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What Is Forensic Litigation Support?

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  • Written By: C. Mitchell
  • Edited By: John Allen
  • Last Modified Date: 06 June 2019
  • Copyright Protected:
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    Conjecture Corporation
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Forensic litigation support is professional consulting that external specialists provide to law firms preparing for trial. Support comes in many forms, from help with e-discovery to the selection of expert witnesses. The bulk of what forensic litigation support teams do is help get a law firm’s data and information into the right format for trial. Litigation support basically acts as behind-the-scenes assistance for lawyers who are working to put on a trial. The legal strategy of any case is always up to the lawyers, but once that strategy is set, the support staff do all they can to help see the case through to completion.

Preparing for trial can be a very complicated endeavor. Not only must lawyers craft arguments and research the supporting law, but they also must prepare all of the proper court filings, comply with e-discovery rules and mandates, and select and vet expert witnesses, among other things. Large firms often employ permanent litigation support staff who provide administrative backup services to lawyers in the midst of a lawsuit. For particularly complicated cases, however, outside forensic litigation support groups are sometimes retained.

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In law, the word “forensic” means, simply, “suitable for court.” The main goal of forensic litigation support services is to take a firm’s litigation materials and get them ready for trial. In many respects, the job is purely administrative, but requires a sound understanding of local court rules and requirements. The support staff format, file, sort, and bind important documents related to a wide variety of lawsuits.

Depending on the nature of the case, a litigation support team might also include a forensic accountant. Forensic accountants analyze financial records and business expense documents in order to get them ready for trial. Usually this involves converting files, charts, and figures into a form suitable to be entered into a court record as evidence.

Some investigation might also be required. Forensic litigation support services frequently help lawyers do research into parties’ financial histories and the terms of such things as past divorces or bankruptcy filings. They also might with discovery, where allowed. Some jurisdictions will only permit licensed attorneys to participate in discovery.

Forensic litigation support often also involves locating expert witnesses. Courts typically allow parties to present witnesses who are experts in a certain nuanced discipline — medicine, for example, or best practices in a particular business — to express their professional opinions on a given piece of evidence. If lawyers think that an expert witness might help their case, they might ask the litigation support group to locate a few possibilities. No forensic litigation support staff can actually contribute to the substance of any case, so the ultimate selection of an expert witness has to be up to the lawyers in charge. Still, help with narrowing down the selection pool can be invaluable, and can save a lot of time.

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