deal of time and money on a case that won’t stand up in court!
Click here for more information on where to find experts.