How to stop the ‘hired gun’ question before it kills credibility

Litigation experts know what’s coming when they hear opposing counsel ask: “So … just how many times have you been hired by Mr. (or Ms.) Attorney?” Or worse—“Isn’t it true that you are his ‘go-to’ expert?”

The attorney is trying to paint the expert as a “hired gun,” of course—but the next time that happens, try this response: “I’ve worked on cases against the same attorney, too. Shall I tell you about them?”  The aggressive line of questioning “immediately stops,” says Neil Beaton (Grant Thornton), who frequently speaks on litigation tactics (most recently at the AICPA’s National BV Conference in Las Vegas). Since it’s so important to maintain a reputation of neutrality and credibility, Beaton suggests that expert business appraisers don’t let the same law firm or attorney repeatedly (or exclusively) retain them. “You don’t want to be a hired gun,” he said, even in smaller communities in which attorneys may not have as many choices among available experts. Even so, watch out for relationships with attorneys that get too close. “So—how many times have you had dinner at Attorney X’s house?” can be a killer question, so try to keep your professional relationships as neutral as possible, too.