Ten questions to ask your financial expert

Financial experts are used in civil and criminal cases by both the plaintiff and defendant in litigation relating to personal injury, divorce, lost profits, breach of contract, shareholder disputes, theft arson, murder and many other areas.

A financial expert’s testimony can have a critical impact on a case, particularly one in which the amount of monetary damages are not readily determined from the facts.

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As a result, great care must be taken in the selection process. The following are some key questions you should ask to evaluate a potential financial expert:

1. Are there any conflicts involving the litigants, attorneys or other experts on the case?

Before your initial discussion of the facts, all potential conflicts need to be addressed, since this may disqualify an expert from the onset.

2. What are the expert’s credentials?

Obtain a detailed curriculum vitae. Look for educational achievements, certifications, scope of experience, articles published, presentations made, and professional affiliations. The curriculum vitae should read well and contain proven credentials.

3. In what previous cases has the expert testified?

Request a list of cases organized by the following characteristics: case style, type of litigation, whether engaged by the plaintiff or defendant, court of jurisdiction and expert testimony given. This is a good indicator of the expert’s trial experience.

4. How credible has past testimony been for other attorneys?

Ask for a list of law firms and specific attorneys for whom the expert has worked. When checking references, be sure to pose specific questions. Inquire about the credibility of testimony, clarity and thoroughness of work, demeanor under cross-examination, responsiveness, and ability to meet deadlines. Always ask the attorneys if they would engage the expert again.

5. What are the expert’s strengths?

Gain an insight into whether the expert is creative, objective and logical. Is the expert capable of maintaining a calm demeanor while communicating complex ideas in a clear and precise manner?

6. What will the expert’s involvement be?

Discuss the expert’s planned involvement in the case. How much will the expert be responsible for? What work will be delegated to others? Review the expected time frame of the case to ensure that the expert can meet any deadlines and be available for questions and/or testimony.

7. How does the expert intent to approach the case?

After the case is summarized and the expert’s proposed participation is outlined, ask how the expert intends to approach the case. Request a preliminary appraisal of the case and potential conclusions based on the facts presented. You want to make sure the expert will not hurt your position.

8. Does the expert grasp the concepts of the case?

Evaluate whether the expert has expertise in the area in question and has grasped the case concepts.

9. What are the technological capabilities of the expert?

Determine the technological capabilities of the expert. For example: Does the expert use the latest technology to provide color graphic presentations?

10. What is the expert’s fee?

Ask how the expert’s fee will be determined and who will be responsible.

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By interviewing proposed experts using the above criteria, you will help ensure that your financial expert will be an asset to your case.

 
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