What is an Expert Witness Directory? Dozens of online databases aka “directories” exist for the convenience of attorneys to find expert witnesses by name and specialization. They can be a powerful marketing tool if selected for maximum effect and cost-benefit.
Navigating Options: Frankly, of the many dozens of options, only a few are effective. On the other hand, one directory reaches millions of attorneys through a clever relationship with the legal database LexisNexis and large law firm in-house resources. Another does a better job of filtering attorneys and experts so the “matchmaking” process is more successful. A third allows you to post articles, videos and audio files, which attorneys appreciate.
How they Make Money and Why It Matters to You. Understand the directory’s income stream and your decision is easier to make. Common business models:
- Free to the expert.
- Fee paid by the expert to be listed. Usually, tiered options are offered, with both increasing expense to the expert and increased benefits.
- Attorneys pay to use the directory or pay when an expert is retained. Expert pays nothing.
- The directory is free but it is a middle-person business, paying the expert her or his fees, then charging a premium on the hourly rate before billing the attorney. The premium is their income stream.
Cost-Benefit Analysis. The directory allows you to tap someone else’s marketing budget.
- You have the option to include keywords or select premade categories by areas of expertise, distinguishing you from other experts in your field.
- Your CV, a profile, list of your credentials and other benefits give an attorney a fast way to determine if calling you is in order. Callers are already interested in you.
- You benefit from the directory’s own aggressive, expensive SEO tactics.
- Receiving even one or two cases from these resources may easily pay for the expense.
Danger, WIll Robinson!
Note: Some (minority) directories exist that are biased to “defense experts” or “plaintiff experts”-an unethical and professionally devastating association for an objective expert witness.
Bad for Testimony? No, Not Necessarily. It isn’t unusual for opposing counsel to challenge an expert on cross-examination about listing in multiple directories to characterize the expert as being a mercenary in some way, by “advertising.” Of course advertising doesn’t mean “to the highest bidder” but juries might see it that way. Blanket listings everywhere certainly could give that impression. Your limited presence, therefore, on those directories that have an excellent reputation for the quality of experts, means accusations are more easily deflected. As one client said on the stand about marketing his practice, “I have kids to feed,” producing a good laugh from the jury.
Why it works
All marketing begins with the behavior of your client base, usually attorneys; imagine you are the attorney.
You have a case where a unique feature requires an expert witness in a specific field of expertise. The typical “word-of-mouth” method to find the expert isn’t working.
For example, your client was raped (allegedly) by a man who claims he was in a delusional state and believed she was his willing wife. You need an expert who can assess the situation and mental health of both parties, diagnose, review medications or other factors can impact delusional behavior. You may not know if you need a physician such as a psychiatrist, a neurologist if you think the alleged rapist has a brain function issue causing delusions, perhaps a psychologist, or an MFT if family members are involved. You may even need a team of some or all of these.
In such a conundrum–where a case is complex and confusing, thousands, if not millions, of attorneys will conduct a search online.
You have expertise with this type of case, described in your profile directory listing. Your listing may be a high result of the Google search. NOTE: Your own website is more likely on the 2nd or 5th or 20th page of Google results. Luckily, most directories include a link to your website, with benefits for your own SEO.
Expert directories are powerful tools for introducing your expertise and important qualifications to attorneys in a short digestible manner.
Navigating which directories are best for you requires someone familiar with the directory marketplace (regardless of who pays.)
Some directories have been challenged in Court by an opposing counsel who wishes to characterize the expert as being a mercenary, “advertising” in what may seem like an inappropriate manner to juries. Other directories have an excellent reputation for the quality of experts and such accusations are easily deflected.
Navigating the world of expert directories and making the wisest decisions is best done with a knowledgeable person familiar with the options.
We have this conversation and make recommendations with every client.
Making informed decisions best serves the impact of your marketing strategy.