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 one 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.

Liability Insurance

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.

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Nadine Nasser Donovan, Esq., is a former trial lawyer with extensive litigation experience. She is SEAK's lead trainer and has been on the SEAK Faculty since 2002, having trained countless experts via SEAK’s scheduled courses, customized on site expert witness training programs, and one-on-one consulting. Nadine is the co-author of the SEAK texts, How to Be an Effective Expert Witness at Deposition and Trial: The SEAK Guide to Testifying as an Expert Witness; How to Write an Expert Witness Report and How to Be a Successful Expert Witness: SEAK’s A-Z Guide to Expert Witnessing. She is licensed to practice law in New York, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island.

In addition, Nadine is a Legal Writing Instructor at Boston University School of Law. Nadine also serves as a Dispute Resolution Arbitrator for the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority. Nadine previously practiced litigation for 21 years. She spent 18 years in the defense of medical professionals in medical malpractice actions and before medical licensing boards. Nadine started off her legal career in New York City, first as a prosecutor in Queens, and then as counsel for the City of New York. Nadine received her J.D. cum laude from Boston College Law School. She graduated from Fordham University, summa cum laude, with a B.A. in French Literature. She can be contacted at 617-791-4282 or [email protected].

Sample Clips:

Legal Requirements for Rule 26 Reports in Federal Court

How to deal with abusive questioning at an expert witness deposition

Here’s what your colleagues have to say about Law for Experts:

“Nadine, Thank you. Without a doubt the best training I've had in preparing myself for being an expert on the stand. Your class was my first SEAK training, and I'll be back to more SEAK courses. I appreciate the legal background and experience you bring to teaching your class. I appreciate your support, and I hope to truly be a good objective, truthful, prepared witness. I will certainly be much better because of the training I've had the last few days. I hope you have a great day and thank you again for sharing your experience and skill with us.”

“The program was extremely valuable for context and perspective on our litigated assignments.”

“Amazing job! That was the best conference I have ever attended! (And being a doctor for 29 years, I have attended and spoken at a LOT of conferences.)”

"I really enjoyed listening to Mrs. Donovan, especially on an online format (which I usually hate). She was engaging and energetic."

“On the way home I wrote 8 full yellow-pad pages of action items from your class! It'll probably take me a year to implement them!”

"Well done! I will definitely take more courses from you in the future!"

“Excellent! – lots of info presented in a short time”

“Great job. Quick moving and interesting”

“Awesome! The best, more entertaining, informative and useful seminar I have ever attended. Essential information for the serious and credible expert. Should be a prerequisite for all experts.”

“Great! Nadine was a dynamic speaker, the course book is well done”

“Very informative”

“Nadine was fantastic – great instructor”


“Nadine is awesome! Witty, smart, tough, engaging”

Continuing Education Credits:

Accident Reconstructionists: SEAK will apply for credits through ACTAR upon written request at the time of registration. SEAK has been informed by ACTAR that stream on demand courses are acceptable for accreditation. Accountants: The National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA) has informed SEAK that unfortunately credits are not available for a stream on demand course of this type that does not involve live faculty at all times. Arborists: Credits from the ISA are unfortunately not available. Appraisers: The ASA has informed SEAK that credits are available for non-live courses such as this. Attorneys: Credit availability and amount varies by state. Continuing legal education credits for attorneys will be applied for if requested in writing at the time of registration by emailing [email protected]Chiropractors: Credits are unfortunately not available. Engineers: Potentially up to 11.5 PDHs. The acceptance of this course is dependent upon your state(s) of registration. There is currently no quiz/test that must be passed in this course. Life Care Planners: SEAK will apply for credits through The Commission on Health Care Certification (CHCC) upon written request at the time of registration. The CHCC has informed SEAK that this stream on demand program will qualify for credits. Nurses: Contact hours are unfortunately not available. Physicians: SEAK, Inc. is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education to provide continuing medical education for physicians. SEAK, Inc. designates this enduring material activity for a maximum of 11.5 AMA PRA Category 1 Credit(s)™. Physicians should claim only the credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity. This enduring material activity was originally released on August 19, 2020. This enduring material activity was reviewed on July 21, 2023 and terminates on July 21, 2026. Psychologists: Credits are unfortunately not available. Note: If your specialty does not appear above and you desire credits, please contact Karen Cerbarano (781-826-4974 or [email protected]).

Course Curriculum

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Contact SEAK, Inc.: 508-457-1111 [email protected] PO Box 729 Falmouth, MA 02541 www.seak.com