I Don't Need to Advertise, Do I?
To experts who say, “I do not need to advertise; I have all business I need,” I quote Confucius, “Dig well before you thirst.” In fact, one of most perilous times in a business is when business seems to have finally taken off, with a sufficient amount of work to be solvent and profitable. Murphy’s Law being immutable, after current business engagements are handled, business may dry up without warning and, seemingly, with no explanation.
In my many years of working with expert witnesses, even after pointing to tort reform or threat thereof, recession economies, and other vagaries, sometimes there seems to be no reasonable explanation for calls from attorneys having slowed or even stopped. The expert who has his name and credentials “out there” will suffer less in these times. Advertising will keep a stream of business coming in during slow times, especially if done in conjunction with networking and other forms of marketing.
Some experts are understandably wary of advertising. I see forensic advertising that I consider objectionable, advertising that a skilled attorney could use to impeach an expert witness. On other hand, fact that one advertises is not in itself objectionable. Advertising is not basis of being viewed as a “hired gun.” That results, instead, from prostituting of oneself by shaping facts and opinions rendered to produce a desired conclusion.
If you are concerned about how you will look when answering questions about advertising your expert services, remember that attorney cross-examining you is probably listed in local, state, and national bar association publications; Martindale-Hubbell®; local, state, and national legal magazines and newspapers; Yellow Pages; and his child’s athletic booster directory, as was judge when he practiced law as an attorney! Do not take questioning personally. Your responses to questions, rather than questions themselves, will determine jurors’ and even judges’ attitude toward you. You should practice maintaining your poise and articulating prepared responses to purposely emotion-loaded questions.
Many successful experts tell me they let questions about their advertising “bother them all way to bank.” They feel that questions regarding advertising comprise only one of many issues on cross-examination list, and they answer them simply and truthfully.
My advice is to keep your advertising professional, conservative, and in good taste. You should also read “how-to” expert witness books and attend expert witness conferences and workshops in order to learn techniques for handling cross-examination questions in deposition and in court. After all, opposing attorney has an obligation to ask every question that might even remotely discredit you to jury. Sometimes this process takes form of asking benign questions or questions with benign answers, but in phraseology or a tone of voice that attempts to evoke an emotional response from you. Giving a matter-of-fact answer, using a normal tone of voice in a poised manner of speaking, will defuse such questions.