Vanessa Van Voorhis Apr. 15, 2016, 6:37pm

SAN FRANCISCO – The Forensic Expert Witness Association (FEWA) will host its annual gathering on May 20 and 21 in San Francisco’s Financial District.

The event is open to attorneys, legal professionals, expert witnesses and those interested in becoming a professional expert witness.

“Instead of at a convention hotel, this year’s FEWA annual conference is being held at the San Francisco Bar Association’s Conference Center," FEWA Executive Director Kerry Parker told the Northern California Record. "This ideal proximity to attorneys affords greater opportunities to network with clients.” 

The annual conference provides a forum for attorneys to speak to expert witnesses regarding hot topics and best practices.

FEWA also invites attorneys to attend a course for which they will receive one hour of Continuing Legal Education (CLE) credit. Immediately following the course, there will be a wine and cocktail reception for attorneys and experts to meet and mingle in a relaxed setting conducive to networking.

“For attorneys, FEWA is a place to find experienced expert witnesses, at no cost, distinguished by our professional members who have at least three verified expert testimonies, in a broad variety of specialties,” Parker said.

FEWA promotes the education of expert witnesses that attorneys can use and provides attorneys with a resource of professional subject-matter experts with a diverse range of specializations, said Parker, adding that it is this combination of offerings to both members and attorneys that distinguishes FEWA as an organization.

For forensic expert witnesses, the conference offers workshops and speakers, as well as networking opportunities with attorneys, judges, arbitrators and trial consultants. Conference topics will include marketing, body language, deposition preparation, ethics, report writing, evidence handling, mock cross-examination training, and tolls for documentation and presentation.

For those interested in becoming a forensic consultant, the conference offers a half-day introductory workshop. Parker said based on inquiries from attorneys, the technical specialties in highest demand right now are accounting, banking, IT, construction, engineering, medical, health care, environment, legal, insurance, security and real estate.

Demand is also dependent on geographical areas and trends, she said. For example, accounting or finance-related experts might be higher demand in a large metropolitan city like Chicago compared to a construction or engineering expert who is in high demand in areas with booming growth like Houston and San Francisco.

The profile of the typical expert witness is also diverse, but generally they are actively working professionals.

"FEWA members are busy and rarely do we hear the word ‘retired’ mentioned," Parker said. "Some are actively working full-time in their specialty, while also serving as an expert witness. Some work in large firms where their role is to serve as an expert witness in a particular specialty. For others, it becomes a new career path – starting their own business – after years of working in an area of specialty."

The median hourly rate for an expert’s in-court testimony is $300, according to a 2014 report by SEAK Inc. The median minimum charge for experts was three hours for depositions and four hours for trials.

Course registration for the full two days starts at $699 and one-day registration is $399. The introductory workshop is $199.

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