In his Plaintiff magazine article “Sub Rosa on Your Side: Working with Private Investigators,” Attorney Clifton Smoot interviews two private investigators (PIs) to discuss best practices for attorneys when enlisting their help to develop the facts of a case.
Attorneys should consider hiring PI’s for two reasons: they can do investigative work much more efficiently, saving the attorney’s time, and they can also act as an independent witness, building credibility and getting the facts into evidence. However, Smoot points out the importance of having attorneys supervise work performed by their non-attorney staff.
“You should be proactively supervising the investigator’s activities with the goal of preventing conduct that a court may construe as an ‘objectionable or offensive’ invasion of privacy,” writes Smoot.
When choosing an investigator, Smoot encourages attorneys to ask colleagues for referrals, check references that investigators provide, check the investigator’s license status, ask the candidate about their insurance coverage, perform a conflict check and request a sample of past work.