After 18 months of study and analysis by a special task force—including a comprehensive member survey—the AICPA’s Financial Valuation Services (FVS) executive committee has just released its new study, “Another Voice: Financial Experts on Reducing Costs in Civil Litigation.” Working with the Institute for the Advancement of the American Legal System (IAALS) (University of Denver), the FVS study proposes five basic reforms to maximize the effectiveness and efficiency of financial experts in the pretrial process:
- Judges should manage cases early, actively, and consistently. Specifically, court continuances can drive up an expert’s case preparation costs by 11% to 25%, the majority of FVS survey respondents indicate.
- Clients and attorneys should involve experts early. One of the “major themes” to emerge from the FVS survey focuses on engaging the expert as early as possible in the litigation to reduce overall costs.
- Attorneys should streamline expert depositions and discovery. For example, although expert depositions are a “valuable tool” in litigation, say FVS respondents, just about half (44%) of their testimony and time are wasted on nonsubstantive questions.
- Daubert challenges should be timely and targeted. The use of Daubert-like challenges by attorneys can potentially reduce the time and total costs of cases involving financial experts, says the FVS study, but significant savings will only come with the implementation of all the recommended reforms.
- Attorneys and the court should encourage opposing experts to cooperate. The vast majority (71%) of FVS survey respondents believes that by allowing experts to talk with one another before the trial—and without attorneys—would decrease case preparation costs. A formalized system of expert collaboration is “vastly underutilized,” one respondent said.
“Although the expert voice is not typically heard in connection with reforming civil pretrial processes,” says the FVS task force, it hopes the new study will help “continue the conversation” with the bench, the bar, and rulemaking authorities.
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