Hiring the right Chicago private investigator can be hugely beneficial to an attorney. A quality investigator can help locate missing people for depositions, or gather the important evidence needed to build a solid court case.
As PIs, we know that the stakes are high not just for clients, but for attorneys as well. Obtaining crucial information can make a case, creating a positive outcome for both attorneys and clients.
On the other hand, missing or improperly gathered evidence or the failure to track down a missing person can tip the scales out of your favor. The result could impact your case, your clients and even your professional reputation.
That’s why it’s so critical to hire not just any Chicago private investigator, but the right one. To ensure smooth sailing for you and your clients, here are five serious mistakes to avoid when hiring your PI.
Mistake #1: Not verifying a PI’s track record
Not all PIs are created alike. While it’s tempting to hire the person who shows up first in your search results, take the time to verify their background and credentials. Fast-forwarding through this step can result in much more time and money having to be spent correcting problems later on.
So before hiring, verify your potential Chicago PI’s credentials, check that they have experience in litigation support, and confirm that there are no potential conflicts of interest. We also recommend asking to see an example of their past work product.
Doing all of the above will give you confidence that your PI knows how to gather admissible evidence through the proper channels – plus how to subsequently present it in court.
Mistake #2: Not considering specialization or expertise
Some PIs bill themselves as a “Jack of All Trades”, but in reality this often means that they don’t have the expertise needed to do your particular case justice. As an attorney you likely specialize in certain types of cases: it only makes sense to hire a PI who does as well.
Hiring a Chicago private investigator who specializes in, for example, fraud or in marital cases will make the experience more efficient and effective. Your PI will already be up to speed on the kinds of evidence you require, and will be able to present high quality reports that will help you build your case.
When hiring, either ensure that your PI specializes in your case type, or that their firm will be able to assign an in-house expert to your case.
Mistake #3: Not checking for licensing and liability
The best PI in the world is a poor choice if they don’t have the appropriate licensing and liability insurance. Just as attorneys require licensing to practice in a particular state, so do private investigators. Most states also require active PIs to have up-to-date business and liability insurance.
When vetting prospective Chicago PI candidates, be sure that they have a registered business, PI license and paid-up liability, and that they’ll be the ones actually doing the work. This will reduce business risk for you, and will also help ensure that any evidence and information gathered will be legitimate and admissible.
Mistake #4: Not hiring the PI directly
Skip the middleman and hire your PI directly: don’t have your client do it for you. This helps avoid conflicts of interest and also ensures that the PI will be appropriately briefed. Additionally, it also makes sure that anything the PI uncovers becomes your privileged work product.
On a similar note, confirm that your PI isn’t contracting out the work to someone else. Their doing so will only undermine your efforts to hire someone who is credible, experienced and licensed.
Complexity adds the risk of added costs, communication issues and delays. Keep things simple for best results.
Mistake #5: Not getting a clear scope of work in writing
When hiring your private investigator, clearly scope out exactly what the deliverables and timeframe are, as well as an agreed-upon fee structure. If these things are left open-ended and poorly defined, PI costs can rapidly creep up.
However, the way to keep costs down isn’t by hiring the cheapest PI. It’s by defining expectations, case duration and anticipated tasks. Before proceeding, you’ll also want to define how additional tasks can be added to the project if required, and how these will be approved and billed.
Avoid making the above mistakes when hiring a Chicago private investigator and you’ll be well on your way to a fruitful working relationship that will serve both you and your clients well in court.