An expert witness recently emailed me with the following question about billing:
"I have been an expert in many cases over the last 10 years, but it is usually a small portion of my annual revenue . . . In the last three years the opportunities have increased, [leading to a few basic questions].My recommendation: Yes, you bill for that time and yes you disclose your policy in the engagement agreement you have your attorney-client sign prior to beginning work. You are giving up billable hours you cannot get back and should be compensated for that time. I would also urge you to set your retainer high enough to cover a half-day of testimony at a minimum.
Is it customary to bill clients for the days committed to for trial dates when the trial is subsequently cancelled, settled or postponed?
If the dates are locked on my calendar, I do not schedule my regular consulting business events, but at times they cancel only a few weeks or less before the scheduled trial. This causes issues with revenue of course as I typically schedule events in my business 6 to 8 weeks in advance.
I normally do get a retainer, so I do have the money, but have refunded clients in the past. What do the attorneys expect? What do other experts do? Do I disclose this policy at the time of engagement?"
Okay experts - what are your thoughts? How do you handle this situation? Have you received any backlash?