Friday, March 6, 2009

A Word About Cost

One of the most pernicious problems associated with dealing with Parental Alienation in the courtroom is cost. These cases can be very expensive. An attorney’s success is premised on him or her being well prepared, which requires significant time and money. Experts are often part of the mix, which also represents added expenses. It is therefore reasonable to question the necessity of hiring an additional person to the team in the form of a consultant, when there is already so much expense.

However, in cases involving Parental Alienation, the experienced consultant – properly having both extensive clinical and professional experience with Parental alienation, as well as considerable time in the courtroom – can actually reduce cost. A common example can perhaps make this clear. As noted above, Expert witnesses are often required in these cases. When an experienced consultant is not involved, this typically takes the form of the attorney finding and hiring the expert, usually from a pool of forensic experts in the given community. If the local experts do not have adequate experience in Parental Alienation, then the attorney is faced with trying to find such an expert who can then be imported for the purpose of litigation. Depending on the attorney’s network of such experts, his or her degree of understanding of the issues, and his or her time in finding such an expert, the expert is eventually found. Once this occurs, the attorney educates the expert about the case and then sends them voluminous documents about the case for their review. Having served in this capacity, I can attest that the preparation required to be able to testify in such a matter can and often is a great many hours of reading over documents that may or may not be germane to the issue. This review and preparation time consists of the expert organizing, reviewing and sifting through all of the documentation in an effort to prepare for testimony. This process can and often takes many hours and typically costs thousands of dollars. This is, of course, even before any conclusions and opinions are hatched. Once this happens, then the expert and the attorney will spend significant time in consultation with each other for strategic and preparatory purposes. This can also take hours and thousands of dollars.

This process is however different with a consultant on board. First, the consultant would take responsibility for finding the best and most viable expert - either locally or not – based on the issues involved. This selection process involves matching the expert to the issue being argued, which should not fall onto the attorney, who could not be expected to know such subtle differences. Even the best prepared attorney should not be expected to be able to perform this function. With the consultant on board, the attorney expends none of their billable time on such a search, yet ends up with a more thoroughly researched choice of experts. Secondly, the consultant would have already reviewed and boiled down the issues and the specific documents that would be necessary for the expert to review and would be able to present it to them in their “own language.” Less time is therefore spent getting the expert up to speed since they do not have to start from scratch. The case is presented to him or her by the consultant who has already pre-digested it. The preparatory time for the expert is therefore significantly reduced to sometimes a fraction of what would have been the case were the consultant not involved.