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
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
Mr. Lightner is an attorney and real estate entrepreneur with wide-ranging experience. He consults on fair business practices involving the treatment of real estate investors by their investment sponsors. He manages Opine, recruits experts and tracks down experts in the most arcane aspects of California real estate.
Opine's unprecedented collection of California real estate authorities is available to journalists as well as its clientele of attorneys, insurance companies, real estate agents, investors, developers and property managers.