What Our Clients Told Us About Experts: “Art” and “Science” before “Math”

It is a concept as old as commerce itself.  Any organization striving to grow must cater to the needs of its customer.   Without understanding a customer’s needs, any business runs the risk of having “a solution in search of a problem.”   Homestead Medical Experts, an expert witness referral service based in Princeton, NJ, is no exception.

Working with plaintiff and defense attorneys, insurance carriers, and other third-party partners in a demanding legal industry requires us to understand the macro needs of law while also considering the micro needs of an individual attorney, their client, and the case specifically.   Qualifying and vetting expert witnesses of all types (with a specialty in the medical field), requires a deep understanding of the needs of an attorney.   Without that understanding, we risk having a “solution in search of a problem”.   We believe there is no replacement for experience and trust when working with our clients.

With so many ways of learning what the client needs and expects, asking the right questions is second only to listening.   In September and November of this year, we began to ask great questions and listen intently to what our clients wanted and needed from Homestead Medical Experts.   We were not disappointed.  As it turns out, when you ask attorneys what they want and need from a referral service, they don’t hold back!  And when it came to something as critical to success as expert witnesses, they let us know what they looked for and the criteria they held most important.   We had many assumptions reaffirmed and learned a few new things along the way.

The Science:  The Homestead Medical Experts team understands attorneys review “the Science” around an expert witness.  In recruiting terms, it’s the qualifying of an expert.  The science is often illuminated in the expert witnesses’ CV.  Critical factors are their education, background, experiences, boards, published papers, awards, nominations, teaching experiences, and affiliations.  These factors, however, must also be weighed against the case at hand.

For example, the board certifications and educational background needs of an Orthopedic Spine Surgeon providing a narrative regarding an injury sustained in a motor vehicle accident that required physical therapy to address may be much different from that of a surgeon involved in a spinal fusion surgery resulting in the potential wrongful death of that patient.   Conversely, the experiences of an ICU RN will not lend well to issues involving Nursing Home standards of care.

Understanding the science of what an attorney requires takes experience and understanding on the part of the recruiter, something the Homestead Medical Expert team brings to every matter.   And from an attorney’s perspective, it’s where “the party starts”.  It’s the easiest portion to review, digest and understand, but the work is really in “the Art”.

The Art:  Where science is easily digested on paper, art requires our recruiters to identify additional skills and experience.   From a recruiting perspective, the “art” is in the vetting.  Based on the feedback we received from our clients, attorneys value clear communication, an expert’s display of confidence, and motivation for involving themselves in expert witness work.  As has been said, “you know it when you see it” with some of the “art” characteristics of great experts.

Can the expert speak to complicated medical procedures in an easily understood manner?   Do they recognize intense medical nomenclature in their speech, and can they accurately read an audience?   From a confidence standpoint, on the first consult call, are they leading a conversation and bringing up points the attorney might not have considered?  Are they lending value to the case from the first conversation or waiting to be led with a “what do you need” attitude?

As they answer questions, are they using words that provide substantial certainty in their opinions or using the loose language of “maybe,” “probably,” and “sometimes”?  Arriving at an expert’s true motivations may be the most artful of our work as recruiters.   Do they like to actively engage in the work to be a better healthcare provider?  Are they engaged as an expert to learn and use the forensics side of their abilities or is it a matter of simply supplemental income?   Attorneys want actively involved, engaging, motivated, secure, and confident experts.  Attorneys value those qualities and base a retention decision on personal values and the needs of the family, the case, and justice as much as they do a CV.

The Math: Ultimately, they must also consider “the math”.   And while it is the “third fiddle” to finding an excellent expert through the personal weighing of the art and the science, potential outcomes are considered against potential reward before making a final retention decision.

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