In When the Phone Rings … Twelve Questions for Prospective Expert Witness Assignments, insurance expert witness Kevin M. Quinley, CPCU, ARM, AIC writes:
Consultants and expert witnesses are more used to answering questions than asking them. When the phone rings, there may be an attorney or prospective client on the other end of the line. He or she poses questions to the consultant or expert, trying to gauge whether there is a good “fit” between the client’s needs and what the practitioner can offer in the way of experience and expertise.
After answering prospective clients’ questions, effective consultants and expert witnesses may have some queries of their own. In fact, they should. Here are 12 questions that can form the basis of an effective fact-gathering process which unearths aspects of a case to help the consultant and expert witness gauge the degree of fit.
(4) What is the key issue or issues for which you need an expert? This is what I call framing the issue. Attorneys often do what I call a “data vomit,” spewing facts over the phone. Often, it is easy to lose sight of the forest for all the trees. Yes, you need an overview and a lay of the land. At some point – off the meter, of course – you may need to diplomatically ask counsel, “On what issue exactly might you need my opinion?” This steers the attorney and the discussion to an outcome-oriented conclusion. You may find that the issue is outside of your realm of expertise. If so, best to know that now. Maybe you know of another expert who could be a better fit. Alternatively, you might find that the issue is right in your “sweet spot” of expertise. If you let counsel meander interminably, his or her need may not be clear. Do not be shy about asking, diplomatically.
Kevin M. Quinley is a leading authority on insurance issues, including risk management, claims, bad faith, coverages and litigation management. He is the author of more than 600 articles and 10 books. You can reach him through http://www.insuranceexpertnetwork.com/.