Quality expert reports can make or break a case!
Errors or omissions in an expert report may preclude the expert report from evidence and preclude the opinion of the expert from testimony.
Quality Expert Reports (effective and efficient)
Various best practice habits when preparing expert reports can help ensure a well-crafted document that is both effective and efficient in the courtroom.
Prior to drafting a report, the expert should review the required scope of the report with the representative (lawyer or paralegal) that seeks the report. Depending on the nature of the case at bar, the report may require broad detail or may require a narrowed focus. In certain circumstances, a brief report is adequate. In other circumstances, a lengthy report is necessary. Forgoing this review can result in the waste of preparing an insufficient report or the waste of preparing an excessive report. Either is a waste of time and therefore money.
It is also necessary that the supporting evidence documents reviewed by the expert are adequately included and properly referenced. The expert opinion contained within a report should, and perhaps must, refer to supporting evidence documents such as pictures or testing results, among other things, attached as appendices or schedules. Additionally, a bibliography to summarize any authoritative documents used for research should be included.
The report should read clearly with ease and appear professional and proofed for proper spelling, grammar, and punctuation. The expert should write in a style directed towards the intended audience, balancing need that the report be understood by an average layperson without belittling highly intelligent judges and lawyers or other experts. Reports should omit or limit industry specific jargon and abbreviations; but if such is necessary, include definitions.
Things to Avoid
A biased or slanted expert report can be disastrous – and should be!
Lastly, remain attentive to the balance required when obtaining input from a legal representative. The lawyer or paralegal seeking the report will best understand the factual concerns and legal issues that relate to why the report is needed and can explain the desired scope; however, the findings and opinions within the report must always remain the genuine views of the expert as author of the report.