Becoming an expert witness offers a unique, low-cost business venture that utilizes the knowledge you already have. Solicitors hire expert witnesses to testify in court about a variety of niche topics. If your area of expertise is in high demand, and your knowledge is thorough, you can make very high fees as an expert witness, as much as $400 per hour or more. Launching a successful expert witness business requires conducting market research beforehand and developing a marketing plan once you open your doors.
What Is an Expert Witness?
Expert witnesses work on a contract basis for solicitors. The solicitor hires the expert witness to provide court testimony, or draft reports to be used in court, about specific topics pertinent to the case. A chiropractor might testify in a personal injury auto accident case explaining how he or she can determine if whiplash is definitively the cause of a back injury. A solicitor might hire a gun expert to provide a report for a murder trial about the unreliability of certain forensic tests conducted on firearms. There are many knowledge realms that could potentially be of use to solicitors. By conducting market research, you can determine if you possess one of these areas of expertise.
Conducting Market Research
While an expert witness business offers the perfect opportunity for the right person, it occupies a tight niche and requires the right level of market demand to succeed. This means your area of expertise has to be needed by solicitors. You could know everything there is to know about Olympic weightlifting, but how often is such knowledge relevant in a court case? Probably not often, but your market research lets you know for sure. You can conduct this research by contacting the most well-known solicitors in your area and asking about their use of expert witnesses. Mention your specific area of expertise, and ask if they foresee a need for your knowledge arising. If the answer is no, and you are still determined to become an expert witness, you might consider studying and becoming an expert on a topic that features greater demand.
Marketing Your Business
Once you determine your area of knowledge is in demand, it’s time to get your name out there and market yourself as an expert witness. There are a couple of things to keep in mind during the process. First, this isn’t the kind of business where it’s smart for newcomers to undercut established competitors on price. When you charge substantially less per hour than the competition, solicitors don’t view you as a money-saving opportunity; they view you with skepticism. When trying a big case, solicitors want the best expert witnesses possible, and they’re willing to pay for them. Saving $100 per hour is meaningless if a lackluster expert witness causes them to lose the case. Also keep in mind that equally important to your knowledge is the ability to convey that knowledge with confidence and clarity. This skill needs to come through in your marketing calls to solicitors. If you have a lot of book knowledge on an important topic but public speaking isn’t your forte, your primary goal when starting your expert witness business should be to sharpen this skill. An expert witness business can turn the knowledge you already have into a lucrative business. You can begin researching to find out if your area of knowledge is in high demand.