Thursday, July 26, 2007

Expert to Expert Advice Request

As I have said before, so many experts express frustration about encountering situations in the legal industry that they have no experience with in their own field and thus no guidelines. You, our readers, have been very generous in sharing your experiences and best practices with other experts, so on behalf of an expert who contacted me last week, I ask for your assistance.

Here is the question:

If an expert talks to one side in a case and, having heard some details about the case and perhaps done a bit of research, decides that in fact she cannot support that side's position...but she could support the opposition's it unethical or otherwise looked ill-upon if that expert then accepts work for the opposing counsel on the very same (or other similar) case?”

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Getting Paid for Your Work - Know the Local Statutes

As you may know, we have had an ongoing discussion about experts getting paid. How do you make sure you are paid? Should you require a retainer? If you aren't paid, should you sue the attorney? Can you refuse to hand over your expert report unless you are paid? Can you/should you require payment for services rendered prior to participating in a deposition or testifying in court?

In a recent email on this subject, an expert in California wrote, “I found out a few years ago that here in California, the attorney requesting the deposition is not required to pay the expert a week before or even an hour before!”

This was new to me, so I checked with Jim Robinson, an attorney in California and president of JurisPro Expert Witness Directory. He emailed me back with the applicable section from the California Code of Civil Procedure 2034.450, which says:

a) The party taking the deposition of an expert witness shall either accompany the service of the deposition notice with a tender of the expert's fee based on the anticipated length of the deposition, or tender that fee at the commencement of the deposition.

b) The expert's fee shall be delivered to the attorney for the party designating the expert.

c) If the deposition of the expert takes longer than anticipated, the party giving notice of the deposition shall pay the balance of the expert's fee within five days of receipt of an itemized statement from the expert.

The requirements for payment vary from state to state. As such, it is important for you to investigate and understand the applicable standards and laws in each state for which you might be called upon as an expert. It is also wise to double check any information you may hear from fellow experts, or even attorneys, regarding payment for your consulting and testimony.

Just as your CV,business cards and stationery, and website are key to establishing a successful expert practice, so are your engagement agreement, billing practices and collection policies. The more you know, the more you can do to protect your practice and successfully promote your expertise.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Expert Witness Directory Time

July is the month when several expert witness print directories are published. My sister-in-law, Lisa, frequently checks our clients' listings and ads in both online and print directories and publications, and sent me some thoughts about the errors and omissions she frequently finds.

She suggests you check your online listings on a periodic basis (your information could have changed and need to be updated, or the computer gremlins could have attacked!), and examine your listings and/or ads in the print directories and publications as soon as they are published. If an error occurred on the part of the publication, you might be able to get all or part of your money back or negotiate for an extended run (with corrections of course).

Lisa recommends that you check for completeness (she often finds suite numbers missing), accuracy, and logic - did you include as many ways as possible for a prospect to reach you? If you have a website, did you include the address? Is your area of expertise clearly stated (in the terms an attorney would use to find you)?

If the publication lists experts by categories, are you listed in the categories you specified? Are you, heaven forbid, listed in any that you shouldn't be?

This is the time to check. I cringe when experts lose out on potential business due to minor typos and similar mistakes.

Monday, July 09, 2007

How Attorneys Vet Experts and Other Info

In their June newsletter, IMS Expert Services published an article by attorney Robert Ambrogi on How to Vet an Expert. He lists some valuable resources that you can use to check out the opposing expert or, even better, investigate yourself using the links he provides and see what information attorneys are reading about you.

One thread in the Rominger forum for expert witnesses has a couple of interesting "war stories" from experts. Hopefully you haven't insulted the judge as one expert thought he had!

Everyone who uses a computer and accesses the Internet or uses a network faces an increasing number of threats. Preston Galla of PC World has a list of 15 great, free security programs that will help you fight back.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Is Anybody Out There?

Am I the only one working? I've gotten more "Out of Office" automatic email responses and voice mail answers today than I've ever had. Heck, even the spammers seem to be on vacation.

If you are working (or pretending to) and experiencing the same thing, this might be an ideal time to evaluate your business development efforts.

If you are listed in any online directories, look at your listing with fresh eyes. Is everything accurate? Has anything changed or is there something that should be added or deleted? How effective has that particular listing been in producing inquiries?

How long has it been since you reviewed your website and marketing materials - are they current and accurate? Is your CV up to date?

When was the last time you sent out a mailing to your contact list? Remember, it doesn't have to be a big deal, a simple postcard will do - you just want to stay on your prospects' radar screens.

But, business aside, don't forget to take a few minutes to enjoy the fireworks, a cookout, and time with family and friends. Have a great July 4th!