Expert financial witnesses are invaluable when it comes to prevailing in the courtroom, whether in major criminal trials or minor civil disagreements. This provides attractive opportunities for an experienced financial advisor to serve as a retained expert witness providing testimony in court.

While the idea of getting involved in litigation may not be for everyone, it can be a lucrative option. However, appearing as an expert witness is not without its own unique set of challenges.

This overview provides a crash course on how to successfully serve as an expert witness, from conducting a small business valuation in a divorce to examining unscrupulous accounting practices in the next Enron-esque fiasco.

Becoming Qualified As An Expert
Prior to taking the stand, a potential financial expert must be qualified as an expert witness by the court, which involves a determination that the witness is qualified in the particular field, is credible and can provide evidence that will assist the finder of fact in determining the outcome of  the case.

Qualification as an expert witness is a crucial step for any kind of financial advisor who wishes to act as a retained expert, as it can be difficult to be admitted as a witness in future cases once you are disqualified by a judge.

The Daubert Standard is currently used by the majority of courts to determine the reliability of an expert’s testimony and whether it will be accepted at trial. This includes four factors the judge must consider, including the validity of the methodology and whether the theories utilized are widely accepted in the applicable field.

Keeping your CV current with the most recent accreditations, certificates, awards, peer-reviewed papers, articles in major publications, other cases you have testified in, etc., will help prevent the opposing party from disqualifying you as a witness.

The first round of questions once you take the stand will typically be regarding your qualifications, as it first must be proven to the court that you undoubtedly meet the Daubert Standard for expert testimony before you will be permitted to testify.

Preparing For Testimony And Staying Up To Speed
One of your primary purposes as a retained expert is to educate the judge, jury and even the attorneys involved with the case in your field, which is likely to be fairly unknown to the rest of those involved in the case. 

You must also be able to condense and simplify the primary concepts of your testimony so that you can get your point across to lay people who do not understand the complexities and nuances of your area of expertise in a limited amount of time -- all while selling to the judge or jury that your interpretation of the evidence and your theories are correct.

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