You must’ve seen experts testifying for factual evidence in court, but did you know you can become a successful expert witness in your respective field? Here’s my list of expert witness jobs where you can choose one that fits your skill set.
Did you know you can share your expertise in your respective field to earn more than $300 per hour? Sounds astonishing, but whichever profession you belong to, you can register yourself as an expert and make some extra money.
If you are a lawyer, there are options to choose from a freelance platform so you can showcase your profession and skills. You can do your job search to know which is the best option.
But what is an expert witness? Simply enough, they are professionals who assess any given information, testimony, or evidence provided during legal proceedings according to their professional expertise.
Whether you’re a doctor, psychiatrist, or finance expert, you can easily get high-paying expert witness jobs. This article will explain the basics of expert witness job positions and some popular options for you to consider.
What is an Expert Witness?
An expert witness is an accomplished professional in his respective field who uses his expertise to evaluate the information provided in court. He can either conduct this evaluation by citing facts from his expert knowledge or providing additional information that backs the discussion.
Mainly, courts hire professionals for expert witness positions because they can provide an impartial, professional opinion according to their field, which others cannot. This helps the judiciary system resolve the dispute in a tribunal trial.
Also, for businesses that want to hire a lawyer, it is suggested to read articles before hiring one to avoid any mistakes in the long run.
Who Can Become an Expert Witness?
A person can only become an expert if they fulfill some specific conditions. The testimony’s subject matter must, first and foremost, be related to the expert’s field of study. An expert may qualify as an expert witness if he has specialized knowledge that might help the court to determine a fact in the dispute or understand the evidence.
Some people may qualify as an expert because of their educational background, while others may have acquired their expertise via professional experience and not academics.
Many family law cases deal with highly emotional matters. Because of this reason, expert witnesses may play a crucial part in helping the court understand various psychological, financial, social, and technical concerns. Pension valuators, business or real estate appraisers, and accountants are examples of professionals used in divorce cases to determine an equitable distribution of assets.
Additionally, financial planners and vocational consulting specialists are frequently used as experts in child support and alimony cases. Mental-health professionals, child custody evaluators, social workers, and doctors are some examples of the experts used in custody cases.
Furthermore, to show in-depth knowledge of their subject area, the expert’s skills and qualifications must show that the expert witness testimony is trustworthy.
Financial planners, business and real estate appraisers, and forensic accounting professionals often base their conclusions on tried-and-true procedures and concepts that are easy to defend, so these extra elements would not disqualify their evidence. However, it’s a challenge for attorneys to accept the judgments of experts whose techniques and methods are more difficult to explain and defend.
All in all, there are very particular guidelines that must be followed when establishing someone’s qualification as an expert and the reliability of their evidence.
What Does It Take To Become an Expert Witness?
While testifying in court using prior knowledge sounds like a great idea to make some extra money, expert job positions have some requirements. According to Rule 702 of the Federal Rules of Evidence, expert witnesses should pass four basic tests before qualifying for the job.
Firstly, they should be a court-qualified expert witness in their respective fields. They will only accept an expert’s job application if the applicant provides legitimate proof of his academic accomplishments.
However, the candidate applying for expert job positions does not need to be the best in his field. Nevertheless, it is vital that his qualification and understanding of the subject should be higher than that of the jury.
Secondly, the testimony provided by job applicants should be reliable and factual. The data provided by the witness should be unambiguous and adhere to the standard practices from his respective field.
Thirdly, the expert should provide valuable information that helps the jury conclude without further complicating the case. For example, suppose an expert bases his testimony on personal assumptions rather than facts and reasoning. The court will not use the information to resolve the dispute at hand in this case.
Fourthly and most importantly, the expert witness’s facts should comply with the foundational facts agreed upon by other experts from the field.
Additionally, if you’re looking for expert witness job positions, you’ll have to prepare yourself for rigorous cross-examination, acquire excellent communication skills, work to meet deadlines, and prepare comprehensive reports.
The Roles and Responsibilities of an Expert Witness
As an expert witness, you have the following roles and responsibilities:
- Deliver an independent expert opinion on the subject in your field of expertise as per the instructions given. The opposite party and the court can view these instructions in the expert witness’s report.
- Provide your opinion in the form of evidence or report before a court (or other authority). The expert’s report is necessary as you cannot provide testimony without it.
- Make sure the Expert’s Report you provided includes the details as per the Court Rules. If you proceed further, you must provide the report’s copy to the opposing party in the dispute. At the same time, you will also receive the Expert Report from the opposing side.
- Offer unbiased, truthful, and accurate viewpoints, whether or not they support your cause.
- Respect and comply with any Court or tribunal Orders and the specific process regulations applicable.
- The court will reject the testimony of an expert who is or seems biased because the court expects you to be impartial and independent.
- As an expert, you owe the court a supreme obligation. Even though you are still liable to pay the expert’s fees, this responsibility outweighs any duty owed to you.
As an expert witness, you will not do the following:
- Look for evidence, offer a strategy for the case, or act as an advocate. It is primarily the responsibility of a legal representative to present the case.
- Provide any sort of advice.
- Give any insight outside of your area of expertise.
- Engage in negotiation.
- Accept any appointment that comes with conditions, depending on how the case turns out. Some examples include conditional fees and success fee arrangements (any form of payment linked to the case results). If an expert witness accepts any conditional terms, they cannot be seen as independent.
- Accept any type of appointment, even if they present a conflict of interest (unless resolvable by disclosure).
Types of Expert Witnesses
Professional experts looking for expert witness job positions can choose from three types of job opportunities. The kind of job opening you choose will decide your remuneration, work hours, and primary duties.
1. Party-Appointed Expert Witnesses
As the name suggests, one of the two disputing parties hires these expert witnesses. However, according to the law, the expert does not have any obligation toward a party, even in this case.
He will provide a factual explanation based on his education to make it easier for the court to derive a proper judgment. Usually, parties hire an expert witness to establish their stance in court.
2. Single-Joint Expert Witnesses
In this case, both parties involved in the dispute hire an expert witness. The expert’s job is to provide an impartial factual response to settle the dispute.
As with party-appointed expert witnesses, these employees do not need to report to their employers but rather to the court itself. They have to come up with an impartial statement that helps the court reach a legit conclusion.
3. Background Expert Adviser
A background expert adviser does not have to testify in court or create a comprehensive factual report regarding the case. Either of the two parties hires such advisers.
Their job is to advise their clients through their expertise to help them clarify their stance in court. These expert advisers do not come under the Federal Rules of Evidence and may produce facts that support their employers.
However, as their duty is not to the court, they will not have to appear or provide any evidence in the court.
Best Expert Witness Jobs to Consider
Now that you have an idea about what is an expert witness when they are required and what types of jobs they take up, it’s time for my ultimate list. Here are the eleven high-paying expert witness job positions you can consider if you’re a professional in the field:
1. Medical Expert Witness
If you’re a doctor, nurse, therapist, or expert in any other medical field, you can earn good money part-time by taking up expert witness jobs in your field.
The best part is while other experts make around $300 per hour, medical expert witnesses can earn up to $500 for their full lifecycle training services in high-profile cases. Recent research also shows that medical experts can earn around 120% more than other expert witnesses.
As far as the job is concerned, your work as a medical expert can range from identifying malpractice on a victim, conducting independent medical examinations, or providing insight on specific injuries.
Similarly, in workers’ compensation cases, medical experts must identify the extent of the injury inflicted, the treatment costs, and the long-term damage that can potentially occur through the abuse.
Besides that, in homicide cases, medical experts can differentiate legally between the terms ‘great bodily harm’ and ‘substantial bodily harm.’ This decision profoundly influences the concluding verdict or sentence at which the court arrives.
2. Mental Health Expert Witness
If you’re a psychiatrist or a therapist by profession, you can become an expert witness in many cases. There are several situations in a courtroom where the jury needs to evaluate the victims, defendants, or witnesses’ mental health.
If you provide a thorough evaluation through your professional expertise, the court will reach a fair verdict, and you’ll get hourly compensation for your time.
Apart from the dramatic events where cold-blooded murderers plead insanity, you can use your expertise in other types of cases as well.
For example, suppose a man changes his will drastically, and his family revolts against the decision. In that case, your opinion can help evaluate whether the man made the changes in an ideal mental state.
Furthermore, mental health experts help determine whether the mother or the father is mentally able to care for the children in custodial cases.
3. Forensic Expert Witness
Forensic experts are the most commonly employed expert witnesses in court proceedings. If you’re skilled and educated in the field, you can testify in various cases to make extra money.
Usually, forensic experts are pictured stereotypically in criminal cases. For example, testing DNA samples from a murder site or identifying substances from the victim’s or defendant’s clothes.
However, the forensic expert witness job description is not restricted to these tasks. Instead, forensic professionals are also required in civil cases to specify aspects like blood alcohol levels in driving offenses. Besides, if you excel at structural forensics, you can efficiently work for insurance trials.
You can use your expertise to determine how a fire started in a burnt house or whether the structure fell on its own accord. This information would help courts decide whether to provide a verdict in favor of insurance companies or the plaintiff.
4. Financial Expert Witness
You do not necessarily have to be professionally trained in science subjects to become an expert witness. Even if you’re an expert in commerce subjects such as finance, you can provide factual references in court and get paid by the hour.
You can help the court pinpoint the exact value of particular ambiguous objects to settle disputes. These objects may range from antique collections, property, family businesses, jewelry, and even art collections.
Besides that, financial experts like you can also help in divorce cases. Your opinion can help the court conduct a perfect asset division. If a single party hires you, you can help them identify any hidden assets or properties of their opponent.
Furthermore, your advice can help the court provide a verdict in the case of tax consequences and lost wages in the event of a clash between two enterprises.
5. Financial Securities Expert Witness
These jobs are more or less the same as financial expert witness jobs. If you’re a securities operative at a bank and have experience in your career, you can use your expertise to assist courts in white-collar crime cases.
Let us face it, most of our lawyers and judiciary members cannot find their way around a well-composed financial fraud. As an expert, you can conduct thorough research and find out who was involved in financial malpractices.
Similarly, you can use your expertise to help with crimes conducted by well-known banks and financial institutions.
6. Child Psychology Expert Witness
In cases like divorce, child custody, and adoption, you require child psychology and parenting experts. These experts help figure out the emotional needs of the child in question. Using this information, the court can provide a definitive verdict regarding a child’s well-being.
Some child psychology experts also work with the court by conducting thorough research and preparing reports for each case. They stay with the children and evaluate their activities in both households. This helps the court pick the best home for the children.
This role may require additional training, but it is quite rewarding and pays well. So if you are working as a child psychologist, you can quickly establish yourself as an expert witness and generate a full-time income.
7. Vocational Expert Witness
Vocational expert witnesses are usually required in corporate or home court to provide their vocational evaluation. If you are an expert in this field, you can earn money by testifying whether a defendant is fit to take up a particular job or return to work after an accident or assault. This can help the court decide whether or not a defendant deserves paid leave from work.
Similarly, many human resource management experts in the vocational sector can provide their expert witness services in sexual harassment cases. They can define whether or not the said organization met the requirements to control sexual misconduct.
Apart from that, vocational expert witnesses can work in divorce cases. Here, their testimony can influence many decisions, such as how long a spouse should receive alimony or if a spouse can provide for children if there are any.
8. Engineering Expert Witness
If you are an engineering expert and have specific information about how certain products work and function in the long run, you can readily testify in court and earn money.
There are hundreds of liability cases registered every day where the jury needs proper evidence about the construction and manufacturing details.
This crucial expert information can help convict fraud manufacturers by identifying flaws in their products. Considering the victim is at fault without any functional defects in the development. Your expert opinion can help the enterprise save up on compensation charges.
9. Parenting Expert Witness
Parenting experts are often consulted in cases including divorce, adoption, and the abolition of parental rights. A parenting expert may offer expertise in various situations, such as determining if a parent’s recovery from addiction is adequately under control or assessing a child’s emotional readiness for handling an every-other-week schedule.
Parenting experts spend time with the parents and children, evaluate the quality of each parent’s home life, and then provide recommendations that are in the children’s best interests based on their experience and training.
10. Real Estate Broker Expert Witness
A real estate broker expert witness offers recommendations and testimony on matters relating to a real estate broker’s fiduciary ethics, responsibility, and liabilities. As the real estate industry can be highly complex, these experts provide in-depth analyses of brokerage compliance issues and real estate broker disclosure laws.
Real estate brokers have several responsibilities, including introducing, finding, and organizing real estate transactions between sellers and buyers. Occasionally, some problems may arise, including legal disagreements or broker misconduct.
Understanding the intricate laws and regulations that regulate brokers and brokerages is made much easier with the assistance of a real estate broker expert witness.
11. Construction Expert Witness
A building’s owners may decide to convert it at some point. For instance, the multi-family condos currently housed in the building can be converted into multi-family apartments.
There can be a problem with the construction leading to a disagreement between the owners and a third party. In this situation, a construction expert witness can help clarify the construction techniques while converting the apartment and pinpoint what exactly went wrong. They may also take difficult construction principles and make them simple enough for a layperson to understand.
How to Get Hired as an Expert Witness?
If you wondering what can be the best way to stand out as a potential expert witness? Here are some tips you can follow to become a strong candidate to acquire an expert witness job:
Update Your LinkedIn Profile
LinkedIn becomes a helpful resource when an attorney is looking for a candidate with certain qualifications, such as specific certifications, educational background, or geographic experience. Your LinkedIn profile should represent your most recent professional information if you want to appear as the best applicant.
To ensure that your name shows in searches, include relevant certifications, skills, job titles, programs (like Microsoft Office Suite), and keywords to your profile. The subjects experts provide opinions on in litigation might be quite specialized.
So the more specific the information on your profile, the simpler it will be for an attorney to identify you for an opportunity.
Work with Institutions that Will Introduce You to Lawyers
Working with a renowned company might help you get your foot in the door if you want to pursue a career as an expert witness.
Organizations with solid ties with attorneys may help you link with lawyers and a few cases that fit your area of expertise, giving you a more focused experience.
Become an Expert in Your Field
The probability of law firms contacting you improves when you have a strong online presence in addition to building your credibility in your field (and on the witness stand!).
To reach a larger audience, you must strive to be published in peer-reviewed journals, give lectures, be a part of conferences, publish articles, and share your expertise in any manner you can.
Having said that, choose what you publish carefully. If you write opinion articles that conflict with the testimony you provide at trial or in depositions, you may run the risk of opening yourself up to cross-examination.
Achieve Mutual Fit
You and the attorneys should achieve mutual understanding with the idea of you taking the expert witness opportunity. In your screening calls, you can ask a few questions to ensure a mutual fit.
You can set yourself up for success by asking the right questions and keeping open lines of communication. Remember, sometimes making a front-end investment will result in better long-term rewards.
Presentation Is Crucial
Even though you require vast experience, do not underestimate the value of a strong personal presentation. If you get an opportunity, speaking with attorneys is the first step in determining whether it is a good fit for you.
After that, you need to understand the case’s subject matter well and be able to communicate your expertise in an approachable and clear way.
See Related: How to Get a Remote Job: Expert Tips for Success
Network, Network, and Network!
The best way to learn more about employment expert witnesses opportunities that could be a fit for your skills is to get to meet attorneys. Networking with peers, particularly those already working as expert witnesses, is equally crucial.
By using your expertise and continuing to network, you may get hired by law firms as an expert sooner than expected.
Answering the question of how to get more expert opportunities is not easy. However, the tips above will help you become a more appealing and visible candidate. Always keep in mind that these tips are only the initial steps toward locating and getting additional expert witness opportunities.
There will always be factors over which you have no control; factors such as geographic location, case timeline, and personality fit may prevent you from working on a case. But by advertising yourself more, it is more likely for you to find the best opportunity.
That concludes my list of expert witness jobs to consider. Apart from these options, you can find many other professional advice positions where experts can earn some side income.
The best part is whether you are doing the job for money or professional satisfaction, it is substantially rewarding.
Imagine you succeed in putting even one guilty individual behind bars. Or provide a reason to acquit a wrongly accused party. This will make you happy that you used your expertise to make the world a better place.
What Qualifies You to Become an Expert Witness?
You can become a court-qualified expert witness if you have sufficient experience, knowledge, and training necessary to assist the jury in making a factual determination. Federal and state laws each have slightly different rules regarding whether someone qualifies as an expert witness.
What Are the Duties of an Expert Witness?
An expert witness has several duties, including conducting the required tests, reviewing the required materials, forming an opinion on a factual problem, and testifying regarding the issues at trial. Overall, an expert witness’s responsibility is to conduct thorough research, evaluate, or investigate the case to express an opinion on a particular matter.