Friday, October 23, 2009

Expert Witness Retainers

An expert emailed me a question about requiring fees up-front, scheduling and travel. I thought you might find our exchange interesting.

Expert's Question:
I charge a non-refundable deposit when an attorney gives me a trial date and asks me to commit to this. (I don't charge them until they ask me to make travel plans). I have been charging a full day fee since I often have to re-arrange my clinical schedule and even give up shifts to travel.

I recently had a trial that I was committed to go to be postponed and I hadn't received the deposit yet (I had worked with this firm before and trusted them).

How do other experts charge for this? Do most charge a fee before committing to travel? Non-refundable? How much?

I am wondering now if I should charge a scheduling fee, perhaps 50% of the required amount for a trial that is non-refundable. I want to be fair to the attorney since they can't control when a trial is postponed.
My Reply:

You should NOT empty your waiting room, re-arrange appointments, etc., to schedule deposition or courtroom time UNTIL you receive a check for the full,
estimated time. Then, if they postpone or cancel, you can refund money on a sliding scale (see Fee Schedule and related info in The Expert Witnessing Marketing Book) based on how easy/difficult it is and based on the date of postponement/cancellation, how easy is it is for you to restore your local work schedule.

I hear this over and over, and experts should not experience loss of income due to dates being moved by the courts and the attorneys.

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