Finding the perfect expert witness for your case is difficult enough—so how in the world do you find an expert on a never-before-seen virus during a global pandemic?
When COVID-19 hit in the beginning of 2020, Kelley Baione, the Director of Expert Witness Services at Round Table Group, knew right away that it was time to construct a panel of expert witnesses about the virus. As she says, finding and creating this panel wasn’t easy—COVID-19 was a novel coronavirus, so COVID-19 experts were virtually non-existent. However, with plenty of hard work, expertise, and an extensive database to rely on, Round Table Group created a top-notch panel of COVID-19 experts in no time.
In this episode of the Engaging Experts Podcast, Russ Rosenzweig and Kelley Baione sit down with Rise25 Co-Founder John Corcoran to discuss how Round Table Group constructed a COVID-19 expert witness panel in 2020. Listen in as Russ and Kelley talk about how Round Table Group identifies and utilizes expert witnesses, the various ways that COVID-19 has impacted the company’s search process, and more. Stay tuned!
Note: Transcript has been lightly edited for clarity.
John Corcoran, Co-Founder, Rise25
Russ Rosenzweig, CEO and Co-Founder, Round Table Group
Kelley Baione, Director, Expert Witness Services, Round Table Group
Introduction: Welcome to Engaging Experts, the podcast that goes behind the scenes with influential attorneys. Our guests will describe their practice and expertise. Then we will go deep on various topics related to effectively using expert witnesses.
Russ Rosenzweig: Hi. This is Russ Rosenzweig. I am the CEO and Co-Founder of Round Table Group, where we have been helping litigators to more efficiently and cost effectively locate and engage their expert witnesses for 27 years now, God help me. I am also the co-host of this show in which we feature top influential attorneys, talking about how they use experts and how they use experts in the course of their practice. Today we’re going to flip it a bit, and I’m going to introduce, speaking of experts, John Corcoran, who, in my opinion, is the world’s leading podcast expert. He’s going to interview one of my beloved long-time colleagues, Kelley Baione, on the topic of our COVID-19 practice group. John, as always, take it away.
John Corcoran: Excellent. Russ and Kelley, it’s an honor and a pleasure to have both of you here and this is going to be a really fun and topical subject to talk about. It’s the creation of one of the first COVID-19 expert panels out there. We’re going to talk about how that came about and some of the different issues that come up around it. But first, before we get into that, this episode is brought to you by Round Table Group, the Experts on Experts®. For more than 27 years, they have helped litigators locate, assess, and engage the best and most qualified expert witnesses. Round Table Group is a great complement to any litigator’s expert witness quest, and their search is always free of charge. The skilled team will review the complaint or patent and discuss all the nuances and details of the perfect expert. They’ll perform thorough and comprehensive research and even call the candidates to check for conflicts and confirm their availability, saving attorneys hours of time. If you need an expert witness now you can visit roundtablegroup.com or contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org. There’s always a seat for you at the Round Table, where they provide a level of service and breadth of experts that is peerless in the realm.
So, Kelley, I’m going over to you. You’re the Director of Expert Witness Services for Round Table Group, and we’re recording this in December of 2020, so the COVID-19 pandemic is not that old — it is less than a year old. At what point did you realize that you need to have some kind of COVID-19 panel?
Kelley Baione: Almost right away. As soon as the pandemic began, we saw the need. We were starting to hear from our clients. Obviously, they weren’t in litigation yet, but they knew it was coming and they were starting to look for experts to provide expert advice. In the beginning, we decided against forming the practice group, because, at first, it felt wrong. It felt almost like we wanted to avoid any perception that we were trying to somehow capitalize on a global tragedy. That is the opposite of what Round Table Group stands for and what we believe in. Clients started coming to us with questions, like, “Do you have any infectious disease experts? Or any virologist experts with knowledge of how this disease replicates and spreads?” They couldn’t find an expert at this point because no one had COVID-19 on their resume yet. How could they? It was a novel coronavirus.
John Corcoran: That was going to be my first question. How do you put together a panel? Where do you find experts when you have something brand new that the world has never seen before?
Kelley Baione: Well, the reason why our clients come to us is because they know that what Round Table Group does best is finding those niche, impossible to find experts. [While] no one had COVID-19 on their resumes yet, we found experts with experience in a variety of different areas of expertise that were relevant to COVID-19 for current and future litigation. For example, they asked for medical experts. We were looking for virologists, epidemiologists, infectious disease experts. Experts like that, with knowledge of how a virus might replicate and spread and general biologic and disease concepts. It turns out that although they were not COVID-19 experts per se, they were virus experts. And there are coronaviruses other than COVID-19.
John Corcoran: Right. I know we did a whole other episode where we went really deep into kind of the research methodology: How you track down different experts, how you find them both in your database built over the last 25 years and you know different databases on the Internet, searches, you know, phone calls, networking . . . all that kind of stuff. Shed a little light for us on how you went about tracking down those initial experts.
Kelley Baione: First of all, let me just say that that the practice group is a stable of experienced expert witnesses in numerous areas. A lot of the experts we already had in our database, we already knew about [them]. I thought, and others thought, of people that came to mind as people who might have relevant expertise. We have a lot of experts we were aware of already. But looking for more, we do keyword searches, for example. I knew I was looking for a virologist, immunologist, public health terminology, and that’s how we find them. But the practice group are experts that have expert witness experience. They aren’t new experts. They’re knowledgeable in their areas and they’ve worked on other cases.
John Corcoran: Yeah, that’s important. And what types of litigation are you seeing so far? Or is it too early to tell?
Kelley Baione: Oh no, I can name a number. Unfortunately, the pandemic has affected all aspects of our lives, right? We have experts in so many different practice areas, but they’re really four that I’m seeing. The medical experts that I just talked about. They’re being called on to address issues like standard of care, how the disease spreads; and there are cases like premises liability, nursing home liability, cruise ship liability… so many different types of where they’re addressing negligence and standard of care. Another very big area of litigation, unfortunately, is insurance. So many individuals and businesses have lost so much money because of the pandemic, they’re naturally turning to their insurance policies to try to recoup some of those losses. We have expert witnesses in property insurance, health insurance and business interruption. Another big area is supply chain, logistics and transportation. These experts are being called on to address claims of business interruption and supply chain disruption. They are also needed for breach of contract litigation, where a product or a supplier had to be substituted because of COVID-19 [related shortages]. All of a sudden, they’re being sued for breach of contract when they had really no choice as because of COVID-19, the original supplier was no longer available. The last category that comes to mind is employment, labor and unemployment benefits. They are addressing employment discrimination, health and safety workplace violations, and employee claims of retaliation by their employer for talking about compliance concerns. There are whistleblowing cases.
John Corcoran: Wow, wow.
Kelley Baione: That’s really the big four areas that we’re seeing.
John Corcoran: That was really comprehensive. Thank you, Kelley. Any other final thoughts on what you’re seeing right now? [Other] types of needs that you’re seeing in the expert witness realm?
Kelley Baione: Well, these are the main areas that we’re seeing right now. I’m fairly confident, sadly, that the vaccine, which is a wonderful thing, is unfortunately probably going to give rise to more litigation. But right now, the areas that I mentioned are really the big areas.
John Corcoran: That was very interesting. Well, Kelley, for those who’ve been listening to this and who could use help with locating an expert, where can people go to reach out, connect with you, or to learn more about Round Table Group?
Kelley Baione: Sure, go to roundtablegroup.com. You’ll find all of us on there. You’ll find me, you’ll find Russ, and all of our managers who do the expert witness work in the COVID-19 Practice Group. You can also, for those of people who are listening, we have blogs [to visit]. We have COVID-19 blogs. And you can go to our website roundtablegroup.com and go to the Around The Table Blog and we have a variety of COVID-19 blogs that are actually interviews with our COVID-19 experts to learn a little bit more about the areas.
John Corcoran: Excellent. Kelley, thanks so much.
Kelley Baione: Thank you.