Child Welfare Expert Witness A. Monique Burns, PhD, ACSW, LCSW opines on when Expert Witnesses should be retained:
“Over the years I have been retained on numerous legal matters on issues related to child welfare. I have learned in several of these cases, that mention was made early on to request the assistance of a legal expert. However, the decision was delayed thinking the case would be settled or the services of a legal expert simply were not needed, only to discover down the road that in-fact, a legal expert was needed. This creates a difficult situation for all parties involved and is not in anyone’s best interest.
It is crucial to bring experts on board as early in the process as possible – well in advance of needing an expert report, depositions or testimony. When the need for an expert is recognized, don’t wait, go ahead and begin the search immediately and determine who may best meet the needs of the case.
In order for an expert to fully understand the background, the issues, and the particulars of a matter requires ample time so they may best advise and speak with any authority.
In many of the case in which I have been involved, I was able to identify and explain many necessary documents that counsel needed which otherwise could have been missed because of the unfamiliarity with the respective vocabulary and language.
The process of working with an expert can be much more like a collaborative research project wherein given time, we are able to cull through and discover content that may be overlooked or dismissed based on time constraints.
When the need for an expert is recognized, don’t wait, go ahead and begin the search and determine who may meet the needs of the case.”