Do you want to identify and employ enthusiastic experts without lifting a finger? Are you interested in using a simple, reliable method that will save you valuable time and money? If so, look no further than the the Experts on Experts®, Round Table Group. Since its creation in 1995, Round Table Group has perfected its expansive network and efficient methodology for locating and retaining the world’s leading technical and industry consultants. Today, four members of Round Table Group gather to discuss the firm’s exciting origin story—and how the company has grown and developed over the past 25 years.
In this episode of the Engaging Experts Podcast, Rise25 Co-Founder John Corcoran sits down with Russ Rosenzweig, Dan Rubin, Brice David, and David Seeley, the movers and shakers at Round Table Group. Listen in as Russ, Dan, Brice, and David reveal why Round Table Group was founded, how they built their expansive network of experts, and the power of good conversation during the intake process. Stay tuned!
Note: Transcript has been lightly edited for clarity.
John Corcoran, Co-Founder, Rise25
Dan Rubin, National Business Development Manager, Round Table Group
Brice David, Senior Manager of IP Services, Round Table Group
David Seeley, Business Development Executive, 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.
John Corcoran: John Corcoran here. I’m the host of this show, and in this episode, we’re going to talk about how to go about placing experts, especially with pending litigation. So, if you are litigator or a law firm manager, or if you are at all involved in placing expert witnesses for pending litigation, I have got one of the top companies in the nation that is involved in placing experts for pending litigation [here]. We’re going to get a behind the scenes look at how they go about it — how to select top experts, which really can make a critical difference in any upcoming trial. Before we get to that, of course, I want to mention that this episode is brought to you by Round Table Group, the Experts on Experts®. For more than 25 years, they have helped litigators to 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 the 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 contact the candidates to check for conflicts and confirm their availability, saving attorneys hours and hours of time. If you need an expert witness now, you can visit roundtablegroup.com or contact them at email@example.com.
I’m privileged here today because we have three of the top professionals with Round Table Group here with us. These are the guys who make all the magic happen throughout the year for many of the top trials that you see in the news. First, we have Dan Rubin, who is the National Business Development Manager. We have Brice David, who is Senior Manager of IP Services, and David Seeley, who’s the Business Development Executive. Thank you all for being here today and we’re going to start. I want to start with you, Dan, first. Give us a quick overview for any litigator, any lawyer, any law firm manager who’s listening to this, who maybe has some litigation pending in the future, and they’re thinking, “You know, can I just do this thing myself?” What are the benefits of using a company like yours in order to handle the placement of experts?
Dan Rubin: Sure. Thanks, John, great to be here. First, let me say that attorneys are obviously super busy, right? And they’re busy doing what? Practicing law. A major, integral part of practicing law as a litigator is finding the right expert, but they have limited time available to truly [perform] a comprehensive, rigorous, thorough search for the right expert for their case, let alone await responses from the experts, follow up with the experts and multiple candidates, set up interviews with them, and truly assess their credentials and their ability to testify, if it’s a situation in which they need a testifying expert. Round Table Group will roll up our sleeves on a daily basis because that’s all we do, day in and day out. We are the experts on experts. We’ll do the work for our attorney clients. Saving hours, days, and sometimes weeks of what can often be non-billable time. So that’s one aspect.
John Corcoran: Great, and so we’re going to dive into the way that you go about this, because it’s not just about . . . the network, right? You’ve got connections, but it’s really more than that, right? It’s also methodology of searching. It’s also intake. It’s also conflict checks. And we’re going to dive into those topics, but those are also relevant considerations, correct, Dan?
Dan Rubin: Exactly, all of them.
John Corcoran: Let me hop over to David. Take us through [the process]. You get a call from a litigator who’s got a big case that’s going to be going to trial at some point in the future. Take me through your process for evaluating that case and beginning the process of what’s going to eventually end up in in placing the perfect expert for that particular case.
David Seeley: Sure, thank you John. So, it really starts with us with what we call an intake. The more details that we can get about the case… the facts, the type of expert they’re looking for . . . we pride ourselves in having a truly customized search for an expert, so whatever your matter is, we’re going to find the perfect expert. We’re going to get you the right expert at the right time. We start with getting those details, and it’s really just a matter of going through this intake with the attorney. For example, one of the top things that we like to do right away is find out who are the parties involved? We do that for several reasons, one of them being we are interested in doing an internal conflict check. Round Table Group is committed to not working with both sides of a case, so we want to have those names from the attorney so we can do that conflict check and see if we’re involved. That’s where we start. Then the second thing that we really jump into is we start to learn a little bit more about the case. What are the summary facts of the case? What are the relevant facts of the case? We do that because we want to provide that context to our experts. We want to find that expert [so] that context and the relevant facts are in the wheelhouse of that expert. When we go to our experts and we say, “Here is exactly what the attorney is looking for, does this seem something that you’re interested or are you qualified?” We really need to get those facts to provide that content for our experts. The other thing we do is [obtain] information about the type of expert. The attorney knows what they’re looking for. We have a very large network, so we talk to the attorney about specifics with the expert because we have, like Dan mentioned, testifying experts. We have experts with university and academic experience. We have experts with industry and hands-on experience. We’ll talk to the attorney after the facts and we’ll say, “What are you looking for in an expert? What kind of experience do they need to have as far as length [of time]? Do you want a new expert? You want an expert that’s been an expert for 10 years? Do you want that expert to have academic and university experience?” A lot of times they want to have that versus the industry expert which is hands-on. [The industry experts are] in the field, they know the things that they’re talking about versus the academic expert. Oftentimes, an attorney will say this expert has to have testifying experience, because there’s a chance that the case will go that far, and you know when you’re sitting in a courtroom and you want to be able to be on the stand and handle questions from both sides. You want to be able to not [be nervous], [be able to] manage your emotions, so to speak. [This is why] we need to find out if they have testifying experience. If not, are they willing to look at other experts that don’t have that, but still have the same qualifications? Those are some important things.
There’s a few other details as well. Oftentimes, a geographical location is important to an attorney. You know they don’t really want to have to fly someone across the country . . . or get somebody [outside] the northeast when the case is there. They’ll want someone from the northeast because they are aware of that culture. They’re aware of the type of jury that’s going to be there. It’s easy to not have to fly them across the country and interview them face-to-face. They know the area [and] they know the culture. Then, there’s another facet to finding experts. We have what’s called a do not contact list. Oftentimes, that is when the attorney is also on the side looking for experts. They might say, “Well, hey, listen, don’t contact this guy or this gal because I’ve already talked to them and they’re not interested, or they’re also conflicted.” Maybe [the expert] knows somebody involved and then it’s an industry thing where, “I can’t help you with this matter.” Or, “I’m actually aware of the defendant.” Or, “I’m aware of the of the plaintiff in the matter.” We want to make sure we’re not contacting people that they’ve already contacted.
I would say lastly, we really focus on [the] expert deadlines. Oftentimes an attorney will say, “Do you have an expert deadline where a disclosure of names is available?” Or, “Is there a report that’s due?” Sometimes the experts will have to provide a report or review an independent medical exam, or something like that. That takes a lot of time for the expert in their research. Then to be able to review that and come up with their own summary of the case. Oftentimes, we want to get that deadline out there, because sometimes it can take two to six months for an expert to draw up a report. Summing all that up, we really want the attorney to know that we’re here to do a lot of this work for [them]. You can focus your time on preparing for the case. Let us handle all the administrative things. We’ll make sure everything is lined up for you and simply just save the attorneys a lot of time.
John Corcoran: David, just reflecting back on this, I’m thinking of how challenging it can be to just book a simple vacation or going out to dinner with your spouse. This seems infinitely more complex than that. You’ve got all these different variables. It also seems [that] for a busy attorney who’s got a lot on their mind, you’re guiding them through the questions and the considerations that maybe they’re not thinking about. Or [it’s] not at the top of [their] mind because this is something that you do every day. It also sounds like you go down a lot of dead ends. You might find someone who seems perfect, but they’re not available. Or they’re not available for a key period, and so, you can’t use them.
David Seeley: Absolutely, that’s very well said and a lot of times with the attorneys they don’t have the time to think about all of those details. That’s where we come in as a benefit, because that’s what we do. We are aware of those details and a lot of times an attorney will say, “I didn’t even think about that. I didn’t even think about a geographical location.” That is very important and there’s so many things on their minds. They just don’t always think about everything. We are ok on our side [doing those] things, going down those rabbit holes. Maybe we’ve talked to five or six experts and we’re getting, “We’re not available . . . we’re not available.” We’re committed to rolling up our sleeves. We’re committed to doing that and continuing to present experts and search for those experts. It really does save time for the attorneys.
John Corcoran: How often, David, in your estimation, does the client or the litigator, the lawyer, the law firm . . . how often do they end up with someone who maybe they wouldn’t have initially thought of through this process? They end up going with a different expert, like maybe they initially thought I want someone from academia’s from impressive university and then they end up using someone from industry or slightly different?
David Seeley: Well, I don’t have an exact number on that, but I do know that it does happen. There are times that an expert is as qualified but doesn’t have the testifying experience. They are a good enough communicator that yes, they can do that. A lot of our experts will say, “Yeah, you know, we don’t have that experience, but we have the knowledge and we’re willing to go ahead, and we can do that. We can testify.” The attorney will have an opportunity to interview them and [get to] know their communication skills as well. [With] some of our experts, we don’t know if the attorney wouldn’t know if they are succinct and are good communicators. They may have all the knowledge in the world, but [communication is] very important, especially in jury trials. You have to make sure that as an expert, you’re able to say what you’re saying and that it’s believable. I think it happens on occasion where you know if a testifying expert isn’t available, that they might consider somebody who doesn’t have that experience.
John Corcoran: I know we’re going to go into talking about the search process, but before we do that, Dan and Brice, I want to loop you into the conversation. Anything that you want to weigh in on or share with regard to the intake processor or questions that should be asked during this initial part of the relationship?
Brice David: What I do is go out and try to find these people. It’s important to talk with the attorney initially. You have to get a grasp on what they’re actually looking for. It’s not always easy to communicate in writing, and I think verbal communication really gives you insights. Especially in the realm that I operate in, which is the IP world (patent cases, trademark, copyrights). Typically, when you’re looking for an expert, to use a cell phone analogy, you’re not looking for the cell phone expert, you’re looking for the guy [who] designed that chip, or that antenna. It’s very specific…By the way, it’s not just in technology, this happens in the financial services. You know you have to have that very specific experience. As a case manager, you have to understand that, because if you don’t understand that, you’re never going to find the right person. There is always an element on our job of learning about these technologies, which, by the way, as an engineer, for me, this is what’s cool about this job is that you’re always doing something new. You’re always learning something new.
John Corcoran: That’s an important distinction, right? To have someone with your kind of background. You have a background in electrical engineering. To have that kind of deep understanding, to have those kinds of deep conversations with the expert, to suss out whether this person knows their stuff or whether they’re going to get flustered and not going to be able to present a cogent argument, especially when it counts.
Brice David: That’s actually where one of my first bosses in [the engineering] industry always said to me, “If you can’t explain to somebody what you’re doing, you don’t understand it.” It’s very important when you talk, because we do . . . we actually have conversations with these experts, [that you make sure they know the content]. There’s no question, these [experts] are an inch wide and a mile deep, and I’m nowhere near that and will never be. We’re more a mile wide and an inch deep, but we are deep enough that we can have an intelligent conversation with them. I’m never going to be the expert in this case, but I can tell if you are. Or I can tell if you are enough that you will be able to answer the kinds of questions that you’ll see come up in these cases. I think that’s an added value we bring. To getting back to the one thing David said about industry versus academia. It is a distinction, and it depends on the technology and it depends on the case. Certain roles play better in certain cases. In certain other cases, you do want people from industry. By the way, people from industry have PhD’s and their qualifications are the same. You can find people with the same qualifications as you can find in academia. A lot of them have even done stints in academia., but what they bring to the table is a historical record. Sometimes that’s important in litigation. You know what was happening 10 years ago? We’re always backwards looking, right? I mean, whenever the patents you’re always looking at, stuff that was done five, six, seven or eight years ago, even in other litigation . . . you’re suing somebody because something that happened a few years ago. It is important sometimes for [experts] to have that historical context because that helps them frame the argument much more.
Dan Rubin: I thought that was a perfect segue, that Brice mentioned in terms of the expert needing historical context. It reminds me of one of the first expert search needs that I discussed with an attorney when I started with Round Table Group [for a] breach of contract case. I’m sorry, it was an insurance case, involving shipyards during World War II. This attorney was looking for an industrial hygienist who could opine as to the safety practices and procedures of those shipyards, specifically, during the World War II era. You talk about historical context. We found expert candidates, and the attorney client retained one of the experts we referred. This was actually not only an academic, but one of those hybrid academic/industry experts that Brice alluded to. It’s that kind of specialization in experts, in their expertise, in their experience, that our expert witness services managers, like Brice, are able to find. Saving, well, forget saving time, the idea of finding the proverbial needle in the haystack — we make it possible.
John Corcoran: Right, it’s not just about saving time, it’s actually finding the expert. The right expert that you need. Actually, it’s harder. If you held a gun to my head, I don’t know if I’d be able to come up with that person in thousand years, right?
Brice David: It is harder. Industry folks are always harder to find. You know, professors publish, and they do research and advertise themselves . . . they put themselves out there. Not all companies let their employees do expert work. Obviously, in some companies, [they] are shy about letting their employees do that. However, you’re typically looking at people who have been in industry longer anyways, because you want that historical context, so that’s less of an issue. But they don’t publish, so unless you have the contacts to be able to dig that out it’ll be difficult. People don’t realize we’ve been working on our database for 25 years and I think it’s pretty darn good, but even then, forty to fifty percent of our cases we have to go find somebody new.
John Corcoran: Yeah, and persuade them . . .
Brice David: Convince them to do this.
John Corcoran: Convince them to do it, yeah, right . . .
Brice David: Because you know, you start off with, “Hey, I’m calling you from a lawyer.” Click.
John Corcoran: I want to get into that [idea] with you, Dan. Will you take us through this? You’ve got teams of expert witness services managers whose job it is to conduct these searches. Essentially, they are finding that needle in the haystack, they’re doing detective work, trying to find that person. Talk a little bit to us about what that looks like on your team.
Dan Rubin: Actually, I think Brice would be the ideal person to answer that since he is the one in the trenches doing that searching. But, from a high level, people on our team like Brice, this is short-changing Brice, but they have an average of 10–plus years in the legal and information services industries. Some are former lawyers, some like Brice are electrical engineers . . .
John Corcoran: With an MBA? I mean, let’s not minimize it. It’s not a summer intern that you ask, “Go Google it and find it.” You have highly qualified people that are doing these searches.
Dan Rubin: Exactly, and so you know, I just have the measly law degree. So, no, but that’s exactly right, John, their experience, not only their background, but their experience is on a daily basis, finding these experts and seeing the types of experts that are not only in our network but outside of our network. Knowing that they exist. Knowing they can be found using the existing relationships that we have. To find those other experts, maybe Brice knows an expert in cell phone technology, who would be perfect, but for the fact that this attorney is looking for some really specialized nuanced [expertise] that expert doesn’t have. Well, that expert that Brice has a relationship with is most likely going to be able to recommend a colleague, right? And, like Brice said, these inquiries are coming from Round Table Group, an expert referral service, and not just any expert referral service, but one that’s been doing this for 25 plus years. They are much quicker, our experts, to respond to our inquiries than from a random inquiry from an attorney. That’s not to disparate attorneys by any means. They tell us that’s why they come to us. That’s why they go to a service like ours.
John Corcoran: Well, it sounds very prestigious to be contacted by the experts on experts. That sounds pretty cool, “The experts on experts is calling me.” I want to get into the search process, Brice and get back to you on that. But first, before we do that, we alluded to it earlier, you have to do a conflict check. What does that look like? We should also point out that not every company does a conflict check, because law firms may have to do it, but expert witness companies like yourselves are not bound, correct?
Brice David: Yeah, actually funny enough, there’s actual rules. Technically we could work both sides of, the same case. Which is crazy when you think about it, and no way our clients would ever go for it. But, there’s no rules. There are two aspects to the conflict check. There’s the conflict check that we do, “OK, hey, can we even help you or we are already working this case?” And by the way, in some areas, especially securities law or patents, the rules are a little bit more strict on conflict. Obviously, we’re going to work cases because that’s what we do, but we’re never going to take a case, for and against. In patents, if the technology is close enough, even if it’s a different case, we won’t take it. Obviously, if you have a cell phone case and an employment case, you know, all bets are off. Those are completely different things. I’m never going to take a case for and against the client, even if it’s two separate cases and the technology is very close, because that gets you into weird areas. One of the things I’ve found kind of humorous is when you see at the end of the day, our people who hired this person, and the other side hired this person, a lot of times you can see they were actually looking for very different things. Even though it’s the same patent, the same case, they’re arguing about the same kind of issues . . . people end up going for very different [experts]. Which is kind of a funny analogy that you see. Sometimes these things happen like that. The conflict check is important, I think, because it establishes confidence with our clients that we’re dedicated to working your case. As you were saying before, one of the things that came up is this relationship. We commit to our experts that we’re never going to release their CV without checking with them first. We’re never going to send it to anybody without their approval. For us, the conflict check is important because we have these conversations with our experts. We’re not just talking in general terms, we’re talking about the case, and we’re saying these are the issues they want to be able to talk to and about, but also, we’re never going release this without your permission. I think when we do contact them, it gives them an assurance that, “Hey, we have something legitimate we want to ask you.” Sometimes it’s a favor, sometimes it’s, “Hey, I don’t think you’re it. Who should I be talking to, because you are in the field, right?” They all know each other, so I think the relationship we have with the experts, especially the experts we work with for a long time, serves us well and serves them well. It’s very symbiotic, but I think it works well because we have some really good relationships.
John Corcoran: Right? Now one of the first steps for you after you get past the conflict check period is to read the complaint which could be hundreds of pages long. To read any related memorandum, to read maybe deposition transcripts . . .
Brice David: We’ll look at, yeah. I mean, that’s rare and appeals . . .
John Corcoran: But reading a patent, maybe?
Brice David: Definitely, you have to read patents. You have to understand that.
John Corcoran: A lot of work going into just a basic level understanding before you even get to the point of then going to the database and searching?
Brice David: Right. And like Dan said, sometimes the do not contact list is, “You can’t talk to anybody at Harvard.” That’s it, the whole school is out. Or if you know anybody officially with them. It’s really random, right? It depends on the on the case, but there are things like that you have to take into account. You have to navigate that because a lot of times the reason you can’t talk with people is because they’re particularly good at this and they’re involved. That’s always a thing with these kinds of cases. A lot of times the people who are the most knowledgeable are the ones that are involved. You have to get as close as possible without crossing that line where you then start in on the conflict side, because experts have conflicts too, right? Beyond us. They also have conflicts they have to take into account, especially experts who have experience because they’re signing protective orders. They’re committing on other cases that they’re going to be careful and not reveal information. Which is also, I think, one of the other reasons that we have that commitment with them that we’re not going to ever release stuff without talking.
John Corcoran: Right. Figuring out exactly what you can say, at what time about the case, how to describe it to the people that you’re talking to? That’s a big part of you know what you do, correct?
Brice David: Which is important. Which is why it’s important to communicate with the attorney initially, to really understand the parameters. A lot of stuff is typically in the public domain, but just because it’s public domain does not mean it’s necessarily sharable in the world without any control over it. You have to communicate. You have to talk to your clients. You have to understand their needs and you have to do your best to serve them that way. I think one of the advantages we have is honestly the fact that we do it so much. We are doing north of 1,500 cases a year. Even if you are like a top-of-the-line attorney, you are going to be looking for experts, what, 345 times a year? Max? Our people do that daily. Just because of that, they develop relationships that is not possible for attorneys to develop, because it’s not their job at the end of the day. That’s not what they do.
John Corcoran: Speaking of relationships, Dan, I want to turn back to you. You’ve been involved with the Round Table Group team, building this network, extensive expert witness network, for many years, and that is a big part of what differentiates you. So, talk a little bit about that network and the different industries that you’ve been involved in.
Dan Rubin: As we’ve said, we’ve been in the industry for 25 plus years. Russ Rosenzweig and Chris Crone and Bob Hull are co-founders and managers . . . leaders of the company. This began as a realization that there was no easy way to find U.S. experts. And so, they combined their backgrounds in business and technology and law and started by searching for the top academic experts in the country. It’s obviously evolved to thousands and thousands of experts in our network in not only academia, but almost the gamut of practice areas and industries. And as you know, it’s just the tip of the iceberg, so when an attorney comes to us and says, “Dan, do you have an expert in this field with this particular nuances? Their expertise or experience? And in this geographical area?” And really, the answer to that question is always, “We may.” But if not, we’ll find them for you. Now, are we successful 100 percent of the time? No. But that’s one of the main reasons why there’s no costs for our service, short of retaining an expert we refer. At the very least, we’ve made the attorney more thorough in their search, but . . .
John Corcoran: Can I just interject?
Dan Rubin: Sure.
John Corcoran: In a sense, you’re putting both your reputation and your money on the line because you’re saying, “If we don’t find anything for you, we’re not getting paid.”
Dan Rubin: Exactly. The extensive time and resources that we’ve invested is for naught. Obviously, we are especially motivated to find the right expert for our clients, not only for us, but more importantly, for our client to be happy and to come back to us. But, also for the expert . . . You know these experts are, of course, hoping to be retained for the particular matter, so that’s exactly right. We are expending those resources, that time and . . . Brice, I think you put it perfectly. You mentioned that you know by the time we found the expert, they’re ready. They are the right expert for you because we’ve assessed their qualifications. I’m going on a bit of a tangent, but part of that process after the conflict check and searching for the experts, of course, is the opportunity for our attorney clients to interview the experts. They’re not simply making a hiring decision based on the expert’s CV. We also include a statement of expertise with every CV that the expert services manager presents, as well as a fee schedule. It’s that interview, where the attorney’s really able to kick the proverbial tires and determine how this person will fare, not only based on their experience and expertise, but also do they sound like they’d be good on the stand? If they are going to be testifying expert, it’s that interview process where they really can truly assess the candidate on their own.
John Corcoran: I want to pause right there because I know we’re running short on time. We’ve covered a lot in one episode. We covered the intake process. We’ve covered why you would work with a company that places an expert for you. We’ve covered your network and a bit of the beginning processes of finding an expert, but I think that there’s more to be said on this, and so I think we’ll pause and do another episode where we can dive deeper into that process and then also take it a little deeper. So, post retention, after the law firm or the lawyer has selected the expert, what if something goes wrong? What if the expert doesn’t work out? Things like this tend to happen when it comes to litigation, right? So [what happens] if that happens as you are getting closer to trial. We’ll dive into those topics as well. Dan, finally, can you just remind all the listeners where can people go to learn more about each of you gentlemen? And also Round Table Group?
Dan Rubin: www.roundtablegroup.com. It has all the information that our attorney clients need to browse our expert network. See Our Team. See specific practice group areas in which we specialize, for instance, our COVID-19 practice area, in which we’ve amassed a specialized group of experts to accommodate the growing COVID-19 litigation needs that our clients are facing. And our blog posts and the podcasts as well.
John Corcoran: Podcasts! There you go so. Great alright, thanks so much, and email as well: firstname.lastname@example.org. Gentlemen, thanks for your time.