Expert witness search firms and locator director company providers are an interesting case study in the legal and consulting space. When law firms require knowledgeable expert witnesses to strengthen their case strategy, some turn to specialized and knowledgeable expert witness search firms or referral services to identify and engage these consultants. But also keep in mind that certain industry observes suggest that there are several potential downsides to working through third-party vendors that firms should carefully consider and weigh against alternative sourcing methods.

Lack of Personalized Vetting and Fit Assessment – Locator directory companies typically rely on databases of CVs and market themselves as one-stop shops for quick and easy expert hiring. But resumes alone provide little insight into an expert’s substantive expertise, specific case knowledge, critical thinking abilities, skill on the witness stand, or overall suitability for the particular matter at hand. Firms lose the ability to thoroughly vet and interview candidates themselves.

Potential Quality Control Issues – Since expert witness search firms are incentivized to refer as many consultants as possible across various cases, quality standards can sometimes fall by the wayside. There is a risk of being provided underqualified or ill-prepared experts if the company does not implement rigorous screening measures. Law firms have less control over consultant quality.

Inflated Costs and Middleman Fees – Search companies generate revenue by marking up expert hourly rates to pad their own brokerage fees. This results in experts costing substantially more than if directly retained by the firm. Paying a 30-50% premium to the middleman vendor can quickly increase consultation costs.

Conflicts of Interest – With vast expert listings in their database systems, locator directory companies often unknowingly circulate the same witnesses across multiple firms and cases involving the same parties, subject matter, or industry. That potentially raises ethical quandaries over potential conflicts of interest.

Lack of Prior Relationship and Coaching  – An advantage of hiring expert witness search firms that lawyers have worked with before is the pre-existing relationship, whereby expert preparers at the firm understand the consultant’s strengths, viewpoints and can strategically guide their role. But experts that companies have haphazardly pulled together for a matter are relatively unknown commodities lacking that cohesive working dynamic.

While expert witness search firms and locator directory companies present a seemingly quick and easy solution, the tradeoffs of reduced personalization, quality control concerns, inflated costs, conflict risks and absence of established expert relationships could present hiccups. Many law firms prefer conducting their own tailored searches leveraging professional networks, public databases, and personalized evaluations to find optimally suited expert partners for each unique case strategy.