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What Defines an Expert in Scientific Litigation Support?

What Defines an Expert in Scientific Litigation Support?

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To determine whether someone qualifies as an expert, we must first define the term. An expert is typically seen as knowledgeable and capable.. But what does that truly mean? 
Let me share a personal experience to illustrate this. When I purchased my first home, I needed to install a second water heater. Fortunately, my dad, a plumber with three decades of experience, was there to help. We made a quick trip to Home Depot, gathered the necessary materials, and installed the water heater effortlessly.

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A few months later, a friend encountered issues with their water heater. Confident in my newfound DIY skills and equipped with my tools, I offered to help. I had no trouble installing the water heater, drawing on my prior experience and my friend was satisfied to have saved some money.

The similarity between this scenario and the inquiries I receive from lawyers is striking. They often face tight deadlines, possess data, and require swift expert opinions. While the ability to perform the task may exist, the question remains: does this make one an expert?

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Consider the potential complications arising from my water heater installation.. What if there were plumbing issues or gas-related problems that went unnoticed? My friend might have faced even more significant challenges. In retrospect, perhaps hiring a professional plumber would have been the wiser choice..

Likewise, when you're dealing with analytical chemistry data, chemical fingerprinting, or assessing environmental chemistry and chemical fate and transport, it becomes evident that expertise should rest in the hands of those with comprehensive knowledge—the chemists.


True expertise is not merely being knowledgeable and capable; it's about mastering the subjects you work on. In a previous blog post, I explored the concept of knowledge mastery (you can read it here). Mastery is the result of years of real-world experience combined with the foundational knowledge acquired through formal education. In complex environmental projects, where multiple areas of expertise intersect, chemistry stands out as one of the fundamental pillars.

In conclusion, true expertise, especially in scientific litigation support, demands a mastery of knowledge. It necessitates not only the capability to perform tasks but also the depth of understanding that comes from years of practical experience and education. When dealing with intricate matters like environmental projects, chemistry remains an indispensable field of expertise..

This message comes from your local chemist society—a reminder of the significance of chemistry in our world.


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About the Author

Court Sandau

Court is the President and owner of Chemistry Matters – a niche environmental consulting firm which specializes in geoforensics, environmental forensics, biomonitoring, and arson investigations. As an international speaker and expert chemist, Court is often called upon to provide his expert services in oil & gas investigations and litigious chemistry issues.

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