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Litigation Support Work?


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Like many of you guys, I am thinking about ways to diversify and bring home a little more bacon. In the last week alone, I have been brought in to assist on two construction defect/ litigation support issues. That may be a fluke, but both attorneys involved hinted strongly at the likelihood of more work if I was interested. With 25 years of custom homebuilding experience in addition to my HI work it would seem to be a good fit for me. I have done a little of this in the past, but it wasn't business I exactly sought out. However, given what I see as the generally declining quality of new construction, I can easily see that more of this type of work could be coming. Someone will make some money off of it. I figure it might as well be me!

I don't know how to price out my services. How many of you do this, and how do you charge? Per hour with a minimum? Do you bill for travel time if it's within your city? I'm not asking for your hourly rates or other private info, just advice as to how to structure my fee schedule. However, if you do want to share what you know to be typical rates in your area I would appreciate it. Obviously, I realize that will vary by market.

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Kevin,

Are you talking about litigation support work or expert witness work? They require different skill sets and likely you would be better at one than the other.

EW work comes to you after you establish yourself. Support work can be offered or "sold" as a service. Of course you can't be an expert in everything, so you have to know yourself and your skill set(s).

It is fun work, but not quite as easy as most people think. I do mostly EW work and get paid very well. I charge per 1/4 hour and keep very detailed time records. This morning I talked to an atty for 20 minutes about a structure I looked at on Fri pm for 30 minutes. Travel time was 40 minutes and draft report was 1 1/2hr for a total of 3hrs. When she calls back this afternoon and confirms some data, it will be another 1/4hr. We actually write down the exact minute they call and the exact minute they hang-up.

The whole process is very well defined and you have to learn what role you play. I have helped several people along the path to this type work, but none have been really sucessful. It requires a particular personality and a very thick skin.

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Thanks, Les--

I was thinking more in terms of litigation support, at least to start out with. From what little I have read, the court has to declare you to be an expert witness. I assumed that it would start as lit. support and possibly evolve into EW work. I suspect I'd enjoy the field work/research end of it more than any time spent in court. That could change, however, as I got more used to it.

Why does one have to have thick skin? To be able to stand an attorney grilling you?

What type of personality do you think best fits this line of work?

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Originally posted by AHI in AR

Thanks, Les--

I was thinking more in terms of litigation support, at least to start out with. From what little I have read, the court has to declare you to be an expert witness. I assumed that it would start as lit. support and possibly evolve into EW work. I suspect I'd enjoy the field work/research end of it more than any time spent in court. That could change, however, as I got more used to it.

Why does one have to have thick skin? To be able to stand an attorney grilling you?

What type of personality do you think best fits this line of work?

Les has more experience at this than I do. I entered into the litigation support back in 1998 with the start of the EIFS lawsuits. I then moved into EW work in about 2002, working for attorneys defending home inspectors and at times working for the plaintiff against home inspectors. You need to show a balance so that you are not considered to be a "hired gun".

As for the thick skin? You can't wear your feelings on your sleeve. You have to let the punches roll off and come back with a smile and ready for the next round. Even if you are 100% correct it is the job of the opposing council to make you look like a fool and discredit your findings. You must maintain control and keep calm.

When you get into EW work you need to be able to have the credentials to show that you know what you are talking about and that you are an "Expert" in the subject. I only offer expert services on water intrusion, home inspections, and EIFS/Stucco.

With litigation support I offer pretty much everything that has to do with light construction. If I have the need to bring in a specialist or an Expert in an area I can do it. In the litigation support area you can help the attorney to coordinate the experts, and even to review their findings to see if anything that might be in conflict with another expert pops up.

Also with litigation support your work is not discoverable, but as an Expert Witness all of your work is discoverable. In other words the other side gets to have a copy of every thing the Expert reports on or takes a picture of.

As for fees, I charge by the hour or any part of an hour. For depositions and court time I charge by the half day or any part of a half day. So if the opposing council wants to depose me at 11 AM, I'm paid for the half of a day till Noon or lunch and then the clock starts back at 1 PM. They will end up paying me for the entire day. My time is just as valuable as their time, if not more.

I do have two types of fees one for on site, office work and another fee for depositions and court time. Depositions and court work is about $50 and hour more.

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I don't go lookin' for it, but I've done a fair amount of EW work. "Litigation support" has always led to being called upon as the expert witness. I welcome it as a regular break from climbing and crawling. I'm the type that really enjoys depo's and cross-exams. They're fun, like a cerebral tennis match.

We charge different rates for on-site, document prep & research, depo's and court/arbitration, each with a minimum. Kevin, send me a PM with your e-mail if you would like to see our consultant/EW agreement, that includes our fees and retainer.

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