You could be an expert witness

Not everyone called before a jury has an advanced degree. It's about expertise

Those of us working in the legal industry know that there are hundreds, if not thousands, of variations and sub-variations in the practice of law. Strangers unfamiliar with our practice may believe we can answer any cocktail party question about the merits of their divorce case or employer policies, despite never having practiced family or employment law. Responding by asking if they would visit their ophthalmologist for a broken toe can help them realize the error of their ways, but you may need a glass of wine or two to work up to such a response.

Similar to the common misconceptions around the many practices of law, it is little known to people outside the legal industry that someone in just about any profession can be an expert witness. Serving as an expert on a case can actually be quite lucrative, but most people are simply unaware that the opportunity exists. Likely due to the slew of popular crime shows on primetime TV, the term “expert witness” typically conjures up images medical professionals or psychiatrists taking the stand.

The basic requirement for an expert witness to be qualified to provide input on a case or testify in court is for him or her to possess knowledge or expertise that goes beyond the ordinary layperson. One does not need to hold a doctorate degree, have a special certification or be a licensed professional to work as an expert witness. Federal Rule of Evidence 702 states an expert witness that is qualified by skill, knowledge, training, education, or experience can testify in the form of an opinion.

There are all types of expert witnesses out there who do not have doctoral degrees but are still quite successful due to their unique experience and knowledge. Some experts have no college degree at all, such as a mechanic, arborist, accident reconstructionist, etc. We once had to hunt down a portable toilet expert for a case, and there are no existing certifications for that area of expertise!

The bottom line is that anyone with the right credentials can offer their expertise to a legal team. Litigators need expert witnesses in practically every field of work, from technology to construction, to transportation to fashion and food and everything in between.

If you are interested in making yourself available as an expert in your field, there are many location services and online databases where you can simply submit your qualifications. Some of those services will even provide admin support, working as a liaison with legal professionals, negotiating your rates and managing your invoicing processes. All you need to bring is the wealth of knowledge inside your head that came from years of experience in your field.

Put your knowledge to good use, enjoy being an integral part of the legal system and make a little extra cash on the side!

Categories: Business Insights, Legal