5 Reasons Not to Use Expert Witness Referral Services

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5 Reasons Not to Use Expert Witness Referral Services

  • Posted on 27 Aug 2014
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courthouseWhen attorneys seek an expert witness for a litigation matter, it seems reasonable to use an outside company for recruiting an expert.  This arrangement presumably allows the attorneys to focus more on the matter at hand and spend less time recruiting experts.

There are two types of firms an attorney may approach: consulting firms or expert witness referral services.  They are not the same.  Consulting firms are engaged in the business of specific subject matter and generally have a staff of experts who work routinely together and whose skills complement one other.  Referral services do just that: refer.  After matching up an expert to an attorney, they collect a fee and walk away.

Here are 5 good reasons not to do business with expert witness referral services:

You Can Find Them Just as Easily Yourself

Most expert witness services cleverly market themselves as a cohesive group of carefully chosen experts.   Referring to themselves as “groups,” “panels,” or “round tables” conjure up images of hundreds of the world’s smartest people milling around a skyscraper on Park Avenue in New York, just waiting to be retained on the next high profile lawsuit.

The reality is that most experts working behind the façade of expert witness referral services are independent contractors, scattered about the country, not carefully chosen, not screened, and not working as part of any group.  In fact, most referral services find experts the same way that an attorney would: using a search engine, or on a free web site like experts.com.   Although it may seem like a time-saver, the actual benefit of sourcing out this process is questionable at best.

No Value Add

Expert witness referral services typically charge a markup on the expert’s hourly rate (often well in excess of 30% above the consultant’s fee) or charge a flat fee.  In either case, that extra monetary payout has zero impact on the quality of the expert and therefore zero impact on the outcome of the case.   Most attorneys would rather see their client’s money have an impact.  After all, they will have to work closely with the expert and their own reputation is on the line too.

The Best are Too Pricey

One consequence of the referral service’s price markup is that some of the best experts, who tend to charge more for their rare experience and specialized knowledge, are oftentimes too expensive for even premium buyers after the referral service’s exorbitant fees have been factored into the total consulting rate.  Why would anybody intentionally accept mediocrity?  It just doesn’t make sense.

The Expert Can Be Hired Cheaper Directly

Expert witness referral services will have attorneys believe that by doing business with them, they’re tapping into a secret, exclusive inventory of the world’s finest experts who can’t be found anywhere else.  Wrong.  The same expert witnesses that are available through referral services are almost always for hire independently and, most importantly, without the price markup.  This is yet another benefit of simply doing the search one’s self.

Locked into Future Markups

When a law firm retains an expert witness who performs well, firms often like to retain the same expert again for other future cases.  However, a common contractual practice among referral services is to require both the expert and the law firm to pay the referral service a fee not only for the present case, but for all future cases.  In other words, the attorney is locked into a price markup for using the same expert repeatedly, even if the attorney has a different client each time.  How fair is that arrangement for future clients?

Why Consulting Firms are Better

Consulting firms such as Prolifogy provide the market with direct access to subject matter experts.  These experts provide the knowledge and experience clients want, at a price that goes directly to the expert, not a recruiter.  Consulting firms don’t just sell a service.  They sell a reputation and a brand exemplified by consistent quality, internal staff synergies, and internal resources that referral services don’t provide.  They also train new experts, who learn how to do legal consulting work first hand from other experts.  Referral services don’t do this.

Prolifogy provides not only single experts in the field of software, but teams of experts who have proven themselves to work successfully in the past.  Such teams are trained in such areas as code review, forensic analysis, reverse engineering, claim charting, and many other facets of litigation.  Some referral services can provide teams too, but chances are the experts have never met before, let alone worked together, not to mention the premium that the law firm will pay for each and every expert on the team.  That can add up to thousands of dollars an hour in pure administrative overhead.

Prolifogy is headquartered in Danbury, CT and provides the services and knowledge of industry experts and Ph.D.s is computer science and related areas.  For more information on software expertise offered by Prolifogy and “direct from the source” pricing, call (888) 776-5436 or contact Prolifogy through the web.