An expert has proven experience in a specific area of masonry. Technically, this person is a consultant until questioned by all parties' attorneys and declared an expert witness by the judge. A competent expert witness could make it easier to settle an issue and prevent a lawsuit from dragging on for years.Most people find witnesses through recommendations from their lawyer, other masonry consultants or their peers. Other sources for construction expert witnesses include some Web sites and two publications: ASTM Directory of Scientific & Technical Consultants & Expert Witnesses (1997-1998) and West's Directory of Expert Witnesses. Check your expert's credentials thoroughly before engaging any services. A good expert witness should be credible, accurate and fair, professional, and calm when interrogated or goaded. Try to get someone who has a reputation as an authority on the subject from having written articles and books or given lectures on the topic. If the expert finds that you are responsible for the problem or failure, you can use that information to settle the case before it gets to court. If the expert finds that you are not responsible, have the expert prepare a written report. If you want to solve the problem rather than find the culprit, your expert also should suggest solutions and oversee the work. You should expect to pay an expert between $65 and $200 an hour. If you are trying to assess what went wrong in the construction of something new, the amount of liability the expert assumes is not that important. However, if the expert must diagnose the cause of a problem in an older building, it is best if he or she has some liability. When all the research has been done, your expert may give you an exact reason for the problem. Most likely, he or she may only be able to suggest the most probable cause.