As the impacts of climate change become more apparent, various parties are using litigation to push lawmakers to address mitigation and adaptation strategies, and attempt to hold fossil fuel producers liable for climate-related damage. As such cases progress and multiply, there will be an increasing demand for climate scientists and scientists with relevant training to serve as expert witnesses to assist judges and juries in understanding the science underlying these arguments.
These developments present an exciting opportunity for climate scientists to participate in the legal process. However, it is important for a scientist considering serving as an expert witness to understand what the process involves.
This guide helps scientists know what to expect when serving as an expert witness. To learn more about the risks of participating, and how to mitigate them, see the second guide in this series: “What to Expect When You’re an Expert Witness, Part II: Risks and How to Avoid Common Pitfalls.”
The information contained in this guide concerns U.S. laws only and does not constitute specific legal advice. If you have legal questions regarding a particular circumstance, please call your lawyer or contact us directly for a free legal consultation by emailing email@example.com or using our web form.
Check out our complete list of reports and publications for more resources designed to educate the scientific community about the legal system, their rights, and their responsibilities.
Scientists who are considering getting involved as an expert in climate litigation should also connect with the UCS Science Hub for Climate Litigation, as well as the multiple resources developed by Columbia Law School’s Sabin Center for Climate Change Law available here, which includes the Climate Attribution Database.