Private investigators and law firms are stirring over the recent Law.com article, Private Investigators Go In-House At Law Firms, a discussion of the practice of some law offices hiring staff investigators, mostly former federal government law enforcement agents. The attorneys interviewed site cost savings to their clients as a motivation, but also the increased quality of the overall product “because they will work closely with the firm’s attorneys on litigation and have a better handle on the information that’s needed.” That’s a key tip for all investigators, whether we’re working in-house or on a contract. There are a few thoughts I try to keep in mind.
– Often the attorney doesn’t know that there’s a unmined wealth of information in their own files, which should be culled before launching your investigation.
– Communicate frequently and in detail with your client. A regular exchange of findings can advance the case. Verbal discussions are essential because many times the attorney doesn’t thoroughly read our written reports; she may have breaking news that needs to be conveyed. Make it convenient for her by calling often.
Don’t paper your attorney to cover shortfalls in your findings. Explain the work you did and the obstacles -including legal barriers to obtaining some types of data. You might also consider marketing a more specific investigative specialty rather than presenting a list of a dozen types of work you can do. Investigators take pride in our talents as generalists but you may get more of the type of work you want if you define it more particularly. Various clients will speak of me as the “Internet researcher” or “the PI who can find anyone.” These tags are more tailored to the client’s immediate need.
Nader Anise, an attorney marketer has some other suggestions of ways the private investigator can work with law firms that are employing PIs.