Can experts serve nationally, or are they limited to their own local? This is a question I’ve been asked numerous times by my credit expert witness students. The reality is that there are no geographic limitations to serving as an expert witness. In fact, in my 100+ cases I’ve only had two in Georgia where I’ve lived and worked for the past 21 years. Most of my work is actually in California, Texas, Florida and states in the Northeast.
Now, some folks have suggested that the cost of travel will be excessive if you have to fly someone in from out of state. That would be true if being an expert witness was a face-to-face job. To the contrary, the only time an expert witness has the pleasure of meeting his or her client in person is if they absolutely have to travel to their location to be deposed or if they have to testify at trial. In my world, the consumer credit expert witness, I’ve been inside a courtroom 7 times, which equates to about 6% of my cases. And almost all of my depositions are done via video or teleconference technologies. I even did one via Skype last year. Point being, deposition doesn’t have to equal travel costs.
Things like expert reports, document review, and declarations can all be done anywhere, anywhere at all. Plus, there’s the argument for hiring the right expert regardless of where he or she lives and works. If you retain someone who has limited experience or isn’t really as much of an expert as they suggest, but they’re local…is that really a better expert? I realize that’s a silly rhetorical question and the need to control costs is important. If you’re trying to decide between a local expert or an out of state expert with better credentials, simply negotiate the travel time rate. Don’t let be a deal breaker. You’d be surprised how reasonable expert are with respect to their rates and fees.
Credit Expert, John Ulzheimer, is the President of Consumer Education at SmartCredit.com, the credit blogger for Mint.com, and a Contributor for the National Foundation for Credit Counseling. He is an expert on credit reporting, credit scoring and identity theft. Formerly of FICO, Equifax and Credit.com, John is the only recognized credit expert who actually comes from the credit industry. John has served as an expert in over 100 cases, serving Plaintiff’s and defendants.