On August 23, 2013, ForensisGroup’s CEO Mercy Tolentino Steenwyk was interviewed on Moving America Forward with William Shatner, an in depth television program that airs nationally on television.
Expert Witness Referral Firm ForensisGroup featured on Moving America Forward with William Shatner
William Shatner: Welcome to our series Moving America Forward. Each week, we will be focusing on America’s entrepreneurs as they take us to new roads, new opportunities, new ways to fill the gaps left by today’s failing companies. Our series will be looking at that and a lot more, so come with me and watch as entrepreneurs of our nation move into the future.
Doug Llewelyn: I’m Doug Llewelyn here in our studio in Los Angeles with our guest who’s from a very fascinating company headquartered here in Pasadena, California. Her name is Mercy Tolentino Steenwyk and her company is called ForensisGroup. We are going to find out all about that now from Mercy who is here with us. Mercy, welcome. Nice to have you here.
Mercy Steenwyk: Thank you, Doug. It is nice to be here.
Doug Llewelyn: Let me point out, you know it’s interesting that you had a chance to chat with William Shatner and answer a few questions a little while ago. Let’s take a quick look at just a portion of how that went and then we will continue, all right? Take a look.
William Shatner: You are certainly in an interesting business, but take a moment to describe to me exactly what you do and who you do it for and how it helps move America forward?
Mercy Steenwyk: Mr. Shatner, in the complex courtrooms across America, both the prosecution and defense look to one person to take the stand. He is called the expert. The one to provide the objective, technical, and scientific analysis of what really happened and can make or break the case. We are helping to put some of the brightest minds in America to work, both in the courtrooms and in corporations across our country. And that, Mr. Shatner, is how we are helping to move America forward.
Doug Llewelyn: You know that was very interesting pointing out what you provide to attorneys. I also wanted to point out something that your company is named as one of the 100 largest women and minority owned businesses here in Los Angeles. So, congratulations.
Mercy Steenwyk: Thank you, Doug.
Doug Llewelyn: That is quite a credit.
Doug Llewelyn: What are some of the kinds of problems that attorneys face in finding expert witnesses? Let’s start right there.
Mercy Steenwyk: Well, the complexity of litigation cases has grown exponentially and so attorneys need more and more experts and expert witnesses specialized in very difficult and hard-to-find disciplines. Finding the right expert witness takes a lot of time, energy and resources now that we have this explosive growth of information available to us.
Doug Llewelyn: Right.
Mercy Steenwyk: It’s very hard for attorneys to know where to begin, to even find the right expert and the best expert witness for that matter; to be assured of the best expert witness within the tightest deadlines.
Doug Llewelyn: You know that is easily understandable and I understand you have close to 3,000 experts and expert witnesses that are really on, you know, at your access, that you recommend out to attorneys and they cover all kinds of fields and the fields as you were mentioning to me awhile ago include intellectual property rights, technology, electronics, energy, which includes oil, medicine, securities, construction. The list just goes on and on and on. All right, how do you help attorneys find the best expert witnesses? When an attorney comes to you, what happens?
Mercy Steenwyk: Well, in the midst of this tremendous amount of information, hundreds, thousands of experts available out there, the attorney really only needs one expert witness, the right one and the best one. And we have spent 22 years building our resource group of highly qualified experts, expert witnesses and consultants in every technical and scientific discipline who have also withstood the rigors of our qualifying methods and continuous evaluations.
Doug Llewelyn: Why is a good expert witness so critical for an attorney?
Mercy Steenwyk: The quality of expert witnesses is of paramount importance because it can determine the outcome.
Doug Llewelyn: It can make or break the case?
Mercy Steenwyk: Yes, an expert witness can make or break the case. Careful pre-qualification is necessary.
Doug Llewelyn: So, what are the steps you go through with an attorney when one contacts you looking for the best and the right expert witness for their cases? And you provide this service even though you’re based here in Pasadena, California, for attorneys all over the country, right?
Mercy Steenwyk: Yes, nationwide.
Doug Llewelyn: Nationwide. What happens when an attorney calls looking for an expert witness for his case? What steps do you go through?
Mercy Steenwyk: An attorney usually has an idea of what type of expert or expert witness he needs and so the first thing we do is listen, listen intently, ask clarifying questions about the facts and issues of the case, timelines, milestones, anything that will break down a complex issue so that we can do the best job possible.
Then we research and single out the best potential experts and expert witnesses based on the needs of the client. We talk to these experts; we review their CV’s, especially the experience and credentials that respond most accurately to the issues of the litigation case.
Doug Llewelyn: And what’s interesting, I understand that sometimes an attorney will think he needs an expert witness in a certain category, but after working with you and after you’ve done some thorough research and background, it sometimes comes out that he needs an expert witness from another field altogether that would be more appropriate for his case. Is that right?
Mercy Steenwyk: Yes, very much so.
Doug Llewelyn: So you really are a big help to them.
Mercy Steenwyk: Yes.
Doug Llewelyn: And your experts, they are your expert witnesses. A lot of this work goes on by the way before work for the attorney’s case actually begins. You provide a lot of services. I guess they’re not totally free but you’re not being paid a lot for these upfront services, right?
Mercy Steenwyk: No, we are not. We’re not paid at all until the client retains the expert witness.
Doug Llewelyn: Right.
Mercy Steenwyk: All of this is to make sure that we provide the best selection of experts, expert witnesses and consultants to our clients as expeditiously as possible; thus, giving them the technical and scientific advantage and the competitive edge. And we want to make this whole process very easy for them.
For example, Doug, we facilitate initial consultations with our consultants, experts and expert witnesses at no cost. We become the conduit of critical information between client and expert witness, so that our client can make that most important decision. And when we facilitate the initial consultations with the expert, we also recommend that our clients talk to multiple experts and expert witnesses of different related disciplines. This is very important to us and to the clients especially because at every step of the way, every time a client talks to an expert of a specific related discipline, technical and scientific clarification happens along the way which puts our client in a very advantageous position to make that decision.
Doug Llewelyn: I know you offer unparalleled client service but the key thing is really the experts and expert witnesses that you have, the experts who are available to be expert witnesses. Talk to me about how you have assembled this mighty list that you have. What kind of process do you go through to select your expert witnesses?
Mercy Steenwyk: Well, for over two decades, we have employed our rigorous qualifying methods and our continuous evaluation of our experts, consultants and expert witnesses. Our clients evaluate our experts. The attorneys rate our experts and we evaluate our experts as well in areas such as responsiveness, promptness, ability to communicate with a client, professional integrity and others. We have worked with these experts. We know them.
Doug Llewelyn: I wanted to point out it’s interesting that an expert may be very knowledgeable in a given field but it doesn’t mean that they always can be a good expert witness in a court case. Wouldn’t that be the case?
Mercy Steenwyk: Yes, an expert witness should be able to communicate and break down a complex issue so that everybody understands the issues. That would be an effective expert witness.
Doug Llewelyn: And another thing, most of the experts that you have, I understand, are men, women, who are still working in their respective fields. They’re not always in the situation where they would be retired and out of the business so to speak. Some of them are highly sought after and highly regarded. They write books; they write papers that are in scientific journals and things like that. And they’re still on staffs at universities and corporations and things like that. But they make themselves available to do this, the service that helps attorneys. That’s the way it works.
Mercy Steenwyk: Exactly. Definitely. They’re authorities in their fields. They have authored books; they’re sought out speakers. So, they are experts. They are more knowledgeable than any of us out there in their certain fields.
Doug Llewelyn: And the number of cases that your experts have been involved in through the years I mean it’s in the thousands.
Mercy Steenwyk: Yes, probably about 8,000 to 10,000.
Doug Llewelyn: 8,000 cases. Wow, it shows you how valuable this service is.
Doug Llewelyn: And you started the company, right? 22 years ago.
Mercy Steenwyk: Yes, 22 years ago. Yes.
Doug Llewelyn: What was your background?
Mercy Steenwyk: Well to date, I have 38 years of experience in strategic planning, operations, management, marketing and others. Before I founded the company, I held key marketing positions in the engineering and construction consulting industry where I put together multi-disciplined teams of engineers and companies for large and small projects.
At ForensisGroup, what qualifies us is our 22 years of experience and dedication in building our network of highly qualified experts, expert witnesses and consultants as well as developing, honing and perfecting our processes, procedures, skill sets and growing our knowledge and technology.
Doug Llewelyn: And as you said it’s important that these experts and expert witnesses when they do work on a case, they are constantly being reevaluated by the attorneys who they’re there to help. So, in other words, they’re always being graded.
Mercy Steenwyk: Yes, yes, definitely, that’s how we maintain a high quality group of experts, expert witnesses and consultants. And that’s why after 22 years, we boast of 3,000+ but we have thousands more in our network.
Doug Llewelyn:You know, there’s another area, too. You’re now reaching out into the corporate arena with making these experts available to corporations. How does that work? In what situations would that be of help?
Mercy Steenwyk: For the most part, experts are hired for after-the-fact analysis of what happened. Accidents, explosions have occurred; lives and huge amounts of resources are gone. With our group of experts, expert witnesses and consultants highly qualified in every scientific and technical discipline, we can use this same technical and scientific analysis to help companies take precautionary measures to prevent failure and losses.
Doug Llewelyn: So this is kind of a whole new aspect of your business, utilizing the same experts, set of experts that you have on your list, so I think that’s pretty terrific. Obviously, this is something many corporations would like to take advantage of.
Mercy, this has been great. What an interesting story your company is. You’re based in Pasadena but again you provide this service for attorneys literally all across the country. Thank you so much, Mercy, for telling us all about your company. It’s ForensisGroup, headquartered in Pasadena, California.
Mercy Steenwyk: Thank you so much, Doug.
Rear Admiral Kevin F. Delaney: This organization represents companies across our great nation that embody the spirit, dedication, know-how and can-do attitude which has made America the great nation that it is today. And now let’s present the “Keeping America Strong” award.
Doug Llewelyn: Now it’s my honor to present this prestigious award to Mercy Tolentino Steenwyk, the President and CEO of the ForensisGroup of Pasadena, California for the outstanding work that her firm is doing to help keep moving America forward. Mercy, it’s a pleasure to give this to you, congratulations.
Mercy Steenwyk: Thank you, Doug. On behalf of the entire team of ForensisGroup, thank you for this award and the opportunity for us to present our company on Moving America Forward.
Doug Llewelyn: You’re very welcome.
Mercy Steenwyk:Thank you.
Bert Tenzer: That’s it for another edition of Moving America Forward. I’m Bert Tenzer, join us again as we continue to bring you the entrepreneurs who move America forward.
William Shatner: I’m William Shatner, and from all of us at Moving America Forward, thanks for watching.