Mercy Steenwyk, President & CEO of ForensisGroup, discusses the process of finding the best expert witness for your case and how to make selecting your expert witness easy for you.

What is an expert witness?
Why use an expert witness for a case?
What is an expert witness referral company?
What should I look for when selecting an expert witness?
How do you become an expert witness at ForensisGroup?
How do I retain an expert witness from ForensisGroup?
How do I find an expert witness in my area?
How are the experts at ForensisGroup vetted?
Are expert witnesses checked for testimony viability after their initial acceptance to ForensisGroup?
Why are experts better at ForensisGroup than a directory of experts?
During the recruitment process, what assurances do I have that a potential expert witness will not testify for the opposing counsel (after learning some of the sensitive specifics of my case)?
How long does it take to actually recruit an expert witness? How soon can I have someone testify from the moment I engage ForensisGroup?
Where can I find some case studies, testimonials, or reviews of ForensisGroup’s expert witness location services?
How much will it cost me to ask ForensisGroup to search, recruit and refer expert witnesses for my case?
If I want to use an expert witness for another case, should I let ForensisGroup know? Once an expert witness has been selected, what other services does ForensisGroup perform?
Who actually helps me with expert witness recruitment? What are their qualifications?
What sets you apart as an expert witness referral company?
What is the ForensisGroup Gives Back Program?

What is an expert witness?

An expert witness is someone who is more knowledgeable in a certain field than nearly everyone else in that particular area of study.  An expert, in addition to extensive training, profession and education, has amassed several years of in-depth experience in that specific discipline.  He or she has an excellent track record, a good reputation and is deemed an authority among his peers.  The expert witness has published articles, written books, conducted seminars or training and is sought after for his professional objective opinions.

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Why use an expert witness for a case?

An expert or an expert witness can shed light on the issues of the case, whether simple or complex, to help attorneys and other parties determine what really happened.   The expert witness breaks down complex scientific and technical issues to provide an after-the-fact analysis.  He seeks out to explain what happened, why it happened, how it happened, where it happened, who are the parties involved and what the consequences are, i.e., economic, physical, psychological, medical, material damages.

Talking to or hiring an expert at an early stage of an attorney’s case establishes right away where the attorney’s clients stand technically and scientifically.  And so the attorney will be in an excellent position to develop or defend the case.

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What is an expert witness referral company?

An expert witness referral company is a firm that has a stable of experts, consultants and expert witnesses that they can refer to attorneys, insurance companies and other private or public agencies when they have a need for certain types of consultants, experts and expert witnesses.

The above is the general idea, however; different expert witness referral companies work differently from each other.

At ForensisGroup, what sets us apart is our dedicated client service where we handpick the best selection of experts and expert witnesses to refer, our multi-disciplined approach where we encourage our clients to talk to several experts of related disciplines so that they can benefit from the specific technical and scientific clarification that happens, our free initial consultations to as many experts in as many relevant fields as possible, our customized recruitment at no cost and our rigorous internal qualifying method and expert evaluation at the end of every job by the client and by us.  This is how we maintain a high quality group of premier experts, consultants and expert witnesses.

Our goal is to make finding the right and the best expert witness for attorneys very easy for them while giving them the technical and scientific advantage in the process, thus, the competitive edge in their cases.

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What should I look for when selecting an expert witness?

When selecting an expert witness, look for the highest level of credentials most relevant to the issues of your case, i.e., education, training, experience, breadth and depth of knowledge through published articles, speaking engagements, books authored, and others.

In addition, there should be discussions between attorney and potential expert witness so that both parties can determine if they can work together, that they are on the same page on the issues of the case, that the attorney knows his expert witness including his demeanor and style of communicating, especially on complex issues.  Availability to deliver following certain timelines of the case and willingness to travel should also be discussed.

Some attorneys prefer experts to have already been experienced in deposition and/or trial but others do not give this significance or they prefer experts with no experience in deposition or testifying in court.  These are two schools of thought that are determined by the litigating attorney depending on his strategy for developing or defending his case.

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How do you become an expert witness at ForensisGroup?

To become an expert witness at ForensisGroup, you contact one of our recruiters who will then send you a list of what we require to establish your file.  A team assesses your credentials and breadth and depth of experience in the areas of expertise that you will be referred on.  We also ask for supporting documentation of the important aspects in your file including references.  Rates will be discussed before establishing them for the clients.  Other profiles and information will be requested so that we can include these information in our website and we will be well equipped to provide specific information as requested by potential clients.

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How do I retain an expert witness from ForensisGroup?

You retain an expert witness from ForensisGroup by contacting us via phone or email.  We then handpick experts and expert witnesses to provide you with the best selection that respond to the issues of your case.  We send you their profiles, cv’s and, depending on your urgency, have them call you.  We follow up to make sure we respond to any changes in your search. We work as though we were a part of your team until you find your expert witness.

For complex cases or when the discipline needed is not clearly established, we encourage litigating attorneys to talk to experts and expert witnesses representing various disciplines that have a bearing or may impact the issues at hand.  We believe that each expert witness of a related discipline will shed light technically or scientifically on the various issues you are dealing with.  This gives a good insight as to what type of an expert witness will be most helpful to your case.  This is what we call our multi-disciplined approach.

For the hard-to-find experts, we have full time recruiters who can tailor their search and recruitment efforts to find the right and the best expert witness for you.  There is no cost for this service.

We want to put the client in the best position to make the most intelligent and informed decision in selecting the expert witness for his case.

At the same time, we want to make the process of expert selection very easy for the client and as promptly as possible.

Our goal is that we are able to give you the technical and scientific advantage, thus, the competitive edge in your cases.

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How do I find an expert witness in my area?

To find an expert witness in your area, you have several options.  You can search the internet based on the location and discipline, you can tap universities, private companies or practitioners in the area, research large companies in the industry involved, ask people you know or call expert witness referral companies that service your area.

Call ForensisGroup.  Our services are nationwide and we have been helping attorneys in finding the best expert witnesses for their cases for 22 years.  We have helped over 8,000 litigating attorneys in over 10,000 cases in just about every technical, scientific and medical discipline. We assist you in your search until you find your expert witness all at no cost until retention.

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How are the experts at ForensisGroup vetted?

ForensisGroup has its own 6-step rigorous method of maintaining a high quality group of experts, consultants and expert witnesses discussed earlier.  It is for our own internal quality control that we are pleased to extend as a benefit to our clients.

An important part of our vetting process is the fact that we continually evaluate our experts.  At the end of every job, we ask our clients to evaluate our experts and expert witnesses.  We at ForensisGroup also evaluate our experts and consultants in areas such as promptness, responsiveness to us and to the clients, timeliness of delivery of work, availability, professionalism, ability to communicate and many others.

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Are expert witnesses checked for testimony viability after their initial acceptance to ForensisGroup?

Since we employ various steps to maintain a high quality of experts and expert witnesses, the check is imbedded in the whole process.

Some of these steps include the client evaluation at the end of every job, our continuous assessment covering areas other than the technical or scientific aspects of the work as well as checking on the references.

In addition, what is important is that before we refer, as part of our dedicated client service, we scrutinize the profiles of the experts and expert witnesses again as they pertain to the request at hand.  At that point, we communicate with the potential experts and expert witnesses, talk to them, ask important questions to give us great confidence that they are the best experts for the case.  Our clients then also perform their own qualifying methods pertinent to their very specific requirements.

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Why are experts better at ForensisGroup than a directory of experts?

Our experts and expert witnesses in our group are collectively better because they have been subjected to our own internal quality control procedures and our continuous evaluation by the clients and by our team.  They have met our company’s rigorous standards and are continually being evaluated or graded.  The information we gather and the feedback we get make up the crucial information that enables us to maintain a premier group of consultants, experts and expert witnesses.

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During the recruitment process, what assurances do I have that a potential expert witness will not testify for the opposing counsel (after learning some of the sensitive specifics of my case)?

We check for conflict of interest at the start of every assignment on our end as a company and we ask that each potential expert witness also check for conflict of interest before we refer.  Once a potential expert witness agrees to be referred, he becomes privy to sensitive information.  This then will be safeguarded with utmost confidentiality.  The expert witnesses in our group have the highest level of professionalism and are very well aware of the seriousness of conflict of interest.  If, at some point, it is discovered that the expert witness has been exposed to sensitive information from the other side, the litigating attorneys usually will ask that expert witness to be disqualified.

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How long does it take to actually recruit an expert witness?  How soon can I have someone testify from the moment I engage ForensisGroup?

This differs in every situation or assignment.  It depends on the urgency of the litigating attorney’s case requirements.  It also depends at what point the attorney calls us, whether early in the case to consult, just before designation and other milestones or at the 11th hour.  Other factors that will affect the urgency of retaining an expert witness are the attorney’s calendar of events of the case, such as designation dates, inspections, review of materials, discovery of additional technical and scientific data pertinent to the case, due dates of reports, declarations, other timelines, trial date, etc.

On a regular basis, we respond within the hour and drop everything to meet the tightest deadlines imposed upon us.  However, if the case is complex and the request is on hard-to-find disciplines, the process can become involving.  Depending on the level of complexity of the issues, the client and the ForensisGroup team will explore several avenues including facilitating free initial consultations with several experts in several disciplines to find the right one.  Our team brainstorms on the issues with the client and other experts so that we can cover all relevant areas before our client makes the selection.

If, for any reason, the discipline is unique and we do not have the hard-to-find expert in our group, ForensisGroup will launch a full-blown research and recruitment until we find the right expert witness for our client.

ForensisGroup has become the company of choice for complex cases and, as a result, we have recruited experts and expert witnesses in some of the most hard-to-find, highly specialized and unique disciplines for very large cases nationwide.

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Where can I find some case studies, testimonials, or reviews of ForensisGroup’s expert witness location services?

A representative sample of testimonials is published.  We file the evaluations of experts by clients at the end of every job that we receive.

ForensisGroup has started to publish success stories of our clients on our website where our efforts have helped in the favorable resolution of our clients’ cases.

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How much will it cost me to ask ForensisGroup to search, recruit and refer expert witnesses for my case?

There is no cost for our services to our clients until our clients decide to retain our experts, a file is created, and work commences.

There is no charge for our service to hand pick the best selection of potential experts, facilitate all pertinent information, such as cv’s, profiles, research other necessary data critical in the decision-making of our clients, i.e., tailored responses to requirements on experience and other specific credentials that address the core issues of our clients’ cases.

The initial discussions with as many expert witnesses in as many disciplines as possible until our clients find their experts and expert witnesses are free.

For hard-to-find experts, customized expert recruitment by our full time recruiters is also at no cost to our clients.

Our continuous help working with the clients as part of your team until you find and select the right and the best experts for your cases is a commitment we have to our clients at no cost.

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If I want to use an expert witness for another case, should I let ForensisGroup know? Once an expert witness has been selected, what other services does ForensisGroup perform?

Yes.  Our experts will also let us know if the client will be using their consulting and expert witnesses services in other cases.

ForensisGroup takes charge of all the paperwork and administrative work enabling the litigating attorneys and expert witnesses to focus on the technical, scientific and legal work respectively, thus, freeing them of the administrative burden.

This also includes invoicing, collection and performing, if necessary, the administrative logistics in site inspections, depositions, meetings, reports and others.

Over the life of the case or project, ForensisGroup continues to perform these duties to make sure that the expert witness and attorney are on the same page and that expectations from each party involved are well understood.  In the process, we mitigate any miscommunication in the scope and delivery of service and nips any problems in the bud to make sure that the experience with us is nothing less than excellent.

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Who actually helps me with expert witness recruitment? What are their qualifications?

At ForensisGroup, we have a team of highly qualified professionals who have come to join us bringing with them their education, training and experience to be able to do an excellent good job of helping our clients find the best and the right expert, consultant or expert witness.  They also go through the rigors of on-the-job training for their specific tasks and responsibilities and are committed to making sure that we deliver unmatched dedicated service to our clients.

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What sets you apart as an expert witness referral company?

In a nutshell, it is our dedicated client service, our multi-disciplined approach, our free initial consultations with our experts, our customized expert recruitment at no cost and our ForensisGroup Gives Back program that set us apart.

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What is the ForensisGroup Gives Back Program?

I am very proud of the ForensisGroup Gives Back Program because it enables us to make giving back a part of our every day.  This aligns my personal goals to give back with the company’s.  It has been in existence for almost five years now.   This Program puts a structure in our giving back and engages our clients to help us in this valuable endeavor.  Every time a client retains an expert from us, he is asked to choose a non-profit organization from the selection or he can volunteer his own.  We then donate $25 to the organization of choice.  It is our small way of giving back, one job at a time, one day at a time.

Mercy Steenwyk is President & CEO of ForensisGroup who has founded the company 22 years ago and has received awards and interviewed on national television in programs like Viewpoints and Moving America Forward regarding the expert consulting and expert witness industry.

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ForensisGroup Director Mercy SteenwykMercy Tolentino Steenwyk is the President and CEO of ForensisGroup, a consulting expert and expert witness referral company. Ms. Steenwyk founded ForensisGroup in 1991, and a recipient of different awards in business, non-profit, including for the firm as one of the largest 100 woman-owned and minority-owned businesses in Lost Angeles for 2011 and 2012. Mercy has over 30 years of experience in strategic planning, operations, management & marketing. She received her B.A. from the University of the Philippines and a Professional Designation from UCLA Ext. including numerous graduate studies in diverse topics in business, law and industrial engineering and others. Mercy currently resides in California. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, traveling, painting, poetry, flower arrangement, cooking and giving back.

For more articles from Mercy, please see her Google + profile.