How to… Become an Expert Witness
4 April 2022
Leading professional training provider for expert witnesses, Bond Solon explores the reasons why experienced professionals might want to consider carving out a side career as an expert witness.
Many people see the term ‘expert witness’ and run a mile, thinking of hard-hitting barristers on televised crime dramas giving experienced medical professionals a real grilling. But don’t be deterred, because the reality could not be more different and in fact, a side career as an expert witness could be an extremely stimulating and rewarding addition to your existing practice.
What is an expert witness?
An expert witness is anyone with knowledge or experience in a particular field or discipline that is beyond that of a layman. Expert witnesses will be instructed by a party (usually a law firm) to provide their specialist knowledge by way of an opinion on a particular issue/set of issues or facts in a case to help resolve a dispute.
While their opinion is sought by one party (or sometimes both parties in a dispute – otherwise known as a single joint expert), an expert’s overriding duty is to assist the court with the ultimate outcome of a dispute by providing a report that is independent, objective and unbiased.
Why choose this career path?
Admittedly, becoming an expert witness isn’t for everyone. But if you are keen to diversify your skillset with a new challenge and use your knowledge and experience for an entirely different but worthwhile purpose, whilst also supplementing your existing income, then becoming an expert witness might just be for you.
What do I need to become one?
There are no legal requirements to becoming an expert witness. The level and type of professional experience required will differ from case to case, but generally speaking, instructing parties are increasingly likely to choose an expert witness based on two factors: their specialist knowledge on a particular subject area; and the number and type of cases they have worked on or any formal training they have undergone.
If you are thinking of starting out as an expert witness or are new to the role, here are three key steps that you can take to stand you out from the pack:
- Keep your expert witness profile separate from your medical practice. Think about investing in a website to advertise your services, registering with directories and creating a standalone expert witness CV.
- Instructing parties are increasing requiring experts to obtain adequate professional indemnity insurance. Experts should carefully check whether their existing professional insurance policy is wide enough to cover them acting in an expert witness capacity and, if not, obtain additional cover before commencing expert work. In addition, many insurance companies offer more competitive premiums to experts who have undertaken training with a recognised training provider.
- Whilst there is no mandatory training requirement for expert witnesses, regular expert witness training will prove advantageous when speaking with both instructing parties and insurance companies. In addition, the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges published guidance in May 2019 recommending healthcare professionals who act as experts witnesses to undertake specific training and CPD. This guidance has since been endorsed by nine healthcare professional bodies on behalf of over 70 healthcare professional organisations.
If you are interested in becoming an expert witness or are considering enrolling in professional training, Bond Solon’s Excellence in Report Writing course provides expert witnesses with the key skills to expeditiously and consistently produce reports that are court compliant and that will withstand cross-examination.
We sat down with some of the previous delegates on this course to hear about the benefits of seeking professional training.
The main benefit for me has been in ‘seeing the medico-legal process from the other side’ and in understanding more completely what instructing solicitors want and the language they use.
- Andrew Quaile, Spinal Orthopaedic Surgeon
I was relatively new to expert witness work before embarking on the…programme. The training content was excellent, and the tutors were very supportive. I enjoyed every single part of the programme, and it has been invaluable in my practice as an expert. It gave me confidence to act as an expert and the skills to cope in lots of situations. I would recommend this training to all experts, whether they are experienced or a novice
- Amanda Hunter, Occupational Therapist
As an independent psychiatrist looking to become an expert witness it was recommended by a colleague that I attend Bond Solon expert witness training. After enrolling…I now fully understand the importance and implications of being an expert witness and am now confident in my ability to write a court compliant report and to stand up against cross examination.
- Una McDermott, Independent Psychiatrist
Bond Solon is the leading professional training provider for expert witnesses.
To register for the next Excellence in Report Writing available course on 13th June 2022 or to find out more, please click here.
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