When To Hire An Outside Firm?

December 2, 2014

Not only are you a good lawyer – chances are you are a great lawyer. Great enough that your clients have entrusted you with the handling, management and hopefully successful outcome of their case. It probably comes with a lot of assumptions that you put a lot of skill and experience into each decision you make. My guess it would be a pretty safe assumption.

Every part of your case comes with significant decisions that can dictate the direction of your overall case strategy, am I right? Let’s take a little bit of time to discuss some strategies that can be used to determine what your technology and graphics needs for a case destined for the courtroom.

Our focus today is helping you as a great lawyer determine how to balance the need to use internal resources versus hiring an outside expert. For many, this is the delicate balance between budget constraints and the need for effective presentations. This can be a difficult thing to manage. However, there are times that your internal resources can’t achieve your goals or limited due to bandwidth issues.

Here are a few things to consider when deciding when it is time to hire an outside expert to help.

Internal Trial Technologist Bandwidth

A lot of firms now have their own trial technologist in house these days. Let me be clear, this is not a bad thing. Having internal resources to handle trials is a really good thing to have in a firm. However, it becomes a sore spot for some because those resources are generally not scalable. Once someone is committed to a case, they simply can’t do more than one trial at a time.

This is where it is important to have a backup plan. For example, many trial services companies serve as backups to internal resources. It is important that you and/or your in house trial technologist maintain good relationships with a couple different organizations that can fill that role as needed.

Skill Set Limitations

On many occasions, I have been called to help work with a trial team that has determined that their internal resources can’t meet a specific need. This is not a slight on the internal resource in and of itself. It’s pretty hard to find someone who can do it all. Trial technology and graphics experts generally have the opportunity to see a wider variance in case types, styles, and skills. Simply, they see more action in the courtroom. With that deeper skill set, they can serve as more than just an advocate but also play the role of devil’s advocate. That is an important skill to have on a trial team.

When Is One Not Enough?

Often times, internal resources can get tasked with too much. If their roles aren’t clearly defined or overly broad, there will inevitably be problems down the road. These problems can range from being overworked to things falling through the cracks. It’s important to have a reasonable expectation of an individual on your team and determine when you might need more than one person to help achieve the team’s goals.

Comfort Level

Comfort is probably the most underrated need at trial. Having a high level of comfort in the people you are working with can never be understated. In order to successfully use any form of technology in your life, you have to be comfortable with it. Especially if someone else is going to be running it for you. Just recently I spoke with a client who told me that one of their attorneys will not use software like TrialDirector or Sanction at trial. This was simply because they had an internal person with no trial experience trying to use it. That created a bad taste in the attorney’s mouth to this day. If one doesn’t feel comfortable – what’s the point of having the technology in the first place? You need to be comfortable with whom you are working with. If you are comfortable with your internal resource, by all means use them. However, if not, you need to look elsewhere to make sure you are.

Written By: Robert Rosenberg, President of RCS, Inc. (rrosenberg@rcs-legal.com)