Should You Be Using an Expert Witness Referral Service?

Registering with a referral service is a valid marketing avenue for the expert just starting a litigation support practice. This is also a good choice for an experienced expert who has a narrow, or esoteric, field. An attorney is more likely to use a referral service for an unusual specialty than he is for a more common one. In addition, a referral service is a marketing and administrative option for a physician wishing to do Independent Medical
Evaluations. Referral services are also called brokers, referral agencies or consulting agencies.

Referral services charge the attorney, the expert or both. (Professional membership organizations of experts, such as accountants and engineers, sometimes refer attorneys to their members free of charge).

Commercial referral services promote their service to attorneys, who contact them when they need experts. The service then calls an expert who is registered with them or, if they do not have that particular kind of expert, attempts to locate one.

When a law firm engages you through certain referral services, any future work you do for that law firm may be under contract with the referral service for a specified period. This is a matter of consideration due to the significant value of repeat and referral work. Nonetheless, registering with a referral service is a way to get work, usually at no cost to you.

The referral service, or agency, should have a large number of experts registered. Find out how many. If the agency is a shell, having few or no experts registered, and only searches for an expert when an attorney calls, you do not want your name and resume to be the decoy. An exception is the search firm which promotes itself as such. Ask how the agency’s services are promoted to attorneys. Many of the effective ones advertise extensively in legal publications. If attorneys do not know about the agency, registering with that agency will not be beneficial to you. A few of the services are also now showing up often in keyword searches on the Internet.

There are valid reasons for some experts to use a referral service. As with all sources of business, choose carefully, ask a lot of questions, particularly about financial arrangements, and check references.

— Excerpted from The Expert Witness Marketing Book
by Rosalie Hamilton

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