WilmerHale partners Felicia Ellsworth and Brent Gurney share keen observations drawn from their experience as successful trial lawyers in The Art and Science of Expert Witness Testimony: A Multidisciplinary Guide for Professionals by Karen Postal (Routledge, Sept. 2021).
Ellsworth and Gurney are featured among numerous jurists, academics and practicing lawyers who were interviewed for the book and discuss various considerations to keep in mind when working with expert witnesses during the trial preparation stage or actual trials, or when encountering them as courtroom adversaries.
For instance, Ellsworth noted that any plan to have an expert use a particular visual should also include an alternative approach in case the court sustains the other side’s objection to the planned visual. She recalled one such instance where an objection forced her expert to ditch his slide presentation for a white board. The workaround actually turned out well, perhaps even better than the original plan, because the expert could mark up the board as he talked, making his presentation more memorable. Plus his ability to quickly pivot earned him points with the jury.
Gurney underscored the importance of fielding not only diverse trial teams but expert witnesses as well because the nation’s increased diversity is reflected in the composition of many juries. Failing to present diverse expert witnesses can irreparably harm the effort from a trial’s outset to win a jury’s trust.