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.

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