IT'S ALL FREE! Experts: 10 Things NOT to Write

I just finished reviewing the resume and postings of a legal nurse consultant expert for the opposition. I'm happy that she's an expert for the other side because she has written some things that put herself in a bad light. If you testify, help prepare experts for depositions or trials, or locate experts for attorneys, you need to know the 10 things that a testifying expert should NOT write on resumes, CVs, social media, or websites.

1) The expert whose resume I reviewed stated on her Facebook page that she helps attorneys win their cases. This implies a guarantee that the expert will do ANYTHING to help the attorney win, including fudging her expert opinion. How to fix it: Don't imply that you'll help attorneys win if you're an expert.

2) The expert has a blog on her website that defies description. It lists recipes for cupcakes, information about animal husbandry, a smattering of general health information, and commentary on celebrity trials. It's unclear what the things in the blog have to do with the nurse's area of expertise. How to fix it: If you're an expert, consider not having a website at all because some law firms won't hire you if you promote yourself through a website. If you choose to have a website, keep the information focused on your area of clinical expertise. Items such as new breakthroughs and news items are appropriate for blogs.

3) Her website lists that she has access to thousands of legal nurse consultants who testify about nursing issues. During her deposition, the opposing attorney will question the relevance of this information. How to fix it: If you're an independent LNC, you can keep the statement. If you're an expert, remove it.

4) This expert used a resume instead of a CV. Although the terms are used interchangeably, resumes and CVs are different. CVs are usually used by experts and contain a list of the expert's professional (clinical) experiences, education, awards and publications. This particular expert used a resume as if she was applying for a job. How to fix it: If you're an expert, use a CV format.

5) The expert listed the last 10 years of her experience although she graduated from nursing school 25 years ago. While it's common to abbreviate one's work experiences on resumes, the 15 years NOT on the resume will be the subject of great scrutiny by the opposing attorney during the expert's deposition. How to fix it: List your entire work history, starting from the date of graduation from your nursing school.

6) Instead of listing her job titles, the expert gave a synopsis of each of her positions during those 10 years. Again, this is common for resumes but not CVs which just list position titles. The synopsis will invite nitpicking by the opposing attorney in the deposition. How to fix it: List just your job titles on your CV without a description of what the job entailed.

7) The expert listed that she is a certified scuba diver trainer. While that qualification may make her a well-rounded person, it invites questions about how scuba diver training is applicable to the expert's opinion. She also listed classes that she taught about a controversial religious viewpoint. The viewpoint could be offensive to jury members. How to fix it: Don't identify non-clinical information such as hobbies or religious and political activities.

8) In addition, the expert identified the legal nurse consulting course that she attended. This will invite questions about why she attended the course, what was included in the course content, the cost, and how the course relates to the expert's clinical expertise. How to fix it: Don't identify your LNC course on your CV. For experts, attorneys are interested in your clinical expertise, not your legal expertise.

9) She also listed her course-based certification in legal nurse consulting. The expert can expect the opposing attorney to ask how the she earned the certification. If the certification is not consistent with certifications by the American Nurses Credentialing Center, the opposing attorney may question its authenticity. How to fix it: Consider withholding LNC credentials on your expert CV. Again, attorneys (and juries) are interested in your clinical expertise, not your legal expertise.

10) She identified that she has a certification in animal husbandry. This is another example of a non-nursing, non-clinical credential that doesn't enhance the expert's professional qualifications. How to fix it: If the certification isn't relevant to your clinical expertise, don't list it.

As I reviewed this LNC's resume, it was clear that she worked as an independent legal nurse consultant as well as an expert. In that case, she could have created two documents - a resume for her independent work and a CV for her expert work. If you locate experts for attorneys, review the experts' qualifications and cyber reputations to ensure that the experts' written information is acceptable.

...Katy Jones