Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Debate on Sequestering Expert Witnesses

You are probably aware of the occasional but rarely used practice of sequestering jury members (it happens more in the movies than in real life). But the recent alleged actions of attorney Carla J. Martin in the terrorism trial of Zacarias Moussaoui have sparked a debate on the possible sequestration of expert witnesses in future trials.

Martin is accused of improperly contacting several aviation safety experts in violation of standard practices and of Judge Brinkema's order for witnesses not to follow court proceedings or discuss them with each other until all had testified. The entire trial of Moussaoui is now in question.

In response to calls for expert witness sequestration, Peter Nordberg of is skeptical of the idea because:

"... any benefit from sequestration is considerably diluted, at least in federal court, by the requirement, in both civil and criminal proceedings, that any expert testimony be disclosed in advance of trial..."

His comments prompted quite an interesting debate on his Blog 702 - scroll down to the March 16th post to read his original comments and the resulting responses.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Rethinking 'Networking'

Everyone has heard of the benefits of networking and what a key factor it can be in getting referrals and growing your business. But it can be so much more! When done correctly, networking is really relationship building. Meeting someone, keeping in touch, getting to know them and letting them learn about you, and assisting one another when the situation warrants.

Rather than taking a single-purpose approach to networking, think of it as a chance to get to know more about your prospects and the legal community, a chance to be of assistance to others, and the opportunity to learn ways you could be a better expert.

If you hit it off with an attorney or a key staff member in the firm's office while on a case, in a social setting, at a conference, etc., cultivate that relationship. At a later date, when you are both comfortable, ask him what he looks for in experts, how he finds and chooses experts, and get him to share his best and worst experiences with experts.

Networking/relationship building doesn't always have to result in referrals or new business to be considered successful. The information you can glean from contacts within your pool of potential clients can help you reach your prospects effectively, in the language and format that matters to them and helps them the most. The end result is the enhancement of your image and reputation as an expert that understands what is needed and knows how to deliver. And that, my friends, is marketing you just can't buy.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

How Valuable Is Your Time?

"How valuable is your time?" I am increasingly asking clients (and myself) this question when deciding where resources - time and money - could best be spent.

If you bill at $300 an hour, does it make sense for you to spend 45 minutes on hold with your Internet provider to find out why your email isn't working? Or, could you hire a local college student for $10 an hour to either fix the problem or sit on hold for 45 minutes?

I think, in effort to save a dollar, sometimes we end up spending much more than that in terms of our time and its value.