How to Select an Investigator
Objectibve guidelines to help you meet your investigation needs:
What an Investigator can do for you
Summary of Key Points
  • Experience
  • Knowledge
  • Resources
Here is a scenario we face quite often. A young anxious attorney calls our office. He or she is prepared to retain our firm’s services, however, clearly advises us over the phone, "I don't know what you guys can do. Most of what I need I can get done on my own, but the Partner on this case said to hire you." The thought behind this attorney’s belief is correct. He or she can certainly accomplish these tasks—but not as expeditiously, and not with the same thoroughness an experienced investigator brings to the table.

The correctly selected investigator brings the experience of having previously investigated similar claims, as well as the knowledge of where and how to develop the information and/or evidence required to defend this matter. Further, the investigator should be able to assist trial counsel in opening the closed doors or bypassing various obstacles. Overall, the investigator should know the lay of the land.

Selection Criteria
Summary of Key Points:
  • Investigator must be licensed
  • Knowledge of venue and claim type
  • Ability to relate to you and your client
  • Has sufficient support available and in place
Without question, the investigator must be licensed in the state where the matter is venued. Further, the investigator must be licensed to serve process (subpoenas, third-party actions, etc.). Often, trial counsel is unfamiliar with the statutory requirements in a large city. A strong adversary will be aware of this requirement, and may challenge the service.

The correctly selected investigator will understand the venue your matter is in. He or she will know the court rules, understand how evidence can be used in the court, and know the general rules and procedures surrounding so-ordered subpoenas, non-party contact, and certified records.

Overall, as trial counsel you must be able to relate to the investigator. You need to be assured that the investigator understands the claim, the allegations, and the theory of defense—and as a result—is able to anticipate your needs. Further, the investigator must have previously investigated similar complex losses and be familiar with the procedures, policies, and directives associated with the allegations of the loss.

Finally, the investigator must have a large enough staff as well as the contacts to be able to expeditiously address your claim. He or she must possess the ability to conduct on-line searches while providing a written report of substance and value.

Your first meeting with an investigator
Summary of Key Points:
  • Understand the scope of the investigation
  • Identify the client
  • Open your file
  • Identify expert witnesses
Whether the objective of your first meeting is to address the first notice of claim, or to actually prepare the matter for trial, the investigator should be given full access to your file as well as the opportunity to consult with trial counsel to discuss the various facets of the file. Ensure the investigator has an in-depth understanding of the matter and clearly understands the scope of what needs to be done.

Most important, be certain the investigator understands exactly who your client is. Be certain your investigator has all contact names and numbers—as may be required by the client. In addition, provide the investigator with a letter of introduction, which may be used when meeting with witnesses and clients. This will facilitate compliance with the requests or interviews, which may be needed to further the investigation.

Do not assume the investigator already has an understanding of what is known, or has been previously identified during the discovery process. Allow the investigator to review the Notice of Claim, Summons and Complaint, Bill of Particulars, all depositions, all documents already provided by your client, any hospital records or admissions, any discovery orders, and, if a matter is venued in Federal Court, the Pre-trial Order(s).

Provide the investigator with an opportunity to speak with any expert witnesses you intend to call. This will allow the expert and investigator to exchange ideas. It also ensures that the investigator will collect all the documents, procedures, and evidence (having these materials trial-ready) that the expert will rely upon to provide his/her opinion.