Dan Baldwin 2013-12-27 11:46:38
“I appreciate the opportunity to utilize both my analytical and communication skills in expert witness situations. It is an interesting mix of gathering data, conducting research, analyzing the information, and then communicating my findings verbally and in writing,” says Brad Taft of Taft Vocational Experts LLC in Scottsdale. He is often called upon to conduct vocational evaluations to determine someone’s earning capabilities and opportunities for future employment. Depending on the type of litigation, the conclusions and opinions are used in such varied areas as determining spousal maintenance in divorce cases, mitigating damages in wrongful discharge and personal injury lawsuits, and determining workers’ compensation awards. Taft has more than 30 years of experience in different facets of the employment field, including vocational evaluation, recruitment, career development, career transition consulting and labor market analysis. In his expert witness work, he is called on to provide depositions or testimony in approximately 15 percent of the cases handled by his firm. He says, “I particularly enjoy cases that require me to research and learn about a vocation or industry in which I have not had a lot of exposure. That allows me to expand my body of knowledge and gain a greater understanding of the constantly changing world of employment.” While earning his master’s degree in business administration, Taft emphasized studies in organizational development and effectiveness and gained a great interest in workforce development and how companies match the talents of people with jobs in their organizations. He pursued a career in executive recruiting upon graduation. Six years later he joined a management consulting firm that provided outplacement services to companies going through organizational change. The work required that he consult with management about the changes to their workforce and provide career planning and job search training programs to employees who were being discharged. “I get a lot of satisfaction in supporting people in planning and implementing a transition to a new career opportunity,” he says. Taft was introduced to providing expert witness testimony more than 20 years ago when he testified in a couple of wrongful discharge cases. Although he enjoyed the experience, he was just starting his own outplacement consulting firm and did not have the time to pursue additional expert witness work. Three years ago an employment attorney urged Taft to return to the field. He discussed the opportunity extensively with several attorneys and with a career consultant who had a lot of experience as an expert witness. Taft says, “I immediately saw an opportunity to use the education, training and experience I have gained to provide opinions in lawsuits involving a variety of employment issues.” Taft says that the most challenging aspect of working as an expert witness in employment-related cases is keeping up with all the changes taking place in the labor market and understanding how those changes affect a person’s employ ability and earning capability. Many variables affect the workplace and the value of a person’s talents and experience, and an expert must gather information from a variety of sources, analyze what is relevant to the case, render conclusions and then communicate them effectively. “As an expert, I am in a position to present facts that may not initially be apparent and assist all involved in understanding their relevance to the case. I feel that is a very important aspect of the role of an expert witness,” he says. Outside of the work environment, Taft enjoys writing articles and speaking to organizations on a variety of employment and career issues. He has co-authored two books on career and workplace topics. Researching and preparing manuscripts and presentations helps him remain up-to-date on the constantly changing aspects of employment. “I am constantly working to improve my verbal communications skills, including being an active member of Toastmasters,” he says.
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