Expert Witness Secrets

Setting your fees for expert witness work [part 1 of 2]

October 28, 2021 Dr Sandeep Senghera BDS, University certified expert witness Season 3 Episode 16
Expert Witness Secrets
Setting your fees for expert witness work [part 1 of 2]
Show Notes

The challenge

We're going to spend a minute or so just talking through what was probably the most important thing for the expert in my view is the actual hourly rate or the fee structure that you want to set out yourself , as a supplier of independent expert evidence 

What is your time worth?

Now this is always a tricky conversation for most people because perhaps we've got to get to the bottom line of what level of time one is willing to exchange for the fees that are being offered. [ core is to measure your worth] 

And I've put it like that because ultimately, this type of work, which is akin to consultancy work, or very much a specific, unique professional service, which only you as the expert can do, it's going to come down to your expectation of what you set your sort of own value to. 

And starting with the end in mind here makes fee setting a lot easier. 

Because what we can do then is of course, reverse engineer the numbers so that our fees are reflective of what we're expecting to generate per hour or if you'd like per report, depending on how you prefer to think about this, then it's entirely up to you, I've got no magic formula here of what you're trying to achieve other than spending a few moments just thinking through what your expectations are. 

How much do you currently earn?

There is a tool which I have been made available to prior to starting this course, or you could access it through the resources section of this module is largely around working out what your current hourly rate is. And it's quite a difficult one to calculate, because of things like travel time and admin time. And if you like non income generating tasks, which are part and parcel of your work, which eat into your day, but you would not be typically getting paid for things like travel, or note keeping. They're all integral parts of what you're being paid as a professional on a monthly or yearly basis. So what I would encourage you to do is just have a little reflective reflection on what you think you're worth today and what you would like to be generating in your expert witness work. I'd like to sort of at least say that in my experience, the expert witness work is certainly more lucrative than the clinical work. And that's largely because of the amount of additional time of non income generating tasks that were being performed by me, through the ever increasing levels of compliance, red tape, and patient expectations on the continual rise really do erode off that sort of hourly rate, because, of course, incomes are not being increased at the same level, to be able to maintain a certain level of hourly rate. 

Setting an intention

So long story short here is sort I’d really want you to set your stall in terms of your price per hour, have a number in mind, and then perhaps we can think through how long a report is going to take off your time. Again, these things you can potentially start to play with, test, maybe measure if you're currently doing some of this type of work, and then set yourself some internal targets. For example, in my case, I set myself a target to ensure that I’m not spending more than 90 minutes on a report. That's subsequently reduced and I've set further targets to reduce it to sort of sub 60 minutes per report as well. Now that level of discipline is allowed, it's almost forced me to make sure that the work does not require my input is being done by somebody else. And in turn, that is obviously increasing the hourly rate if we're on a fixed fee basis, because the amount of time I'm spending is gradually reducing, but the fees that I'm charging are gradually increasing. And that's how I'd like you to really set out your fee structure and your philosophy around fees structuring. So, hope that's o