Selecting an Expert Witness | RKL LLP
Posted on: December 11th, 2014

Business Litigation: Seven Factors to Consider in Selecting an Expert Witness

Selecting the right expert witness for your case can be a critical factor in fostering successful outcomes.

Selecting the right expert witness for your case can be a critical factor in fostering successful outcomes.

Have you ever been a party to a lawsuit? Has your company been the victim of employee theft? Have you been involved in a shareholder dispute? If any of these unfortunate events have happened to you, then you know how stressful litigation can be.  It often goes on for years and can make an IRS audit look like a walk in the park.

As a litigation consultant, I assist my clients in navigating legal financial matters – from reconstruction of financial records to damage calculations.  Our reports are used by attorneys in mediation, settlement discussions, and even in court.

Often the search for the right financial expert happens early in the process. I am often asked by clients and attorneys how they should go about selecting the right expert for their case. While the task may seem confusing, it doesn’t have to be that way.  Here are a few tips to help you make the right decision:

  1. Make sure your expert is willing to see the case through to the end. Many professionals avoid deposition and testimony.  You should be sure your selected expert is willing and able to fulfill their obligations and take the stand, if necessary.
  2. Avoid experts who have “regular” tax or audit client loads. Recurring clients will almost always take precedence during tax season, leaving you without your expert’s attention for a third of the year.
  3. Make sure your expert has a good team behind them.  Litigation can drag out over a long time. You don’t want to be left without an expert – and starting again at square one – late in the process.  Having a strong team behind your expert means you will have support, even if your chosen expert is not able to see the case through.
  4. Don’t be too narrow in evaluating industry expertise. While specific industry knowledge may at first seem to be paramount, that is not always the case. Don’t discount the value that varied experience brings to the table.  An expert who has done a wide variety of cases and practiced in several disciplines often brings a deeper understanding of complex issues. They can also adapt better to the inevitable twists and turns of the case.
  5. Give yourself options. Even if you have had a great experience with a certain expert in the past, be willing to consider going in a different direction. Every case is unique. Talk to a few experts to be sure you select the best one for the matter at hand.
  6. Qualifications matter – especially in court.  While the CPA designation is certainly highly respected, evaluate if your case needs an expert with additional industry credentials or specialized valuation or fraud designations.
  7. Lastly, make sure you are personally comfortable with the selected expert’s style and approach.  Litigation is often stressful.  Choosing an expert that find easy to communicate with and trust can help to make the process go smoothly

At RKL, we work closely with attorneys and clients to research, quantify and and present the financial impact of business disputes and economic damages. Our team stands apart for their extensive accounting experience, specialized training and credentials in the areas of business valuation, forensic accounting and related disciplines, as well as their dedication to ensuring each case gets the attention it deserves. Learn more about RKL’s Business Litigation Services.

Contributed by Bethany A. Novis, CPA/ABV, CVA, CFE, a partner in RKL’s Business fraud forensic accounting lancaster paConsulting Services Group and managing partner of RKL’s Lancaster office. Bethany specializes in fraud investigation, business valuation and litigation services. In addition to being a licensed CPA accredited in business valuation, she holds designations as a Certified Valuation Analyst (CVA) and a Certified Fraud Examiner (CFE).

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