There is no doubt that the Expert Witness Broker Model is lucrative. For the longest time, it was the fallback model for the rolodex and word of mouth referrals. Indeed, the impetus for starting Experts.com was the lack of an alternative to this fallback model. The founder of Experts.com, Nabil E. Zumout, Esq., started the company out of sheer frustration with a broker that his firm relied on for years. It was the broker’s inability to find a specific Mortgage Practices Expert and failure to communicate promptly that drove Mr. Zumout to search other sources, including the Internet. What he found was immediate, direct contact with highly knowledgeable experts.
In this day and age, it is difficult to imagine a world without the Internet. Fifteen years ago, however, the information available on the Internet was scattered and accessibility was limited. As Information became more accessible, the need to have someone broker access to it diminished drastically. Given that Experts can publish their expertise on the Internet and make it accessible to those who seek it, the more relevant question is whether the Broker Model provides an added value for attorneys that Directories do not? If so, what is that added value truly worth?
The answer, in most cases, is no they do not. Any value added early on in the engagement and selection process does not merit the 30% mark-up in fees that is tacked on to every hour billed after the selection and engagement of the expert is completed. How can you justify a $30,000 commission on $100,000 in Expert Witness fees, especially if you could have found the same Expert for free?
The reason that the Broker Model continues to be successful is that attorneys are slow to change and have not yet been educated as to the benefits of the Directory. It is our job to make them aware, but it is becoming much easier with the new generation of computer-savvy, financially-conscious, Internet-connected generation of attorneys and paralegals in the market.
Many Expert Witnesses and Consultants can be found in both venues. When a lawyer knows he can find the same highly-experienced Expert in a Directory as with a Broker, why would he ever pay for the Broker’s services? We cannot speak for all Directories, but at Experts.com, when asked to search for an Expert, we, like Brokers, screen Profiles and CVs. But, as with Brokers, this is cursory and it always falls to the attorney to do his due diligence in qualifying an Expert. Anything less would be malpractice. Again, what is the value the Broker offers that the Directory does not?
From the Expert’s perspective, joining a Broker seems like a no-brainer. For no charge to the Expert, the Broker will gladly add his CV to its bank of CVs on file. When the Broker receives a request from an attorney, he can select a few for the case even though many may qualify. Regardless of the criteria the Broker uses to select the Experts, the Experts are not involved in the selection process. The Broker model does not allow all of the qualified Experts to put their best foot forward for each case, negotiate their own fees or even have contact with the attorney until the investigation stage. The true cost for the Expert is lack of control when it is most important.
These are troubled economic times and it simply does not make sense to pay for something that can be had for free. What we offer attorneys at Experts.com is an efficient, effective and economical way to locate Expert Witnesses and Consultants. What we offer Experts is an efficient, effective and economical way to market and broker their own expertise.