Growing as an Expert Witness

It may be hard to imagine today but sometime in the future you may find yourself with not enough work to keep you busy, especially when interest rates begin to climb. Even if you’ve reached a certain point in your practice and find that existing clients and word of mouth keep you relatively busy regardless of the market, it always makes good business sense to explore ways to diversify.

Providing appraisal and consulting services as an expert provides an opportunity to learn and grow intellectually as well as to generate handsome fees. Each assignment is different and provides a unique challenge. While this story is geared to appraisers, home inspectors are also finding greater opportunities as expert witnesses and many of these marketing tips apply to both professions. Here’s how to get started growing as an expert witness.

Attorney Referrals
Over 90 percent of expert services result from attorneys who seek to hire and designate an “expert” appraiser. One very effective method of landing this business borrows a technique from real estate agents called “farming.” First you identify the attorneys who represent the type of clients you want to work for. Next, you contact these attorneys in a systematic manner to let them know you provide expert services. We prefer to use written materials, personally addressed to each specific attorney.

Make a list of attorneys in a chosen area of interest. The easiest place to start is with family law attorneys. Appraisals for divorce actions are very similar to mortgage appraisals. In a typical action the husband and wife each hire their own appraiser. If there is a major difference in value, a third appraiser is hired. A good marketing approach is to tell an attorney that you are an experienced appraiser and have no bias. Ask him/her to present your credentials to the opposing side to see if you can act for both parties. Using only one appraiser provides a significant monetary savings for their clients and serves to expand your referral base by a factor of two.

There are directories that list attorneys by geographic location and by area of practice. You can find attorney directories in your area by searching the Internet under “attorney directories.” The Internet also lists attorneys by area of specialization.

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