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15 Cross-Examination Tips for Expert Witnesses

Executive Summary

Cross-examination is one of the most challenging aspects of being an Expert Witness. To be an effective Expert Witness, you will need to understand the objectives of the opposing counsel which are to diminish your credibility during your cross-examination and use your missteps to support their case. Remember, the opposing counsel will be listening to every word of your testimony.

A successful cross-examination requires utilization of several techniques to maintain your credibility, impartiality, and ideally bolster your opinion(s).

Here are a few of my favorite tips for maintaining credibility:

  1. Remember that it is not your job to win the case.

  2. Always be truthful because it is your legal and ethical obligation to do so.

  3. Answer questions accurately, without exaggeration.

  4. Ask for clarification, if needed, before responding.

  5. Act dignified and polite, and never argumentative.

  6. Never act as an advocate by showing signs of bias.

  7. Memorize the key facts of the case.

  8. Listen with extraordinary care to each question.

  9. Deliver your opinions in a simple, understandable, and truthful manner.

  10. Maintain strict control over your responses.

  11. Arrogance can damage your credibility.

  12. Staying humble and confident in your demeanor will bolster your credibility.

  13. Your opinions should be based on industry rules and standards of care.

  14. Limit your responses to only the scope of the underlying matter for which you were retained and do not elaborate outside of that scope unless asked upon.

  15. Prepare for your cross-examination by going through the anticipated questions you are likely to be asked.

The Author

Bob Lawson serves as the President and Chief Compliance Officer of Barrington Capital, Inc., a Registered Investment Advisory Firm, and Insurance Agency that he established in 1988. He is also the President of Barrington Financial Consulting Group, Inc., a securities, commodities, and insurance litigation consulting support firm. Mr. Lawson has nearly 40 years of experience in the financial services industry during which time he has served as a FINRA Registered Securities and Options Principal, Insurance Agency Principal and Producer, Registered Representative, Investment Adviser Representative, and Compliance Officer. As a Securities & Insurance Expert Witness and Litigation Support Consult, Mr. Lawson is retained as an unbiased Expert Witness and Consultant by both claimants and respondents for FINRA Arbitrations, mediations, and civil and criminal cases. Additionally, Mr. Lawson serves as a FINRA and NFA Arbitrator (Chair-Qualified) and FINRA Mediator.

Mr. Lawson holds the following credentials: Certified Securities Compliance Professional, (CSCP®), Certified Fraud Examiner, (CFE), Master Registered Financial Consultant (MRFC), Accredited Investment Fiduciary (AIF®), and Life Underwriter Training Council Fellow, (LUTCF®). He is the Chairman of the Master Registered Financial Consultant, division of International Association of Registered Financial Consultants, Practice Management Chair of the Securities Experts Roundtable, Membership Chair of the Minnesota State Bar ADR Section, member of the Chartered Financial Analyst - National and Twin Cities, MN Chapter, and Member of the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners – National and Twin Cities Chapter.

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Barrington Financial Consulting Group's President, Bob Lawson, was awarded the Certified Securities Compliance Professional (CSCP) designation. The CSCP designation is a graduate-level program for experienced financial services compliance professionals offered through the University of St. Thomas School of Law in St. Paul, MN in collaboration with the National Society of Compliance Professionals (NSCP). Upon successful completion of the academic course, Mr. Lawson was granted the CSCP designation for both Investment Advisers and Broker-Dealers.

The course focused on the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) financial services regulation and compliance with an emphasis regarding Investment Advisers and Broker Dealers.

The areas of compliance covered:

  • Risk Assessment and Risk Management

  • Developing, Monitoring, and Testing Policies, and Procedures

  • Ethics and Conflicts of Interests

  • Client Communication and Client Protection

  • Regulatory Risk Management

  • Regulatory Filings

  • Books and Records


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