Attorneys can be so overwhelmed with the practice of law that they lack time for the practice of business. Between consultations, research, writing, court time, hour-logging, etc., there is little or no time to number-crunch for the highest profit. Many large firms have in-house accountants to mind the books but, even then, the traditional practice of law can hinder a firm’s profitability. The perfect example exists in the Expert Witness arena. The legal industry has a tendency toward the old adage, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” This is all well and good if, indeed, “it ain’t broke,” but the Expert Witness industry has changed drastically over the last 15 years.
Prior to the computer age, when information was hard to come by, the best way to procure an Expert was through a Broker. Broker’s compiled lists of Expert Witnesses and Curriculum Vitae otherwise unknown to attorneys. The Brokers would then, and still do, charge attorneys a fee to retain those Experts. The cost is usually a 30%-60% mark-up over the Experts’ hourly rates. Though some Brokers offer a brief vetting of Experts, it is not worth the severe mark-up and attorneys are still required to do their own due diligence.
Today, with information readily available on the internet, there is no need for a Broker’s services. Established and well-respected website Directories have made public and free what was once private and costly. The very same Expert Witnesses are marketing their services with these online Directories and negotiating their own terms with no middle-man. According to Expert Witnesses, the most common dissatisfaction with Broker referral services is their ineffective means of collecting from their law firm clients. With the Experts in control, getting paid is getting easier.
The Expert Witnesses have it figured out. Why attorneys would pay exorbitant amounts for what they could get free of charge is baffling. It’s time for law firms to focus on the bottom line, fix what’s broken, and save thousands of dollars annually. Nothing else makes good business sense.