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What makes a good expert witness directory? (Part 1) — For Attorneys

August 3, 2011

Attorneys are faced with a plethora of options when using a print or online directory to locate expert witnesses or research opposing experts.  Simply perform a basic Google search and dozens of sites appear.  So how can you narrow down the options without spending hours navigating through directory after directory?  Well upon closer inspection many of the expert witness directories violate some of the basic requirements of a useful online resource.  Five of the most notable deficiencies are discussed below and will help you eliminate expert witness directories with nothing more than a cursory glance.

Common deficiencies of expert witness directories:

  1. Difficult navigation and/or confusing categories.
    • If a site is difficult to navigate, it is a waste of time.  Plain and simple…go elsewhere.
  2.  Little or no search capability.
    • Expert directories often only provide a list of expert witnesses by name or specialty.  Reviewing page after page of listings without a simple search system can be extremely annoying.  In this era of “Googling” practically anything, a powerful search system is a must-have feature.
  3. No contact information.
    • Some directories list an expert’s credentials without disclosing contact information.  The reader is encouraged to contact the listing organization (and pay a fee) in order to contact the specific expert.  This model requires that additional time and money are invested in research which only complicates the due diligence process.
  4. Irrelevant profile information.
    • Expert witness directories that only include phonebook-like listings with names, addresses and profession do not save any time.  Further internet research or phone calls are required to properly vet the expert.  In contrast, directories with educational, license and professional information about each expert witness allow attorneys to short list potential experts.  Some directories go even further and feature documents pertaining to each expert such as curriculum vitae and prior testimony transcripts as well as feedback from attorneys who have worked with the expert witness.
  5. Too few profiles.
    • Comparing experts is a crucial step when researching experts to hire.  Unfortunately, many directories have so few listings that such comparisons are difficult to obtain.  As more experts complete profile information, more attorneys will use the directory, which in turn attracts even more experts.  So the moral of the story…avoid directories with only a limited number of listings.

When considering using an expert witness directory, you should be mindful of these potential pitfalls.  In contrast, the best expert witness directories contain abundant, clearly organized useful information with the following key features:

  1. Clearly labeled and intuitive classification systems
  2. The ability to quickly and easily search profiles using keywords, area of expertise and/or location
  3. Current and accurate contact information for profiled expert witnesses
  4. Meaningful professional information such as prior testimony experiences, published articles and performance reviews
  5. A large enough database of profiles to provide sufficient options to consider

Utilizing expert witness directories that incorporate these best practices, will likely save you valuable time when researching both your own potential experts and those of opposing counsel.

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