Case Management: The gift that keeps on giving.
By Beryl Vaughan
Case management for in forensic practice can be casual, simply because the expert is used to doing it on their own. It isn’t necessarily cost effective or a good use of the expert’s time. I learned useful lessons in law that are easily applied to a forensic expert’s practice. Take a page from your attorney-client. Law is what they do. Litigation support is what an expert witness does.
To be clear, in no way is case management the same as the expert’s professional knowledge and rendering of opinion. This article is about the administrative management of workflow to keep everyone on track as deadlines loom and events evolve.
In law, case management is usually the purview of a paralegal or associate attorney.
I learned in law that it was efficient and cost-effective to have a support team with sophisticated skills. It sounds obvious but the fact is that the most valuable time for a practice is the time the expert spends being an expert. The more the expert has to run the practice and keep track of everything, the fewer his or her billable hours and income.
In a law firm, the method by which you manage the flow of a case (prioritizing deadlines, making sure everyone is on task, anticipating what’s next) is a matter of experienced paraprofessionals and a well-developed systems design. In a law firm these are key: delegating, tracking, calendaring, follow-up, a hefty tickler system, the document management of records for a bevy of experts, even a thoughtful filing system, will improve the workflow. On the face of it, systems are designed to automate. In fact, I learned well that systems are (1) a method to anticipate and avoid trouble, and (2) to keep things moving smoothly.
In every case, your attorney-client will be pleasantly surprised and even relieved, to know that they can count on someone in your office to keep an eye on what’s important. Attorneys are used to hand-holding experts. Further, most psychiatrists and psychologists have a singular approach to their practice: the expert, and no staff or someone who answers the phones and types reports. Attorneys grow tired of “leave a message,” telephone tag, long email threads… Who can blame them? It goes both ways. Give the same customer service experience to your attorney-client that they provide to their own clients.