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Women appointed or Testified as Sole Expert Witnesses in just 10% of Disputes Worldwide in 2022, New Survey from ERE Reveals
  • Sep 25, 2023
  • Latest Journal

Women were observed as appointed or testifying as sole expert witnesses in just 10% of cases requiring an expert during 2022, according to a new survey from Equal Representation for Expert Witnesses (ERE) conducted in collaboration with global consulting firm AlixPartners. Furthermore, 64% of lawyers had not seen any female expert testifiers or co-testifiers in that period.
The data, released around the first anniversary of the launch of the ERE Pledge, also showed that lawyers’ preference to “use experts they know or have used previously” was believed to be the biggest reason for fewer female than male expert witnesses being appointed, while “a lack of women reaching sufficiently senior levels in their own professions” and “a lack of experience in an expert witness role” also featured highly.
The survey drew on the experiences of more than 600 respondents from 32 countries worldwide, capturing the views of lawyers, expert witnesses, expert witness team members, litigation funders, and other corporate and legal professionals.
It also revealed a burgeoning pipeline of aspiring expert witnesses under the age of 40 – male and female in equal proportions – with 80% of respondents who have yet to provide oral expert evidence aspiring to do so in the future.
Of the female respondents who have been appointed as expert witnesses, 31% have been appointed more than 20 times, showing that, given the initial opportunity to break into an expert witness role, repeated appointments for these women are following.
However, despite this positive data, twice as many male expert witnesses had gone on to provide oral evidence or testify versus their female counterparts.
What can be done to increase the number of female expert witnesses?
When asked to consider the actions to increase the numbers of female expert witnesses rapidly and effectively, respondents highlighted the requirement for parties and external counsel to have gender diverse shortlists when selecting expert witnesses. Increased internal support in organisations employing female expert witnesses (or aspiring ones), and mentoring schemes for aspiring experts or young and new practitioners were also highly recommended.
Commenting on the survey findings, Kathryn  Britten, ERE Co-Founder and Partner & Managing Director at AlixPartners, said: “The numbers who completed the survey – and the huge amount of detailed feedback we have received from respondents – reflects the growing awareness of the need for change, and that expert witness matters should be integrated in gender diversity initiatives across corporate organisations and law firms alike.”
“I’m also encouraged to see from the data that there is a strong pipeline coming through amongst our cohort of younger respondents who have yet to provide oral evidence as an expert witness, and we need to ensure that support and opportunities are made available as freely and frequently as possible to coach and promote this next generation – both male and female.”
Isabel Kunsman, ERE Co-Founder and Partner & Managing Director at AlixPartners, added: “It’s disappointing not to see a higher percentage of female expert witnesses being appointed and taking the stand in 2022, but this only serves to highlight the challenge ahead of us, the need to drive change and, ultimately, the reason why we founded ERE.”

“The data from the survey shows that it is past time for the legal and consulting community to take proactive steps to right the gender imbalance in female expert witness appointments. Taking the ERE Pledge is just one step on that journey, but one that we would encourage everyone to do.”

In summary, the goals of the ERE Pledge are to:
•  increase, on an equal opportunity basis, the number of women appearing as experts, in order to achieve proportional representation and eventually full parity;

• support hiring, mentoring, and promotion of female experts;

• create a coalition of supporters and advocates in the world of dispute resolution;

• encourage women to aspire to be expert witnesses in their chosen professions;

• widen the pool of expert witnesses available and help to enhance the reputation of expert witnesses.

Download the full survey report.

Survey notes:
The Equal Representation for Expert Witnesses (ERE) survey was completed by 620 respondents from 32 countries globally between 18 April and 15 May 2023, capturing the views of lawyers, expert witnesses, expert witness team members and consultants, litigation funders, and other corporate and legal professionals.