The conventional wisdom of locating expert witnesses is to find someone with degrees from prestigious schools, honors in their field and experience testifying. Other typical advice includes focusing on those experts who present well and can communicate with a jury.
But Kirkland & Ellis partner Andrew R. McGaan believes that there are two other characteristics that are just as important. According to McGaan, an expert should have industry experience doing exactly what the case involves and should be passionate about the topic.
During an interview with Robert Ambrogi, McGaan used an expert located for him by IMS to illustrate this point.
He was defending a pipe manufacturer in a products liability claim brought by an oil refinery. With a large fire as the catalyst of the case, McGaan required an expert to evaluate how the refinery maintained its pipes, responded to the fire and later rebuilt the refinery. The ideal expert for the case would be thoroughly familiar with the design, maintenance and construction of an oil refinery.
IMS was able to locate and recruit a petroleum engineer for the case. He had spent years running and maintaining refineries and budgeting and overseeing their rebuilding after fires. He had even been president of an oil company that owned a refinery.
McGaan only had one concern: the expert had never testified before.
Despite these concerns, the expert handled testifying with no problems due to his practical experience and passion for the subject matter.
“Every time he was asked any question along the lines of, ‘How do you know that?’ his answer was, ‘Because I've done exactly that,’” Said McGaan. “While telling the story, whether on direct or cross-exam, it was obvious to everyone that he loved what he did – that he had a natural interest and passion for worrying about refinery problems and repairs.”
The take away from this is to hire experts who are passionate about their expertise. Their passion for a subject lends them credibility.
This article was taken in part from a previous post.
Tell us: Have you ever had a similar experience?