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Law 101: Legal Guide for the Forensic Expert

Problem Areas When Communicating With Attorneys

Experts routinely identify several problems when communicating with attorneys. In order of priority, they include the following:  

  • Lawyers are too busy to discuss the case priorities.
  • They do not understand technical scientific language.
  • They do not listen to the experts.
  • They are too aggressive and adversarial.
  • They often do not return phone calls.
  • They oversimplify complex issues and require "yes" or "no" answers.
  • They contact the expert at the last minute.

 Experienced experts suggest that attorneys could improve communication in the following ways:   

  • Giving the expert more time.
  • Planning ahead and being better organized.
  • Attending technical training seminars.

The expert and the attorney share the responsibility for communicating effectively with each other. The expert must translate technical terms and concepts for the attorney. The attorney must translate the legal vocabulary for the expert. Counsel can help the expert understand the goals and objectives and can focus on the most important points to emphasize in the expert's testimony. Developing one or more working hypotheses will enhance their mutual understanding.

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