How to Become a Certified Expert Witness

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An expert witness is someone who can give testimony in a court of law using her area of expertise as it relates to the case being litigated. Expert witnesses can come from any field as long as it relates to the case. So there are psychology experts, handwriting experts, forensic experts and the like. Both sides of a case can bring in expert witnesses to support their arguments. There is no one formal process of expert witness certification that cuts across all disciplines and all jurisdictions. Most times it falls on the governing body of a particular professional discipline to certify its expert witnesses. Some jurisdictions also provide guidelines on meeting expert-witness requirements.

  • Get the appropriate education in your field. Whether you are a handwriting expert, a pathologist or a psychiatrist, the first step to becoming an expert witness recognized by law is to have the appropriate education and possibly the highest level of education required in your field. Also get any professional certifications required in your field and maintain those through continuing education.

  • Get the appropriate experience. Expert witnesses are called upon to give testimony based on their best judgment of the situation as it relates to their expertise. This kind of judgment is only acquired by experience. Therefore the more years you have been working in your field, the more credible an expert witness you are likely to be.

  • Become a reputable professional in the field. This could entail all kinds of things, but the bottom line is that whatever you do, and especially in offering expert testimony, you should be above reproach. This will garner you the respect of the defense and prosecution alike, as well favor with the jury.

  • Get certified if necessary. Not every professional community offers certification for its members as expert witnesses, but if your professional community does, then it is something you should explore. For example the American Society of General Surgeons and the American Council of Engineering Companies of Colorado both have expert witness certification programs. See Resources below for links to these programs.

  • Join a certified expert community and offer your services. There are certified expert witness groups both online and offline. It may be a good idea to join some of these groups as well as network with attorneys groups to offer your services as an expert witness. See the third link in Resources below for an online expert witness community.

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