How to Structure an Expert Report for Clarity and Organization
Clear thinking should lead to clear writing and focused opinions. If your thinking is muddled, your report and your testimony will probably sound that way. If you think clearly in your specialty, but have not had practice writing or testifying, brush up on those experience or take a class. Expert reports and presentations need to be well outlined and well written.
Organize and group the information you have amassed in such a way that you can show how you reached your opinion. For example:
* I used and observed this fact or these facts.
* I read this data.
* I researched this additional facts.
* I ran these tests.
* I acquired this from so-and-so.
* I relied on my own expertise, education, and expertise in the industry, along with my findings in the case to lead to the opinions that I’m expressing in this report.
Do not use technical jargon in front of a group of jurors, a judge, or a group of Lawyers. You are not talking to technical peers when you suggest up expert testimony. Demonstrate that you can translate the complexities of your experience and your discoveries into simple English.
First, you want to be understood. You do not want jurors rejecting your opinions because they could not know them, or because they could not understand your reasons for them. Second, you do not want to burden your attorney with having to take time in court to translate your information into plain English. Third, if you do it right, you will be more believable, more credible, and simply more likable, beyond being a respected expert.
Let’s not forget that we do sometimes forget… things. In complex cases, the process can easily take months or even years. It may be a year before you even write your expert report. You may not testify to the subject matter of your report for another year or two. It does not matter how bright you are; memories frequently fade. details fade even more quickly. You will not remember everything. Finally, just prior to a deposition or trial testimony, you will find that a simple rereading of your own report will refresh your memory before meetings or testimony.