Knowing how to find the right legal investigator is as important as your case is to your client. In other words, it’s imperative that the investigator you find is the right investigator and has the right experience.
The situation is this: Your client is charged with robbery and assault. A significant prison term is on the table and your case hinges on finding a critical alibi witness. What’s the first step you take?
The most important choice any attorney makes on a case-by-case basis is whether to hire a legal investigator. To maximize proactive results, this choice must be implemented from the get-go. If you have to ask if you need an investigator you already have your answer. The window of prime opportunity is at inception. Top-drawer professional investigators, in order to do their best work, must be involved from the very beginning.
To choose wisely, start by asking yourself about the benefits of utilizing a legal investigator. Do you really have the time required to do the necessary research and follow-up on the leads to strengthen your client’s case? A competent legal investigator, trained in the interrogation of uncooperative witnesses, observes body-language and other non-verbal kinesics to detect deception. Are you confident in your own ability to do this?
Once your decision is made to work with an investigator, how do you know which one to choose?
About 98% of the time, attorneys ask colleagues for recommendations. While it is generally a good practice to get a referral before contracting for such complex and discreet service, the Internet can greatly assist you in doing some critical digging.
Investigators, like attorneys, provide specialized services. Is the case you are working on civil, criminal or a matter of family law? Fraud, wrongful death, elder abuse, computer crime, stalking or pedophilia; surveillance, jury selection, insurance claims, workers compensation or asset search: When seeking legal investigative services, check credentials and ask about specialties.
If you don’t already have an investigator in mind, start your internet search using keywords specific to your needs and location. For example, “divorce investigator”, ” crime scene investigator” or “military investigator.” Then use each investigator’s website to check out certifications, experience, philosophy, expertise, and results.
To narrow the field, look through your local Chamber of Commerce and Better Business Bureau (BBB) listings. Though many investigators are not members of such groups, those who tend to take their professional reputation very seriously, striving to maintain unimpeachable integrity, and you should feel much more comfortable if the firm you are considering has joined.
When you meet with a potential investigative agency, ask pointed questions: Do they have the equipment and technology necessary to perform the investigative service you need? For example, if your need is surveillance, do they have specialized low-light-digital camera equipment or will they rely on taking snapshots with a cellphone?
Also, ask if the firm has conducted investigations similar to what you need to be done, then listen to the questions the investigator asks about your case. Does he or she take the time to learn the details of your client’s situation? And when you are given a quote for services, does it seem based on sufficient experience to authoritatively express how to achieve success?
In summary, ask pertinent questions, look for direct, responsive and informative answers and, above all else, educate yourself about legal investigative services. One excellent way to do this is through Continuing Legal Education (CLE) workshops.
Here at UCMJ Investigations, we are an accredited member of the BBB and we offer several CLE approved courses of training in the comfort of your own office. “Hiring and Utilizing a Private Investigator in Your Law Practice” is a popular one. Designed to answer key questions about working with legal investigators, this 1-hour program explains how to know when it is best to use an investigative service and how to find the qualified investigator best suited to your needs.
Call us at 501-515-2868 and see how we can help you.
** If you have a case and are not sure if an investigator can help or contribute to your case, contact us for a free review. **