What to ask when you’re hiring a private investigatorPoliceman leaning over a blackboard and looking at a map of the city, pointing at one of the houses

All PIs are not alike. Find the right firm by asking the right questions.

Hiring a private investigations firm can feel daunting. It’s a field most people know little about beyond TV shows and movies. When it comes to your real-world case, how can you know who to trust? Here are several questions to help you find a firm that’s the right fit for what you’re hoping to accomplish.

General due diligence

  • What is your firm’s focus and track record? Have you handled your specific type of case before? What was the outcome? Ask about previous successes.
  • How do you go about finding information? Some firms only offer desktop and public records research. Others, like Waterfront, can access a number of private databases, and have extensive experience getting information via human inquiry. This can be important if you need information on an individual or company information which is not in the public record.
  • Can you navigate the digital world? If a digital footprint is an important part of what you hope to find out, you’ll want to feel confident your firm understands research and investigations for social media. What do they look for and what do they find?
  • Who would be working on my case? For some inquiries, you may want someone with a specific kind of demeanor. Also, cases going to trial can benefit from people with a strong legal background.
  • Can you take this case? Does the firm have any potential conflicts of interest to be aware of?

For cases going to court

  • Do you have trial experience? What has been the outcome? Is the firm’s experience in state and federal court? The way evidence is gathered can differ for each. Teams with a legal background understand what is obtainable and usable in court.
  • Do you have experience testifying under oath? If an investigator needs to take the stand, you should feel confident they can handle it and will show up prepared.
  • Do you have experience producing material for court? Find out if the firm has provided written reports that were submitted to the court and shared with the other party. This is a great way to find out if can they operate at a level where they are contributing meaningfully to your trial team.

For corporate investigations

  • What can you find out about the inner workings of a company? What’s been your experience doing that? These are valuable questions to ask in M&A situations. Does the firm you’re considering understand how corporations are organized? Do they understand subsidiaries and investor roles? What are their processes for untangling corporate structures?

Clarity increases the likelihood of success

As you read through these questions, you probably noticed some are more important to your case than others. Going through this exercise also likely prompts more questions that are unique to your situation. Being clear on your own goals helps you and the firm you select in working together for a successful outcome.

For a free, private consultation about your case, contact us today at [email protected] or 415-905-0462.