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Assessing Expert Knowledge

To assist a judge or jury in deciding a case, an expert must have extensive knowledge, training, or experience in the field in which he or she will testify. If the issue involves analyzing the actions of a licensed professional, for example, at the very least the testifying expert should be licensed in the same area. The expert's level of experience should match or exceed that of the professional whose conduct is at issue. In the business resumption planning field, for example, one item to look for is Certified Business Continuity Professional (CBCP) certification, available from the Disaster Recovery Institute.

It's also important to look at where and how the professional has excelled in his industry. How long has he been involved in the business? Has he published any relevant books or trade articles? Where has he practiced? What kind of employment record does he have? To which professional organizations does he belong? (For the business resumption planning field, look for organizations such as the Association of Contingency Planners.)

As an example of the level of expertise you need to seek, consider the following statement of qualifications that Leo presented in an actual case in which he served as an expert witness in a telecommunications dispute.

Introduction to Direct Testimony of Leo A. Wrobel, Jr.


A: My name is Leo A. Wrobel, Jr.


A: I am the President and CEO of TelLAWCom Labs Inc.


A: I have over thirty years' experience in the telecommunication industry. I hold degrees in Telecommunications Systems Technology and Electronics Systems Technology from Los Angeles City College (1977, 1978) as well as a degree in Business and Public Policy from the University of Texas at Dallas (1983). My employment history began with nine years of special services experience for the U.S. Air Force and for AT&T Long Lines. After AT&T, I accepted a position with Dallas-based Lomas & Nettleton Information Services, then the largest mortgage banker in the world, as Manager, Network Planning and Engineering. There I was responsible for the first microwave bypass shot in Dallas to a financial organization, and was also the first in Dallas to run T1 telephone traffic over the public cable television system (1985, Warner Amex). At one time or another I managed all three telecom departments for Lomas, which included Data, Voice, and Network Engineering with staffs from 12-25. In 1986, I formed Premiere Network Services, Inc. to provide specialized telecommunications disaster recovery services to Fortune customers and Texas state agencies. I was a pioneer in carrier co-location, since Premiere was the first company in the United States to locate a computer disaster recovery company in a central office.

Over the years, I expanded my professional practice to include consulting and seminars on telecommunications. I am the author of twelve books, beginning in 1990 with Disaster Recovery Planning for Telecommunications (Artech House Books) and including other titles such as Understanding Emerging Network Services, Pricing and Regulation (Artech House Books, 1995), which I coauthored with Mr. Eddie Pope, former Chief of Staff to Chairman Robert Gee of the Texas P.U.C. I also authored The MIS and LAN Managers Guide to Advanced Telecommunications (IEEE Press, 1999). My most recent work is Business Resumption Planning, Second Edition (Taylor Publishing Inc., 2008). I have published over 600 trade articles for a list of telecommunications, cable, and other publications too numerous to mention.

I have conducted telecommunications seminars on Emerging Broadband, Telecommunication Policy, and other topics for over 30,000 attendees in the previous twenty years. I have spoken at such noteworthy forums as the ICA SuperCom conference, ACUTA, CCMI McGraw Hill, IAEM, ACP, and many others. I have appeared on television news programs as an expert on telecommunications policy and technology, including KLRU Austin's Austin @ Issue program. I have lectured on telecommunications and disaster recovery overseas as well, in such places as Tel Aviv, Israel and Santiago, Chile. In 1993, I conducted a special assignment with Texas Instruments, which resulted in the largest SONET/ATM network ever installed in Texas (Texas PUC Docket 7757). This assignment involved a three-way partnership with Texas Instruments, GTE, and Southwestern Bell Telephone Company (SWBT), with significant participation by the Public Utility Commission of Texas.

I'm a member of the Independent Telephone Pioneers of America and an IEEE member. In addition to my technical and professional achievements, I was elected as a City Councilman (City of Ovilla, Texas) from 1987-1995 and Mayor from 1995-1997. During these ten years as a public servant, I approved and negotiated franchise agreements with all the major utilities including gas, cable, and electric; negotiated two new telephone exchanges for the City; and established the City's first full-time police force. I also computerized City Hall, oversaw the operations of the City's water services franchise, and was even responsible under the charter of this General Law City to act as municipal judge in the absence of the City's normal magistrate. I chose not to run again in 1997, having accomplished my goals and feeling that 10 years of public service was a good round number. Finally, last year I expanded my Disaster Recovery Planning practice, and I also serve as CEO for a second firm, Dallas-based b4Ci Inc.


A: The purpose of my testimony is to demonstrate that XXX has engaged in at best improper conduct and at worse outright fraud with regard to its data gathering, tracking, and reporting practices. My testimony is designed to reinforce the complaint already filed and to prove that the Complainants could not have known about these issues even with the exercise of reasonable due care and attention.

Get the idea? By virtue of 30 years in the business, the expert witness in this case had accomplishments to showcase and was credible as far as knowledge was concerned.

It's not sufficient for an expert merely to say that she has the proper training and experience. She must prove her expertise with hard evidence[md]by showing educational degrees, licenses, work history, membership in professional organizations, accomplishments, published articles in trade journals, and/or awards or recognition by others in and out of the field. If the expert cannot back up her declared expertise, she may be barred by the judge from testifying.

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