Law for Experts "connects the dots" and shows you how a practical understanding of law, procedure and legal terminology will make you markedly more effective and successful. This is a lively and intense course. We have carefully condensed a huge body of knowledge into a very manageable program, thus allowing experts to learn what they need to know about the legal system. You will learn how to think and speak like the lawyers who retain them. Common "legalese" will be made comprehensible and experts will learn the procedural and substantive laws which impact them and govern legal disputes including: civil procedure, discovery, trial practice, causes of action, affirmative defenses, evidence, contracts, negligence, Daubert/Frye and the legal rules and concepts most relevant to expert witnesses.
-Over 11 hours of streaming on demand content (1 year license);
-Detailed 228 page written manual (PDF and free bound hard copy mailed upon request to learners in the USA);
-50% discount on your new or renewal standard listing in SEAK's Expert Directory (offer expires 30 days after registration for course);
-15-20 minute private phone conference with SEAK to answer your questions;
-30 Day Money Back Guarantee; and
-Up to 11.5 CME for physicians and potential for credit for some other specialties, see below.
Attendees will learn:
- What retaining lawyers need to prove, how they need to prove it and how experts fit into the process;
- How to think and speak like a lawyer and how to understand "legalese";
- How to identify the high value cases which allow you to charge premium fees;
- The scope and limits of discovery and your options to fight back against unreasonable discovery requests and abuse;
- How lawyers exclude expert testimony and what you can do to prevent being excluded;
- What lawyers can and cannot ask you at deposition and trial, and why;
- The law of negligence, contracts, and damages, which are the areas of civil law that most commonly use expert testimony;
- The ins and outs of how a lawsuit works and the ethical and other rules the attorneys must follow;
- The anatomy of a civil trial;
- The rules associated with depositions including fees, length, scope, instructions not to answer, etc.; and
- Issues that give rise to expert witness liability and risk management strategies for experts.
Overview of Topics:
Fundamentals of the American Legal System
You will learn how the legal system you are supporting really works. Faculty will discuss the relationship between state and federal constitutional law, statutory and administrative law, state and local law, and common law. Attendees will also learn how appeals work and how administrative law disputes are adjudicated. Experts will also gain a working understanding of preemption, binding authority, persuasive authority, and how to distinguish case law.
Thinking Like a Lawyer, Part I - Elements of a Cause of Action
You will learn how to “think like a lawyer” by breaking down a potential cause of action into its component elements. The faculty will explain how important it is for experts to understand how he/she fits into retaining lawyer’s case and which elements of a cause of action the expert is and is not opining on.
Thinking Like a Lawyer, Part II - Affirmative Defenses
You will learn how lawyers are taught to defend against causes of action that can otherwise be successfully proven by the plaintiff. You will learn how some of the most common and important of these defenses work and how these defenses are relevant to their role as an expert witness in a case, including statutes of limitations, contributory and comparative negligence, assumption of the risk, workers’ compensation exclusivity, charitable immunity, and sovereign immunity.
The Law of Negligence
Experts are often retained for cases alleging negligence. In addition, experts can be subjected to claims for negligence stemming from their work as an expert or other professional and personal activities. In this section, you will learn the four elements of negligence, the expert’s role in proving, defending, and mitigating negligence claims, and why attorneys in negligence cases often need the opinions of several expert witnesses.
Damages, Valuing Cases, and the Economics of a Lawsuit
Proving or defeating a claim of damages is critical to the success of a case, and lawyers often call upon expert witnesses to assist in this regard. In this section, you will learn the types of permissible damages allowed under tort and contract law, including compensatory damages, medical and emotional damages, economic damages, expectation damages, consequential damages, future damages (including future lost wages and future lost earnings and sales projections), and punitive damages. You will also learn how a lawyer uses the measure of damages to value cases. We will discuss how attendees can add value to these cases and recognize and seek out the highest value cases such that they can charge a premium amount for their expert services and take the time necessary to do their highest-level work.
Anatomy of a Lawsuit
You will learn what actually happens behind the scenes in a lawsuit and why it happens. This insight is extremely helpful to the expert witness in understanding counsel’s expectations, as well as the timing, context, and meaning of the expert witness’ participation in the case. Included will be a discussion of complaints, answers, affirmative defenses, discovery motions, summary judgment, motions to dismiss, remedies, and appeals.
Insurance has a huge effect on how many types of litigation are conducted and resolved. Expert witnesses need a working knowledge of how liability insurance works in the context of a lawsuit. Such knowledge will assist the expert in his work as an expert witness, and also in his own personal and professional risk management. Specific topics covered in this section include how to read and understand an insurance policy, the meaning of key clauses in liability insurance contracts, the duty to indemnify, the control of the defense, cooperation clauses, bad faith actions, exclusions, policy limits and the key differences between occurrence and claims made policies.
The Law of Contracts
Expert witnesses are often retained in cases involving contractual rights or issues. In this section experts will learn the law of contract formation, breach, defenses, and important contract clauses that materially affect the rights of parties. Experts will also learn how lawyers use experts to prove the existence of legally recognized contract defenses and damages, which contracts needs to be in writing, and how courts interpret oral, implied, express, and written contracts.
The Discovery Process and Avoiding Discovery Abuse
The discovery process typically eats up most of the time and money in a lawsuit. In this section, you will learn the legally permissible rules that govern the scope of discovery. You will also learn the various methods attorneys use within this process to maximize their advantage, including interrogatories, requests for production of documents, depositions, subpoenas duces tecum, physical examinations, and requests for admissions. Included will be a discussion of specific discovery scenarios that make experts vulnerable to potential attorney abuse of this process and how experts can “fight back”.
Legal Requirements of Expert Witness Report Writing
You will learn what is legally required for expert witness report writing, including expressing expert opinions clearly, confidently, and with supporting rationale. The discussion will also include preparing Rule 26 reports for federal court, and the specific legal rules that govern what must be included in those expert witness reports.
The Law of Depositions: In Depth
In this section, you will learn the ins and outs of the law of depositions, including the types of question they can be expected to face, the role of retaining counsel, what attorney stipulations and objections mean, who is likely to attend their deposition, the rules governing reading and signing, when expert depositions can and cannot occur, the permissible length of depositions, the rules regarding payment of the expert’s fee, how to deal with abusive questioning, and the special considerations that exist during video depositions.
Daubert and the 700 Series of Rules Dealing with Expert Witnesses
You will learn the laws that govern how and why a person is qualified to testify as an expert witness, the strategies attorneys use to prevent expert witnesses from testifying at trial, including the use of Daubert/Frye motions, and additional expert testimony rules that govern both the types of facts and data that experts can rely upon in forming their opinion, as well as the types of opinions that experts should and should not offer.
What Happens at a Civil Trial
This section covers the key aspects of a civil trial, including the role of the judge, jury, fact witnesses and expert witnesses, as well as the legal maneuvers attorneys make during the trial which affect the presentation of expert testimony.
What Can and Cannot be Asked of an Expert Witness at Trial
You will learn the role that the rules of evidence play in the presentation of evidence. You will also learn how evidence rules such as relevance and unfair prejudice can limit what the jury hears even if the expert thinks the evidence is relevant. You will further learn how these rules affect the kinds of questions attorneys can ask expert witnesses during direct and cross-examination.
The Hearsay Rule and How it Affects Expert Testimony
You will learn the key aspects of the hearsay rule, how attorneys invoke the rule, and why hearsay rules do not apply at deposition but do apply at trial. You will further learn how expert witnesses must keep these rules in mind when forming their opinions, expressing their opinions, determining what facts or statements on which they rely on and can base their opinions, and testifying at deposition and trial.
Jury Trials: What Experts Need to Know
This section covers the rules governing the jury’s role in the case, and the specific legal rules, best practices and courtroom etiquette that govern an expert’s interaction with the jury.
Expert Witness Liability and Risk Management
You will learn the traps for the unwary which can subject experts to criminal, civil and professional liability. Practical suggestions to avoid liability and manage risk will be provided.