Thursday, July 20, 2006

Experts Share Their Experience, Advice, and Best Practices

We love the feedback we receive from our readers on all subjects relevant to our readers. In fact, last year one discussion about engagement and billing practices (basically about getting paid!) created such a response we made a free special report out of the disagreements and feedback.

This proved to be so helpful to so many of our clients and readers that I have compiled some of the feedback we have received in the last six months, addressing many issues of concern to expert consultants to the legal industry.

*Editor's Note* Due to the unique nature of the work undertaken by expert consultants to the legal community, we go to great lengths to protect the confidentiality of our clients, readers, members, and associates. To that end, we have disguised the identities of the experts who contributed tales of their experiences, their heartfelt recommendations, and successful 'best practices' .


"I have run into a few [XYZ industry] experts who appear more or less with the 'red light of prostitution' over their heads. A few have falsified their credentials, which, in an endeavor that requires getting at the truth, is a huge non starter.

Most of the lawyers who have contacted me for services take the time to feel me out and learn about my background. That courting process is always interesting and it is important to be candid without over-selling oneself.

One lawyer was disappointingly overly dramatic on hearing my fee, which he declared indecent, although it is clearly in mid-range. Opposing counsel hired me through an associate so I got to work on the case anyway, which was settled out of court.

On advertising oneself as an expert, I think it's all about how you present yourself. About a third of my work has come through the website. I've had several law firms call me and compliment me on my credentials asking for a CV, but most of what I am currently working on has been through referrals from other law firms." - Technology Expert

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"We must always remember that it's the attorney who wags the tail...if they permit questionable 'experts' then they are equally to blame for misconduct. A reputable expert/professional will not buy into such practices." - Hospitality Expert

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"Thanks for the articles and discussion on retainers and up-front payment. Very good advice.

If I may, I'll mention that applying retainers to the last bill (instead of the first) requires some bookkeeping sophistication to avoid a cash crunch. Some newer/smaller practices may spend the retainer without knowing it, and then find themselves short when the case ends earlier than expected (i.e., settlement) and they are asked for a refund. This isn't a problem for careful operators, but the uninitiated can get hurt. 'Cash Reserve' should always be at least equal to 'Retainers Payable'." - Engineering Expert

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"A fascinating subject to me is, how does an attorney handle a deposition of an expert who flatly says his client is 'malingering'? I have read some of those depositions and it is interesting to see the techniques they use to discredit the expert. In one deposition against a fine expert who said flatly that the patient was malingering, the attorney attacked the translator and complained that the doctor got it all wrong because the doctor didn't speak the language! The doctor replied that the lawyer should be ashamed of being racially prejudiced." - Medical Expert

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"I have one additional suggestion on attire when going to see an attorney for the first time. I always ask how they dress in their office. I learned this the hard way when I traveled to the heart of Texas in mid-summer wearing a suit and tie, only to find that their dress code was business casual - golf shirts and cotton slacks. They had meant to tell me this, but overlooked doing so.

I have found that even big law firms in big cities like Chicago can be full-time business casual. And until one physically visits, it may be difficult to define just what they mean by 'business casual'. Further, the definition may change with the season (where they have seasons), and may differ for men and women. Ask first, and you will not be overdressed or underdressed.

If you are unsure, overdress." - Insurance Expert

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"The fact of the matter is that in [my industry] we have one or two who are known to be hired guns and are willing to say whatever the client wants them to say. Prostitution is a fact of life. As long as there are unethical lawyers we will have unethical "experts". The problem with shutting down either of them is the issue of who is to make the decision about who is the good guy and who the bad.

Bottom line: Each of us must take a good hard look at the face in the mirror each day and truthfully answer the question: Did I do the right thing yesterday?" - Transportation Expert

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It was from years of hearing questions about issues just like the ones commented on above that prompted Rosalie to write The Expert Witness Marketing Book and to eventually develop The Advanced Marketing Program for Expert Consultants

I hope you found some of these comments helpful. Please post you own comments about this (anonymously at your discretion).

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