Unfortunately this is not a lesson, but a query to attorneys and other experts who have unique skills that do not neatly fit into a search category like electrical fires, tire failures or drug interaction.
After more than 15 years of asking attorneys how they choose their experts, the most common response is that they use successful experts that have worked with them before. If they do not have someone in their Rolodex, they call colleagues for referrals. Third, they search referral sites by key words. Their last choice is to call a referral service that charges the attorney a fee.
Their methodology certainly makes sense. But what happens when litigators do not know to look beyond causes and origins experts, or some other traditional discipline?
I am listed in at least six expert referral services. I have only ever gotten referrals from one that charges me a 20% fee. Several have even created categories for my specialty but attorneys apparently do not hit that button from lack of knowledge of how I can help them.
My specialties are in products liability and organizational negligence. I am a quality control engineer by training. My background allows me to examine defendant companies, mostly from production, and scientifically determine adequate or inadequate standard of care. Instead of opining on the foreseeable risk of the defendant or on the event itself, I create reports and testimony comparing what I observed in the management and operation of the company versus accepted standards of quality, reliability and duty of care. My successful outcome rate is 96%.
I have worked with more than 700 companies over 40 years and can consult and testify almost any type of case that involves negligence in manufacturing, distribution or services. I have written 12 books on quality management, organizational excellence and my 11th book is Foreseeable Risk, should be a desk reference for every civil litigator.
Yet, how do attorneys find out about me and the unique value I bring to a case? How do they know to bring me in early on so that they can minimize the cost of other experts who may not have a positive return on investment?
Virtually all of my work comes from referrals from other eminent experts. The dichotomy of those referrals is that once I explain my approach and send them my complete CV, the case settles before I get hired! Some attorneys read my book and believe they can use my trademarked Forensic Business Pathology™ tools on their own. It would be flattering if my case history drove the opposition to settlement, but that theory is not one that promotes a robust and financially successful practice.
So I have two questions. First, litigators, how do you find out about new and unique approaches for consulting and testifying experts? In my experience, attorneys have an impenetrable wall set up for traditional marketing solicitations.
Second, for other experts with unique specialties, how do you make your value and track record known to the legal community?
In August, I conducted a CLE Webinar on Forensic Business Pathology™ for TASA . Click Here to View the Webinar.