An expert witness consultant is a person who is hired by attorneys to testify in court about academic or technical knowledge. He or she may specialize in fields such as forensic science, finance, psychology, or accident reconstruction. While some skills are more in demand than others, any person can take steps to establish him- or herself as an expert in his or her field. Many expert witnesses earn hourly rates based on their experience and availability.
Most people that want to become an expert witness consultant will earn a degree, certification, or title. This will show the world that they have dedicated an amount of their time to learning and studying the academic aspects of their field. Joining a professional organization, such as a fellowship or national alliance, will usually help as well. Many organizations offer to privately regulate members with standards equal to or higher than traditional regulatory agencies. A membership with some private organizations can be enough to show a person's worth to the world.
Touring the lecture circuit is another way to establish oneself as an expert. Being able to add a list of places where guest lectures have been given can further establish a person's credibility. Many organizations that have the ability to host a guest speaker, such as schools and large businesses, typically would welcome a guest speaker that can offer insight and knowledge. Many expert witnesses have written books, as well. Any person can self-publish a book and sell it on personal websites.
Perhaps the most important step to establishing credibility is marketing. Marketing in this sense is all about getting exposure. This will introduce future clients to the service you are attempting to offer as you become an expert witness consultant. While it is possible to become an expert witness consultant without going to school or writing a book, the process may prove to be considerably easier for people that decide to take the time to do so.
Expert witnesses are generally considered an important part of the criminal justice system. They help lawyers prove cases by offering experience and knowledge. To become an expert witness consultant, one does not have to be a full-time consultant — many witness consultants actually have full-time jobs. Expert witness consultants typically can pick how much or how little they work. They may decide to either work for one attorney at a time or work for several.
While there is no school established that can teach a person how to become an expert witness consultant, any person with expert knowledge on a subject, no matter what that subject is, could become a paid expert witness. While not every expertise will be needed as frequently as others, any person with an expertise on a subject could potentially be called on to testify as to their knowledge and experience. Anyone interested in becoming an expert witness should contact local attorneys to determine what local requirements exist for becoming an expert witness.