The Architect as a Consultant/Expert Witness
David A. Conner, Ph.D., P.E.
Architects working as a consultant and/or expert witness in the legal environment must function as an educator, evaluator, and investigator in a manner that appropriately supports the distinct needs of the client/employer. (And, client/employer requirements will differ depending upon whether the client/employer is the plaintiff, the defense, or the court itself.) Beginning as a consultant and/or expert witness requires (1) a knowledge of both the law regulating the practice of engineering and the Canons of Practice and (2) the development of a) a detailed resume that includes pertinent credentials; b) a fee schedule, billing philosophy, and a mechanism for billing if serving as a consultant; c) a philosophy on note taking; and d) a philosophy on how files will be maintained.
When a case is
acquired, the consultant/expert witness must
(1) establish a
procedure with the client/employer for the filing of reports;
(2) review case documents (i.e. the complaint, charges, interrogatories and interrogatory responses, depositions, reports, and pictures);
(3) review all applicable codes, regulations, and standards; and
(4) examine all evidence related to the case.
Testimony in the form of a deposition provides the consultant/expert witness with a unique opportunity to offer professional opinions related to the case in the absence of a judge and jury - hence an ability to "partially control" the proceedings. Testimony before a jury requires that the consultant/expert witness display the best characteristics of a professional thespian.
This course is
(1) the architect interested in becoming a consultant and/or expert witness for the legal profession,
(2) the architect just getting started as a consultant/expert witness for the legal profession, and
(3) the architect in industry assigned, as a company employee, to assist company attorneys in litigation.
This course includes a multiple choice quiz at the end, which is designed to enhance the understanding of the course materials.
At the conclusion of this course, the student should be able to accomplish the following actions:
In this course you need to study the following five Course Modules, which are in PDF format.
#1: The Consultant/Expert Witness
This module addresses (1) the functions of the consultant and/or expert witness, (2) the activities that must be accomplished when working for the plaintiff vs. when working for the defense, (3) the start-up activities as a technical consultant and/or expert witness, (4) contract and fee issues, (5) the steps to take when a case is acquired, (6) some issues of concern when investigating an incident, (7) some general comments, and (8) some questions related to this module.
Module #2: A "Big Picture" of the Legal System from the Viewpoint of the Consultant/Expert Witness
This module summarizes the legal system to enable the consultant/expert witness to understand the process that leads to a trial, the steps involved in trying a case before a judge or jury, the ways in which the consultant/expert witness can assist their employer-attorney, and the types of interactions with opposing attorneys that the expert witness can anticipate as the case progresses.
Module #3: Testimony by the Expert Witness
This modules provides guidance for testimony as an expert witness.
Module #4: The Experiences of Others
This module presents the experiences and opinions of other consultants/expert witnesses and the writer's critique of these experiences and opinions. Three references are cited and reviewed. The writer has found each reference to have been extremely helpful. The reader may desire to obtain a personal copy of each reference.
Module #5: Case Study
This module includes a case study and practical questions related to the case.
Once you finish studying the above course content you need to take a quiz to obtain the PDH credits.