UK Expert Witness Databases
We are about to re-register as an expert witness (in the UK) and I am looking at various internet databases/search engines that the legal profession uses and trying to asses them. I am particulalry interested in increasing jobs from lawyers and barristers so could you help me out with the following questions.
1) has anyone registered on a UK Expert Witness database, which one and have you had many referrals - ie was it worth it
2) would anyone recommend a particular EW database to register on
3) is this the best approach in attracting the legal profession
Many thanks for you help, look forward to your replies - thanks for your time everyone.
We're registered with a number of directories, most of which fail to spring to mind )
One which has yielded results for us is http//www.expertwitness.co.uk/
We don't get huge numbers of referrals from the directories, perhaps one every couple of months, but they do pay for themselves very quickly.
Almost of our work comes in through word of mouth recommendations from existing clients but getting to that stage can be tricky. It's always worth hiring someone to cold call all the legal firms in a region but the difficulty is in getting to past the PAs in order to speak to the right people ?
Good luck, I hope it works out for you.
oops, should have read "Almost all of our work comes in through word of mouth recommendations" oops
There are so many of these directories that I have to admit we avoid them. Doing a good job for one law firm naturally leads to others. I find most of our new work comes from Barristers we have sat next to (or opposite!) in Court who are impressed with our work and the phone rings from them next time.
The directories also generate work from all over the country and I'm not too keen to go to the North East or somewhere for a job it eats into the profit margin. I aim for firms within a 1 1/2 hours radius.
I find Cold Calling just results in 'send your details' and no real response. As with all marketing a bit of everything, targeted and done with quality can work well.
All the best with your efforts though.
thanks for that chap - it's part of an integrated marketing plan as well as the other marketing channels we work on.
Thanks for your comments, seems to be a very mixed opinion that I have received since I started researching these databases - some Barristers/Legal firms that we already work for have mixed opinions as well.
We should have a chat sometime as we tend not to take any work from any further South than you guys as its too far away to be practical, possibility of some dialogue perhaps?
Either PM or call, contact number on web site - www.csitech.co.uk
I know what you mean about travel eating into the profit. We find that the LSC have a rigid expectation to pay the same for a given job regardless of where the expert is travelling from, which does give us a headache when contemplating a job with significant travel time.
Mind you, it's not so much the charging that bothers me as the sheer amount of time I spend on the road. I'm off down to a job in Devon this week - 9 hour round trip -/
God I hate hotels, mind you at least I've got a swimming pool on this one -)
Say Andy, you're not too far away from where I'm heading - want to meet up for a beer and some networking?
The CRFP (www.crfp.org.uk) looks set to take over the job from all the others. They introduced themselves at the F3 conference in October and were very impressive. Accreditation will be reviewed by a panel of peers and the whole process is transparent and based on the accreditation process that's been available for a number of years now to areas like forensic medicine, SOCOs, fingerprinters, crash investigators etc. You'll submit samples of your work and be judged on that, basically. The computer forensics accreditation has been under discussion for a couple of years and will be led initially by Tony Sammes and Peter Somner. I think that it will reach the stage where if you're appearing in court without CRFP credentials, you're going to get some funny looks from the bench. The CRFP are not-for-profit and are initially part-funded by the Home Office. Accreditaion will cost Â£150 annually.
I think this is a very good thing for computer forensics in the UK - hopefully it'll make a lot of the charlatans and wannabees think twice before offering their services, even if they do have some dubious piece of paper affiliating them to some gang of 'experts' that they bought for a few hundred quid and a reference from a lawyer.
Yeah I agree partly with your comments re the CRFP offering, I spent quite some time with them at F3 but until both the industry and legal worlds embrace them they lack any teeth. I hope that they become similar to the BMA or Law Society but I can't see it happening for a while.
The time to get the paperwork filled out is a 2 edged sword also, I've had it on my desk since F3 and haven't made any progress at all as case load is so heavy. This will put off quite a few whilst, of course, the process of peer review is the only way to sort the wheat from the chaff.
All the law firms and Barristers I deal with every day are not yet aware of it so no sign of the 'funny looks from the bench' you mention.
I really hope it works out but until people like me get my application in then I'm part of the problem rather than the solution. Speaking to the MD's of some of the 'larger' forensic companies they are watching and waiting rather then chucking another Â£150 each and a load of time preparing the applications for it.
Aside from that the majority of the work I do is corporate incident response and subsequent investigations. Educating the corporate market is going to be an even bigger job.
Have you got your application in yet?
Oh and Justin, I'm in Bristol just off the M5, so about 1/2 way through your journey if you need a coffee stop!
I know what you mean about the forms sitting on a desk since the F3 -) We're going to put one person from the office through it first, so we can learn any lessons from his process. He's filled in the forms, but I think we're still waiting for a go-ahead from higher up.
I think that educating the courts will have more effect than educating the corporates atm - once they start asking for it, the rest should fall into place (that's the theory anyway). I understand that the CRFP are actively out there doing seminars for judges and other court folk. I suppose that they've already got credibility because they've been accrediting SOCOs and fingerprinters etc for years now.
I'm enthusiastic about it because I've seen some very sloppy work done by people who are on a couple of other registers that, when you look into them, only require an annual cheque. It all depends on how credible it is within the industry, I suppose - I know that there were almost universal 'sharp intakes of breath' when the initial panel was announced, but you're never going to please everybody -)
We should probably move this to a dedicated CRFP post! Putting one person through is a good idea I will look at that.
This is a very difficult area, especially for a private examiner like me as it is almost impossible to definitively prove a qualification and ability in this area. I wrote an article on this subject which you can find here- http//www.forensicfocus.com/need-for-industry-control
I have great respect for those I work with in LE but I sometimes see sloppy work on both sides. I find that just because an examiner has a police number, they are automatically considered to be an expert, which I'm sure we would both agree is not always the case.
All of my criminal work comes from recommendations from solicitors and Barristers that have used me in the past. I also have references from several Hi Tech Crime Units that, although on the 'other side' have been impressed. Really that is all that I can go on apart from demonstrating training courses etc. CRFP will help but only if it catches on.
The vast majority of my work is corporate but even in that field it is word of mouth that keeps me busy.
I'm making the assumption you are LE Ben? Were you at F3? If you are planning to be at any of the events we could hook up for a beer and debate!
The good thing about CRFP is that's entirely based on casework (although they also want to see copies of any qualifications you regularly cite). You also need to produce references from customers you've worked for (I think it should be a customer of one of the cases you submit to the CRFP, not sure though), so this should help the people who may be very good at their jobs, but don't have a formal qualification in it (i.e. most of the practitioners I've ever met!)
I agree about there being sloppy work on both sides, but I think it's more difficult for the prosecution to 'wing it' as the burden of proof is on them and their reports are always disclosable to the defence (the inverse isn't true…yet). But yeah, both sides need regulating equally. I'd disagree with 'just because an examiner has a police number, they are automatically considered to be an expert' though - I think that a lot of the time the police officer is seen as being a trained amateur, while the defence guy is automatically dubbed an 'expert' no matter what their qualifications. I don't to get into a 'them and us' thing though - I've met very good people from both sides.
Yes, I'm LE and I was at the F3 (it was a great couple of days, wasn't it?) I'd be up for a beer if I go to any of the other events this year - I'll give you a shout if I'm attending.
That's a very good article by the way - it's definitely a very serious issue. We try to be as acommodating as we can be with defence folk, but if we don't know them and don't know their backgrounds, their premises' security arrangements and so on, they don't leave the unit with anything in their hands. It's also worth bearing in mind that a lot of the time LE don't have a choice about letting an unqualified numpty have access to a case - if he's been hired by the defence solicitors, then he has a right to see it. What needs changing is the credentials that are accepted by the legal side before they hire someone.
Yes, lots of points well put Ben. I also make it my business to get to know the guys in the Hi Tech Crime Units that I may be working with. Especially with my local force where I'm known very well, we have regularly argued out issues long before they ever get to Court and I believe that can be very powerful.
During a recent case, the Judge sent the HTCU officer and myself away to work together one night at a Hi Tech Crime Unit to finalise and agree or disagree on a particular point of evidence. It was a slightly bizarre night but the case was concluded correctly and amicably.
And yes F3 was excellent this year, were you there for the last seminar with Keith from Accessdata, superb, he is a great trainer. I had him for my FTK intermediate course last year, great chap.
Don't know what the next F3 course is but let me know if you are going.
Wow we are well off topic now
Just to keep things off topic - we're also going down the CRFP route, or at least we would be if I got my finger out and completed the paperwork -) Anyone here a CRFP examiner, out of interest?
Sorry I didn't see your coffee invite in time Nick, I'll give you a buzz the next time I'm passing.