Unimpeachable Real Estate Experts

Posted by William Lightner, Esq. on Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Forming and Maintaining Successful Attorney/Expert Relationships

Like any marriage, the attorney/expert relationship requires attention —even a little counseling from time to time. Some issues seem to cause the most trouble: matchmaking, communication, money, scheduling, and adapting to changing circumstances.


Attorneys want experts who are both highly credentialed and terrific teachers. They need bias-free authorities who can deal with surprises and accommodate mercurial schedules. Finding persuasive technical experts with these virtues isn’t easy. The Internet offers huge directories but not much in the way of quality control. Expert providers help bridge this information gap by searching for, prescreening, and arranging interviews with qualified experts. The trick is finding a provider with enough knowledge of the subject matter to do a good job vetting candidates. It helps if the provider has a legal background as well as subject matter knowledge.

Experts also like to work with decent, thoughtful, and conscientious people. They crave lawyers who love what they do and show curiosity about the subject at hand. To meet their desire for excellence, experts hope their attorneys will be sensitive to time lines. As the old real estate maxim goes, “time is of the essence,” and experts can be forced toward mediocrity when discovery documents are delivered late in the game. Competence, clarity, honesty, and, yes, fair business practices are also every bit as important from their point of view.


Attorney/expert relationships sometimes benefit from a bit of third-party counseling. An impatient attorney’s advocacy can intimidate experts and derail an objective analysis. Good experts will deliver nothing but defensible opinions and will therefore resist any attempt to take them down an untenable analytical trail. An intermediary who understands the lingo of both expert and attorney can help keep the relationship on track — and get to the best result.

Adherence to outmoded ways of doing business can lead to trouble as well. When loads of documents need to be read, it is burdensome for both attorneys and experts to print, deliver, review, and discard boxcars of paper. Here, technology can be extremely useful. For instance, cloud computing solutions allow files of any size to be securely reviewed by mobile users. Technology is also useful in coordinating the schedules of multiple experts. Some expert providers even offer free calendaring systems.

Experts can help attorneys in ways many haven’t considered. In addition to analyzing facts and educating judges and juries during the litigation process, they often help contestants settle matters out of court. Subject matter experts can uncover underlying issues and help each side consider workable alternatives. Thus informed, contestants are often liberated from unsupportable contentions to explore new options. And when resolutions are found, experts can help draft settlement agreements that prevent problems down the line.

Expert Providers can help make good attorney/expert matches and help maintain happy relationships.

*Courtesy of William Lightner, Esq., Opine Experts Lightner, a veteran real estate operator, California-licensed attorney and real estate broker, is co-founder of Opine Experts [www.Opinexperts.com], a San Francisco–based firm providing members of the California Bar with authoritative real estate experts covering all aspects of property ownership, development, and management — including bricks-and-mortar, financial, transactional, landlord-tenant, operational, environmental, and regulatory matters.

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