How to avoid falling down the rabbit hole
‘Before she knew it. Alice had grown so large she had to stick one arm out of the window and her foot up the chimney.’
A project director once asked for our help saying his project had ‘grown arms and legs’. We knew exactly what he meant. On large complex feats of engineering, scope creep is endemic, often causing overruns that end up in disputes. But we also see it happening in the cases that result.
The scope of your expert witness needs can grow for several reasons. Sometimes, additional witnesses are in the best interests of the outcome. Sometimes, you need to react to a curve ball thrown by your opponents. And sometimes, you need several technical experts to mitigate the risk of the judge, jury, or panel viewing your assigned expert as ‘not expert enough’ across all they’ve been asked to speak to.
In one recent dispute case, all three drivers were present. What started with the investigations of a single technical expert soon required four. Then, as they answered one set of questions, more arose, many of which fell outside the domain of those initially assigned. In the end, the case requirements determined nine be involved.
What may start with a manageable amount of expert input can draw you down into a rabbit hole of multiplying bytes and paper. Deliverables management becomes a vital skill, which may tax the considerable talents of your more junior lawyers, tasked with the day-to-day interactions. It’s easy for them to feel, as the Red Queen puts it like they’re running at full tilt just to stay in place.
Returning to our recent case, we managed to meet the additional expert needs—even the rarer, more nuanced technical requirements—from our own stable. As the team grew, so did our involvement with their management and the coordination of the experts’ deliverables. In doing so, we relieved the legal team of the headache of finding, assigning, and focusing their own internal resources on the task. The associates remained fully focused on the case, with peace of mind that the expert requirements were properly attended to.
To avoid the spectacle of the opposition team grinning like the Cheshire Cat, be like Alice and lean on your friends. We’re here for you.
We’ve often been a one-stop-shop for our law firm clients over the years and it’s becoming more normal as the need for multidisciplinary teams increases. Missteps of version control or cross-referencing—and continuity of the experts themselves—can lead to embarrassing gaps. To avoid the spectacle of the opposition team grinning like the Cheshire Cat, be like Alice and lean on your friends. We’re here for you.