Private Investigators are indispensable to law firms – so much so that many law firms have a full-time PI on staff. From handling background checks to locating witnesses, a PI can deliver the documentation and evidence an attorney needs to build a solid civil or criminal case.
Here are just some of the ways that a Private Investigator can provide support to a law firm.
1 Gather information
While PIs don’t have access to private banking or medical records, they’re experts in leveraging publicly available information to shore up a case. They might trace and identify assets in a fraud case, or use physical records or online databases to determine the whereabouts or history of a person of interest. Importantly, they know to do so in a way that ensures that any information gathered is admissible in court.
2 Serve papers
Serving court papers to individual defendants requires tracking them down. This can be time consuming and challenging – and not a good use of an attorney’s billable hours. PIs are experts in finding people who don’t want to be found, and are frequently engaged as process servers for this reason.
3 Undertake surveillance
Private Investigators and surveillance go hand in hand. PIs often monitor the activity of individuals named in a case to determine their movements and activity. This information can be used to gauge character in a divorce case, or to provide evidence of fraud in an insurance case. The results of the surveillance can be used by a law firm to determine next steps or to strengthen their case.
4 Background checks
PIs can undertake background checks not just on persons of interest in a case, but also on prospective clients of the law firm. They can review criminal records, financial information, driving records, state licenses and military and education histories to build a dossier of the person in question. This information can help a law firm exercise good judgment in deciding whether to take on a case.
5 Witness depositions
Depositions are formal statements made by witnesses for use in pre-trial discovery or in court. Private Investigators are frequently engaged to track down witnesses to elicit and record a deposition. Depositions can be critical in building a case, so finding and interviewing these individuals is invaluable.
6 Expert testimony
Private Investigators are frequently called upon as expert witnesses. Expert witnesses are critical assets during pre-trial and can also be called upon to testify during a hearing. As law enforcement experts, PIs can help support or refute legal arguments arising during a case.
7 Case Reconstruction
A Private Investigator can reconstruct a crime, helping an attorney to find strengths and weaknesses in the case that they’re building. They can also gather information to build a fuller picture of the crime, for example by identifying relationships between persons of interest.
Using Private Investigators to do the leg work of a case saves attorneys valuable time and money. By delegating research and investigation to an expert, law firms can instead focus their efforts on their clients – and their cases.