Thursday, June 05, 2008

Contracts, Retainers - Getting Paid by Attorneys

We have had many discussions with our newsletter readers about 'getting paid' by their attorney clients. Rosalie addressed this most recently in "Expert Question on Being Retained". One issue she addresses is the signatures on the expert's engagement agreement. I received the following email in response to her advice in that article:

"Your message is right on point. I was recently engaged by a criminal lawyer to help defend a client against a DUI and manslaughter charge. The lawyer sent me a $2,000 retainer and a signed contract, but I carelessly ignored the signature on the contract as it was signed by the mother of the defendant instead of the lawyer.

As a result of my testimony, in a jury trial, I was able to help the defendant get free of the manslaughter charge which could have meant 10 years in jail. However, the lawyer for the defendant still owes me a large amount of money for my expert witness work and that lawyer has ignored payment on my invoices. I will probably end up taking him to small claims court.

In summary, I will carefully review, not only my wording in future retainer contracts, but also the signed signatures, by the other side, on the contract."

This not getting paid is too common a problem for expert witnesses!

What Would You Ask an Attorney?

If you could speak frankly with your attorney clients or prospects, what would you ask them? In the next few weeks I will be interviewing several attorneys about their thoughts, experiences, advice, etc., regarding expert witnesses and consultants. What would you ask? Please leave me your suggestions in the comments (you can post anonymously).