Who Said Expert Witnesses Shouldn’t Advertise?
In response to one of our recent emails to Expert News readers, we received an email saying, “I thought experts are not supposed to advertise, even through websites.”
I think you might find our dialogue of interest. I have edited the communication for length and confidentiality.
My emailed reply was:
XXX, I don’t know where such an idea could have come from. I’ve only heard it from a couple of defense attorneys who of course don’t want experts making themselves available for plaintiff lawyers as well as for defense (defense – including insurance – attorneys have no trouble finding experts; plaintiff attorneys have more difficulty, thus look for experts’ advertising, as well as in other ways). Doctors and lawyers advertise; churches advertise; and so does every other product and service we use — advertising is a fact of life.
What experts need to be aware of is that their advertising, including their website, and their written articles, spoken presentations, and all other expression and utterances are available for scrutiny and potential criticism, so all of it needs to be professional and even conservative. An example of this caution would be to state on your website your areas of expertise and the services you perform for attorneys and the Court but not to state that you can help one side win or make other promises that bring your objectivity into question.
I hope this is helpful to you.
The expert responded:
Thanks for writing. Medical legal experts, either nurse or physician, apparently are not supposed to advertise because then they look like a hired gun, with most of their income coming from expert work. That’s just what I’ve heard many times in the XX years that I have been a [medical professional] from the attorneys I have worked with. I am always asked at a depo also if I advertise/market my expert services, do I have a website, etc. That’s why I don’t have a website. Your ideas are very interesting
My second reply was:
Attorneys in deposition or cross-examination will of course ask you about advertising, because that is one of about 40 questions they have listed on a ruled pad that they hope will cause you to gulp or be embarrassed, or will make you look bad to the jury (by the way, the jury doesn’t care). There is nothing inherently wrong with advertising; furthermore it does not indicate that most of the expert’s income comes from expert work. My physician clients, all of whom advertise, are full-time doctors; there is no way they make more money from their part-time medical-legal consultation than from their practice.
(Note: I do have clients who do not advertise, though they market their services in other ways. This is not meant as a recommendation for all expert consultants to advertise, but instead to clear up misunderstandings about the issue of experts advertising.)
The mind game you can play, should you choose to advertise your services, is to focus on the realization that the attorney who is questioning you is advertising on the Internet and in the Yellow Pages, the state bar association publication, the local bar association publication, sometimes the newspaper or television, his child’s soccer booster directory and, some, even on the side of a City bus! So, even though you should not be combative with the attorney, the thought in your head, while he is asking you about advertising as though it is nasty, can ALMOST make you smile. <grin>