There are five top myths that are present in expert witness work that I want to debug or unwrap, and give you the other side of the equation so that you make your own decisions whether these are genuinely myths or facts or whether these are making the waters muddy for you. So I'll do my best to debunk them.
This list of five comes primarily from my discussions with expert witnesses over the years, and a lot of them are continually coming up with the same types of issues. So when I refer to the myth, this might resonate with you immediately or it might need some consideration to think how it's really held you back from either expanding or starting your expert witness work.
First on my list is that expert witness work takes a lot of time. There's this sense of overwhelming amounts of evidence and workload that's going to sort of creep into your already busy schedule. And in doing so, you're going to find that you're going to be completely overwhelmed and not be able to make any progress. So I want to give you the the other side of the equation where the expert witness work is organized and systemized based on your existing spare capacity. I use ‘spare’ quite loosely because that is up to you to define capacity in your diary. It is very much based on how structured your time is. I believe that with the correct structure, the correct approach, and the correct professional attitudes towards this type of work will limit the amount of time you need to spend doing this type of work, to the extent where it can be part and parcel of your working week. I think anything between two to five hours a week is at the sort of medium to upper end of capacity requirement for someone who does this on a fairly regular basis rather than sort of ad hoc work from time to time. Of course, that should be the aim for you if you're looking to create a regular stream of work or a regular stream of income and to become more and more invested in this type of work.
Next up on the list is the ethical issue. So the myth here is that the expert witness work is unethical.. There's that unfortunate interpretation that some might have about expert witnesses that you're doing some harm or you're doing something that's untoward. And I really want to dispel this myth head on because this is absolute nonsense. The expert’s duty is to the cause, and to remain fiercely independent. They are there to look at complex detailed information which cannot be deciphered by a judge, by a solicitor, or by a lay person. You are in a very privileged position to be able to help the courts understand complex matters in simple and easy to understand words and in easy to understand explanations. That is your role. You are there to help, essentially, the legal system to reach its decision regarding justice and your ability to provide independent evidence. Constantly remind yourself that your duties to the court will never make your work unethical, in my view.
Next up on the list is that there's a limited amount of work out there. This limited mindset is a real dangerous part of anything that somebody who is outside of the realm of employment is facing. They're talking themselves out of opportunities to expand themselves, both in their career in terms of their income and in terms of their view of the world. In turn, your ability to improve your everyday practice in your area of expertise. It's important to look at the facts that just in the UK alone, the clinical negligence and personal injury market is a multi billion pound market. This is a multi million billion dollar industry in one developed country. So if you've been dabbling or you've been considering this, look at the facts, do some research, find out how big the market is, and ultimately, ask yourself what is your contribution going to be within that market, and how much of that market share do you w