The Top 3 Tips for Navigating Expert Witness Collaboration
March 23, 2021
- The Main Takeaway: Virtual expert witness testimony is quickly becoming the new normal, due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
- Impact on Your Business: Virtual collaboration through tools and technology can help ease virtual communication between litigation teams and witnesses.
- Next Steps: The adoption of video-conferencing best practices is essential to ensure witness credibility, in both trial and deposition settings.
Contact Aprio’s Litigation Support and Forensic Accounting team if you need an accounting expert witness to testify virtually.
The full story:
Last May, the U.S. Supreme Court did something unexpected and groundbreaking: for the first time in history, it convened via telecommunication. What’s more, the Court made its argument available through a live audio stream, providing the public with a level of transparency it had never experienced before.
With the pandemic still ongoing, virtual testimony is quickly becoming the new normal in courtrooms across the globe. Here are three tips to prepare expert witnesses to provide virtual testimony in a streamlined and secure manner.
Collaborate through tools and technology
No matter what type of case you’re preparing for, you know that education and collaboration with expert witnesses are key. These tasks require back-and-forth, in-depth communication between your team and your expert to ensure you’re all on the same page regarding case specifics, which can become tricky when you can’t meet in-person due to the rules of discovery.
Invest in collaboration tools to inform the process. Secure, cloud-based document management systems like Box can make virtual document-sharing seamless, while platforms like Microsoft Teams or Google Hangouts can allow for easy interpersonal communication with expert witnesses.
Understand video-conferencing systems for expert witness testimony
Under the CARES Act, the U.S. court system offered funding for the instatement of video-conferencing technology. While you’re preparing your expert witnesses to appear virtually, make sure that they and your team are well-versed in the video-conferencing platform the court or court reporter utilizes; popular options include Zoom and GoToMeeting, while some court reporting companies have proprietary versions of these popular platforms. Prior to a witness’s court appearance, pre-schedule a “testing day,” in which you and your team can troubleshoot your internet connection and your witness’s camera and microphone settings to resolve issues before they arise.
It is also important to make sure you bring your expert witness up-to-speed on video-conferencing best practices. This includes ensuring the witness is sitting in a well-lit area with minimal-to-no background noise, is speaking clearly and is dressed professionally, has a professional profile picture when the camera is off, and edits their profile name to inform the court reporter who they are and what firm they work for.
Better navigate depositions
Exhibits are a pivotal focal point in depositions, and it’s essential for expert witnesses to understand how they will be presented to them in a virtual setting. Make sure that you establish an understanding of what documents or exhibits the expert should have printed out or available locally, as well as how exhibits will be presented on screen by counsel. It’s also imperative to coach your expert witness on facial expressions and body language and make plenty of time for pre-deposition testing to ensure you can communicate with your witness seamlessly (for instance, limiting echo or overlapping communication when conversing).
- Aprio’s Litigation Support and Forensic Accounting Services
- American Bar Association: How Litigators Are Confronting COVID in the Courtroom
- American Bar Association: Tips for Remote Video Hearings and Trials: Technology, Witnesses, Evidence, and Etiquette
The bottom line
Remote witness testimony is a product of the pandemic and will likely continue due to the significant cost and time savings that a virtual setting can provide.
At Aprio, our Litigation Support and Forensic Accounting team has counseled many expert witnesses and litigation teams, especially since the onset of the pandemic. Many members of our team have served as expert witnesses themselves and are prepared to provide the advice and best practices needed to succeed.
If you need an accounting expert witness to testify virtually and are interested in our services, contact our team today.
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