A Bundle of Blogs: How to manage the cost of civil litigation involving experts

The following blogs – and good reference material in some - will help you manage the cost of civil litigation involving experts.  Careful management is necessary because most cases are small or medium sized not big - ”less affluent, not affluent” to reflect comment by The Advocates Society, Ontario. (Ref. 1)  Yet lawyers must still prepare before going to trial (Ref. 2) and experts must investigate before giving an opinion - regardless the size of the case.  Proper preparation and investigation can be expensive.

These blogs describe things you can do to keep tabs on costs.  Some ideas echo the principles followed in the well-developed field of project management.  Several suggestions, like the following, stood out as I reviewed my postings of the past five years:

  • Retain an expert early
  • Retain one according to your needs – by one count, 10 different ways
  • Confer with s/he often
  • Work together to identify the key technical issues that must be investigated

There are a number of helpful suggestions in the following list in addition to the bulleted ones above.  The chronological list also gives some idea of how my insight has developed over the years.

The list of blogs gives the title in bold and the date I posted it so it’ll be easy to locate on this site, the one you’re on - www.ericjorden.com/blog   I’ve reviewed each recently and added a comment on some of the ways each posting can help you - read my comments if nothing else:  There’s something for everyone in the following list.

  1. “Technical” visual site assessments: Valuable, low cost, forensic method.  Posted September 4, 2012 … A good read on the cost effectiveness of a simple visual assessment by an expert of the scene of a failure or accident.  Have this done before detailed investigation is begun - ideally when you assess the merit of the case and the worth of the file.  It’ll save money.  The blog includes examples from my practice, some of which show the value of this inexpensive method before an advocate actually decides to take a case.  I know of one case that such an assessment would have saved the luckless client many 1,000s of dollars (I was retained late in the case to peer review the forensic investigation).
  2. Steps in the forensic engineering investigative process with an Appendix on costs.  Posted July 15, 2013 … A detailed outline of the tasks in forensic work with brief comment on the difficulty estimating cost taken from a previous blog.  A must-read for non-technical people who must confer with experts.
  3. Difficulty estimating the cost of forensic engineering investigation.  Posted July 23, 2013 … Another must-read.  Examples taken from my files illustrate the difficulty.
  4. (Fairly easy) Estimating the investigative cost of a catastrophic engineering failure.  Posted August 13, 2013 … The pictures of this failure are amazing!  Also my concluding remark considering the magnitude of the failure shown in the pictures: “So, estimating the cost of investigating the cause of a catastrophic failure is not always difficult.  And, if you don’t mind, estimating the cost of investigating a simple failure is not always easy.” 
  5. Managing the cost of civil litigation.  Posted September 19, 2013 … Outlines a detailed, stepped process for managing costs.  Based on principles from the well-developed field of project management.  The process is characterized by frequent updates on cost-to-date and estimated cost-to-complete, for both legal and expert involvement in a case.
  6. How to manage the cost of civil litigation.  Posted October 4, 2013 … A good read with lots of ideas.  An update of a previous blog that expanded the section, “Why must cost be managed?”  Contains a list of helpful references.
  7. Reducing the cost of forensic investigation – it’s being done now by default not by plan.  Posted September 14, 2014.  You may see your actions reflected in this blog.  An insightful read.
  8. Why the difficulty estimating the cost of forensic engineering investigation?  Posted September 1, 2013 … A must read.  A good, detailed review of what engineering experts are up against when attempting to estimate the cost of the different tasks in a forensic engineering investigation.
  9. “If you measure it you can manage it” – and do thorough forensic engineering and cost effective civil litigation.  Posted June 18, 2015 … A real good, short read and helpful in cost management.
  10. “Expensive” experts are not so expensive compared to the cost of key technical issues going undetected.  Posted December 8, 2015 … Contains good advice from noted and respected authorities in the legal profession.  Also lessons learned from a few cases I’m familiar with.
  11. Peer review costs can be controlled.  Posted January 22, 2016 … A good read on managing the cost of civil litigation costs by how you retain an expert.  See at least 10 ways if you count retaining an expert at the case merit-assessment stage or as a testifying expert.
  12. Cost control in civil litigation.  Posted September 8, 2016 … Some blunt comment on managing costs in a suggestion to APTLA (the Atlantic Provinces Trial Lawyers’ Association) to hold a conference or include a session on managing the costs of civil litigation involving experts)
  13. Keynote speaker on cost control in civil litigation.  Posted September 22, 2016 … A follow up suggestion to APTLA on how to organize a conference on cost management of civil litigation involving experts that would include keynote speakers from both the legal and expert communities.
  14. Managing the cost of civil litigation when experts are involved.  Posted March 19, 2017 … Explains a low cost method of doing this - basically, counsel and expert meeting very early in the case and talking about the technical issues.  If possible, investigating one or two technical issues certainly results in less expensive civil litigation than investigating several.  Examples from my files of cases that went well, and one case – not so much.
  15. Conference call on a “drone flight” reduces the cost of civil litigation.  Posted May 18, 2017. (Also see a blog posted March 31, 2017) … I’m getting a lot of cost effective evidence with unusual investigative techniques.  For example, with aerial video and photography from a low flying drone.  Also learning the source of water at a slip and fall accident site by taking a cold shower at the site.  And measuring the skid resistance of a floor with a piece of pig’s belly.  Advocates and experts must be receptive to non-textbook tricks in the interest of managing the cost of civil litigation.
  16. “A rose by any other name…”; Primers for lawyers.  Posted December 19. 2016 … An insightful blog inspired by a lawyer’s comment at an APTLA conference last November. (Ref. 2)  He was right on the money.  A lawyer must prepare before going into court and an expert must investigate before giving an opinion – and this can be expensive.  A good blog on a client’s need to know.
  17. An expert’s fees and forensic engineering.  Posted July 5, 2016 … An indication of the average hourly billing rates for professional engineers in the Atlantic provinces for different levels of experience and responsibility.  Rates not too much different than lawyer’s fees.  Knowing these helps in managing the cost of civil litigation.

 References

  1. The Advocates Society, Toronto, Ontario, Principles governing advocates communicating with testifying experts, June, 2014.  Posted June 11, 2015
  2. Pizzo, Ron, Pink Larkin, and his comment “…lot of preparation beforehand – a lawyer just doesn’t walk into court”.  APTLA conference, It’s all wrongful: Death, Dismissal, Conviction & More, Halifax, November 4, 2016

 

 

Drone video as a forensic technique is joined by drone photography as an art form

I enjoyed learning recently about the annual international drone photography contest.  The contest was mentioned in the papers and, of course, I learned more by Googling.  I liked what I read and saw.

The contest recognizes that drone photography is more than fun indulged in by hobbyists with $300 drones and more than a surveillance technique used by the RCMP with $30,000 gear.  It’s an art form, and on the list with its use as a valuable forensic engineering technique using a $10,000 drone fitted with a camera.

The winning and runner-up photographs in the contest are impressive - you must go online and see if there is an artistic bent to your nature at all.  Impressed is the way I felt too when I first saw drone video of one of my forensic sites.

The contest photographs are submitted in four categories: Nature, People, Urban and Creativity by drone photographers from everywhere in the world.  Profiles of the professional and amateur photographers are included on the contest site.

The photographs are judged by a panel of experts that include representatives from National Geographic in France and the US, and from Kodak.  Both companies are two of several high profile sponsors of the annual competition.  This year, 2017, is the fourth year the contest has been held.

Such quality in photography and high profile in contest sponsorship is telling about the future of this photographic technique.  It echoes the increasing success I’m having in my forensic investigations getting evidence with a drone and presenting it to my earthbound clients.

Credits

  1. Some of the content in this blog has been taken from the drone contest website and also a conversation with Robert G. Guertin, Millenium Film & Video Productions, Dartmouth, NS, Canada.