In addition to qualifications to substantiate their opinions, expert witnesses need several different skills to be effective. Expert witnesses must be able to clearly and concisely present to a court issues that are often complex and difficult for a layperson to understand. Any expert witness who wishes to maintain their credibility must also be able to speak truth to power, providing their honest, good-faith opinion on the matters before them, even if the person or law firm that hired them would prefer a different conclusion.
Additionally, the ability to testify in court with confidence and to answer difficult or loaded questions from opposing counsel on cross-examination are valuable skills for any witness, but especially for an expert witness. The expert’s opinion often carries a great deal of weight in complicated legal proceedings, and that responsibility must be taken seriously.