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“Learn how engineering experts benefit from preparing and studying white papers”.

By John D. Gaskell, Retired Consulting Engineer

Author of “The Complete Guide to FORENSIC ENGINEERING”

Forensic engineering is defined by the National Academy of Forensic Engineers (NAFE) as “the application of the art and science of engineering in matters which are in, or may possibly relate to, the jurisprudence system, inclusive of alternative dispute resolution.” These engineers serve as consultants to the legal profession and as expert witnesses in courts of law.


To properly prepare your case, it is often necessary to research specialized areas of your field, such as those that may be new to you or you haven’t needed since college. While doing this studying, make notes in a narrative form to make it easier for you to write your expert report. In addition, these notes will help you prepare for your deposition and for trial as an expert. These papers prepare you for cross-examination questions on the specialized technical area at issue. They have the added advantage of preparing you for questions in the general technical area but not specific to this case. When your work involves a new technical issue, read about it and take detailed notes in narrative form, including definitions of the various new terms.

These are often called “white papers,” a compilation of your knowledge on a specific topic. It organizes your research for use not only on this case, but on future cases. If the source information is paraphrased, it could also be the basis for a magazine article authored by you. Reprints will help you earn a reputation as an expert in your field.

I didn’t learn about white papers until I was in practice for over 20 years. Start as soon as you have a job. After you have prepared a “white paper,” reread it several times, and commit much of the information to memory. When the subject comes up, you will be able to discuss it like an expert. Gain a reputation as the “smartest guy in the room.”

After I established my own engineering practice and began hiring employees, I wanted to standardize procedures for two reasons. Most importantly, this was so that my staff would provide the same standard of service that my clients had come to expect from me. Also, I realized that by sharing information we would become more efficient and, thus, more profitable. I organized this information, including white papers, and put it in a 3-ring binder that I called my Operations Manual. This information can now be more easily organized and updated with computers.

Litigation consulting is interesting, challenging, and profitable. If what is involved interests you, I recommend adding “Forensic Engineering” to your practice as a consulting engineer.

Get Jack’s new book: The “Complete Guide” to FORENSIC ENGINEERING to learn the details. Also, the largest chapter in his book: The “Complete Guide” to CONSULTING ENGINEERING covers the “highlights” of Forensic Engineering. Visit to find out more.