Expert witness directory search firms and consultant locators: Should you use them? It’s a fine question to ask. When attorneys require authoritative testimony to bolster their legal strategy, the initial sourcing and vetting of highly qualified consultants can be a pivotal first step. Some law firms opt for use of expert witness directory networks and the seemingly simple solution of paying to access the listings on locator services and referral databases. But convenience comes at a premium price that firms should carefully evaluate against more cost-effective alternatives for identifying and engaging expert partners.

The main drawback of relying on such companies is their steep brokerage fees, typically baked into an hourly rate markup of 25-50% or more on the expert’s standard pricing. A expert witness directory’s “middleman” fees get tacked onto every single invoice over the course of an engagement, substantially inflating overall consultation costs compared to hiring the expert directly.

For example, if an expert’s standard hourly rate is $500, a 33% markup through a directory could balloon that to $665 per hour. For a case requiring 100 hours of the expert’s time over several months, that equates to over $16,000 in unnecessary directory fees paid – funds that could have gone directly to the law firm’s client had the expert been independently sourced.

And these escalating costs only compound for complex commercial litigation matters involving multiple testifying experts, increasing overall price tags by tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars due to the intermediary fee percentages.

Aside from pure cost considerations, expert witness directory services have limited ability to screen for the best-fitting expert on major factors like specific case expertise, substantive knowledge command, and compelling courtroom presence. Their incentive is simply moving volume through their system.

Conversely, when firms facilitate their own expert sourcing process, they maintain full control over curating an optimally tailored team, verifying crucial capabilities firsthand, and establishing direct, uncomplicated billing. Leveraging professional networks, public databases, tailored researcher support and other tactics allow firms to access the same high-caliber expertise without the profit-driven markup.

While expert witness directory referral networks offer convenient one-stop shopping for knowledgeable consultants, the fiscal argument against their service fees creates a compelling reason for firms to bring this critical vetting function inhouse. Investing the time upfront to conduct more discerning expert searches enables substantial cost savings over the long run.