I have never accepted an offer to be an expert witness for a legal case, but I am always flattered to be asked. I usually turn down requests because I hear the squeak of a saw going through the limb I am standing on. Recently my friend the FireCritic reminded me of my general advice around being an expert witness. Several of the people that are part of the EPS411.com education and training team have been asked to be expert witnesses. The most common question they ask me is “how much should I charge for being an expert witness.” This is my calculation for determining your hourly rate for expert witness testimony:
Step 1: Determine your hourly consulting rate. Remember you will be responsible for paying taxes and any unrecoverable expenses out of this like your cell phone and email bill which you undoubtedly use for the project.
Step 2: Multiple the rate you determined in Step 1 by at least 2 or 3.
Step 3: With a straight face and 100% confidence that your offer will be accepted clearly state the rate per hour plus expenses you calculated in Step 2.
Step 4: After your offer is accepted, first let go of any regret that you did not ask for more and second explain that your rate is based on a minimum number of hours (I suggest four hours) paid up front. Remaining hours will be billed in 1/10th hours and invoiced at the end of each week net 15 days.
Step 5: Don’t accept cash. This is not TV.
1. I am not a lawyer.
2. I have never accepted an expert witness offer, but I am willing to listen to future offers.
3. If the rate you calculated in step 2 is less than $250/hour you are not an expert witness.
4. If you are not mildly embarrassed by the rate calculated in step 2 you are not likely to be a humble expert witness.
5. If you are not an expert in the field requested it is still fun to do the calculation.
If you have a better or different formula share it with me in the comments area? Also is my minimum ($250/hour) too low? What should the minimum be?