An unfortunate practice among many attorneys is to wait until the last minute to retain an Expert Witness. This has put a strain on the attitude that Experts have toward attorneys. As Expert Witnesses will tell you, waiting to hire them for their services can be detrimental to all parties involved in the case. It burdens the Expert to perform at his best, sometimes having to process months of information and produce his opinion under unreasonable time constraints. This is not to the benefit of the attorney or the client. One Expert we interviewed had this to say,
“…frustration mounts, anger sets in, and you quietly curse the Litigators for waiting until the very last minute to solidify your expertise for case leverage. Thoughts of putting the monkey on their backs run through your head, like why not add a penalty for putting me, the expert, into a position of having to now work 15 hours per day to perform at my best. Where do we as experts justify the pressure generated by firms in general, without any consideration of the hurdles we’ll have to run in order to offer professional expertise. Should we tack on additional billable hours as “Overtime” pay, or swallow the enchilada that this is just the way things are done in the expert witness arena, and reconcile that this is your job description, live with it?”
Some attorneys believe that hiring an Expert at the outset of a case may not be cost-effective. However, in many cases, the opposite is true. An article featured by the American Bar Association supports the view that the trend is toward retaining the Expert at the beginning of the case. The authors, Lisa Pierce Reisz, Esq. and David V. Dilenschneider, Esq., in their article entitled, “Early Case Assessment: Get Experts Involved From Day One” write that, “Many litigators and their in-house counsel clients recognize that this process facilitates better decision-making with respect to whether and how to proceed with a case-ultimately resulting in more certainty and a reduction of costs.” They go on to say that hiring the Expert well before the court-imposed deadline is just good strategy.
Is it possible to put an end to the love-hate relationship that exists between attorneys and experts? Maybe this is a step in the right direction.