Are you seeking a female forensic accountant or fraud investigator to be an expert witness in your case? Do you think a woman on the team might be helpful if your case goes to a jury trial? Are you looking for diversity that may appeal to a wide range of jurors? Does it really matter?
I don’t care much about the gender of my clients, and most of my clients don’t seem to care much about my gender. Almost all of my work comes from attorneys (on behalf of their individual or corporate clients), and most often I am dealing with someone at the partner level. Because of this, my clients are overwhelmingly male.
I have found I that my clients (male and female alike) look past my gender and focus instead on my work. They are most concerned with finding an expert witness with good credentials, experience, and testimony skills. They don’t care much about my gender, only that I have a job to do and that I will do it well.
Similarly, it doesn’t matter to my whether the lawyers I work with are men or women. So long as they are respectful, honest, and straightforward, I will work with them regardless of gender.
However, there are times when I am contacted by a potential client who is specifically looking for a female to provide forensic accounting services. I usually hear one of two reasons for seeking a woman to be an expert witness:
- The attorney (or the client) would like to diversify the litigation team. Sometimes people think a female expert witness may be received more positively by a jury, or that the female may give the team a more diverse look which may be viewed more favorably by the judge and jury. I think this concern may be valid, but I don’t know if retaining a female expert witness is effective at achieving the goal of counsel or the client.
- A female client says she is more comfortable working with a female expert. I have seen this happen most often in divorce and child support cases. The client feels betrayed by her spouse or ex-boyfriend, and has trust issues with men. Sometimes she may be more at ease with a woman on her side.
At the end of the day, I don’t care if a client is retaining me because I’m a woman. I have a job to do, and a client would not hire me for a case unless he or she thought I was qualified to do the work and render an expert opinion. If they are happier because I’m a woman, then so be it. I am most concerned with providing an exceptional work product, regardless of the reasons a client chose me.