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Today’s guest post is from Rosemary Coates, an expert on Chinese manufacturing and supply-chain and, unsurprisingly, a sought-after expert witness (who I had the pleasure of training many years ago). Rosemary offers:

I enjoy the challenges that expert legal work provides and the opportunity to work with some really brilliant lawyers. Here are seven simple ways to improve attorney-expert relationships: 

  1. After providing the complaint and other filings, get on the phone with your expert. I need to know your case strategy and the arguments you think are important.  If you want my testimony sharply focused, tell me what issues are most important and why.
  2. Introduce all experts to each other.  It may be helpful for experts to talk to each other.  This is your call, but usually, damages experts find my description of Chinese manufacturing or supply chain processes very helpful to their testimony.  I also need to understand how your other experts are approaching their damages arguments to make sure I have all the related topics covered in my report.
  3. Stay in touch. Don’t let me go weeks without hearing from you. Brief me from time to time on case developments; even a 10-minute phone call every two weeks or so helps me stay in touch and connected with the case. 
  4. Prep for my deposition. Plan on spending time with me, prepping for deposition and trial.  In fact, I now require this prior to agreeing to a deposition date.  The more we prepare, the better I feel about the deposition and the better it goes for everyone.  One of my favorite attorneys came to the deposition prep session with a list of the 10 hardest questions she thought opposing counsel would ask me.  This was extremely helpful.
  5. Tell your expert exactly what you expect re: billing detail. Generally, experts provide a few words about what they worked on each day and include these notes in their invoice.  If you want more detail, you need to tell me how much and what type.  Don’t wait until payment is past due to mention you want excruciating detail for every hour worked.  By then it’s too late.
  6. Pay your bills on time. Ahhh, yes, obvious, but so important!  Most expert witnesses are independent contractors who aren’t in position to finance your accounts payable.  Pay on time, as agreed.  Don’t force me to make collection calls because you haven’t processed my invoice.  This is an annoying time-waster for both of us.
  7. Give me feedback on how to improve. A short follow up call after the case is over is hugely helpful.  Tell me what I did well and where I can improve.  This will help me to get better for the next time we work together.

Honoring these simple practices will assure successful, enjoyable collaboration with experts, and strengthen your case.

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About the Author: Rosemary Coates

Ms. Coates is a Chinese Manufacturing Expert and the President of Blue Silk Consulting, a Global Supply Chain consulting firm.  She is the author of: 42 Rules for Sourcing and Manufacturing in China.  (Amazon.com Top Seller). Ms. Coates lives in Silicon Valley.

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