Considerations for Expert Appraisers

By Alex Rosenberg

There are a number of steps one must take toward becoming more important as an appraiser. If one is a recognized specialist in a given field, he or she will be called upon either to act as an appraiser in important cases or act as an expert witness or both in cases involving large sums of money.

This is a particularly lucrative field as fees of $5,000 or more per day for testifying in court are common. In addition, you will be paid handsomely for your participation in depositions and examinations before trial, as well as for preparing yourself for these occasions.

However, to be able to grab the ‘golden ring,’ you must prepare yourself and once having achieved recognition, maintain your position. Your dress, demeanor and any verbal or written correspondence must be reserved. At all times your titles, such as: AAA, Dr. or Master, or Former President or Professor, or Member of Education Committee or Board of Trustee, must be featured. Don’t quickly become Bill or Jane, but remain Doctor or Professor for as long as possible.

Try to wear conservative clothing and keep your conversations with clients and attorneys on a level that showcases your position.

When testifying as an expert witness, it is crucially important that you act and appear as an expert. Your replies should be short and to the point. Never appear uncertain or ramble on as these behaviorisms can be viewed by a jury as uncertainty on your part. If you require time to answer a question, take the time you need as it is better to do this than to give an uncertain reply.

If you have a title such as Doctor or Professor, be certain the attorney you represent refers to you as such. This will most often cause the opposing attorney to do likewise and give you an aura of greater professionalism in the eyes of the jury.

Above all, dress and act the part of the authoritative professional without appearing to “laud your superiority” over the members of the jury. The specialized testimony you give and that of your opposing expert will most often, all or in part, not be understood by the jury. In this case, their opinion will invariably be decided by concluding which witness they believe was most truthful.

Train yourself to be comfortable when testifying and try to be disarming in your replies as this is taken as a sign of competence by the jury, and above all, when replying to a question, look to the jury, not the questioner.

After having said this, we get down to the nitty-gritty of what makes you an expert witness; what are the actual requirements that supersede the ones previously mentioned?

More important than your presentation of what you believe makes you attractive as an expert witness is preparing your presentation to meet the criteria those hiring experts will demand in retaining you as an expert witness.

Your resume should meet the needs of the case for which you are applying but should use the following qualifications where applicable. If you cannot meet a sufficient number of the requirements, it may be difficult for you to gain the recognition you seek. Above all, your resume should prevent any future embarrassment to those who employ you.

The above text was originally published as chapter 5 in Advanced Problems in Appraising by Alex Rosenberg.


Alex Rosenberg

Alex Rosenberg is a former President of the Appraisers Association of America and a Certified Appraiser in personal property and fine art. He currently consults and appraises through his company, Alex Rosenberg Fine Art.

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