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Sell Yourself As Expert Witness

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I discovered a niche as an expert witness in employment law cases. Specifically, I helped companies defend themeselves against wrongful termination lawsuits. That's a case where the plaintiff alleges they were released unfairly. I enjoyed those cases at first, because they were high-paying. The attorney sent me a file box of records, depositions, and I was paid an hourly rate to read them to understand the case. Then I prepared reports on the employability of the plaintiff. I enjoyed that part, too.

What I didn't enjoy was appearing in court to testify against someone who'd been fired. Many times, the company had handled things badly, even horribly.

I was disillusioned in court when an ex-employee who was hired at age 55, sued for age discrimination when he was terminated (his company closed their local office and had offered him a job elsewhere) and won a $1.6 million settlement.

Another consultant in my firm regretted not having been a lawyer. He loved these cases, left CareerLab, and created a full-time consulting practice working for attorneys. I returned to doing what I love: career strategy consulting.

Letters like these produced lots of assignments.

December 19, 20—

Ms. Karen Caggiano
Attorney at Law
Writer & Leadingham
370 18th Street, Suite 2750
Denver, Colorado  80202-5644

Dear Karen,

Wendell Hartt told me you need an expert witness to testify in an upcoming case. I tried to reach you by phone to get further details, but missed you.

I'm sending two resumes:  mine and Wendell Hartt's. Either of us could serve as your expert.  In the past few years, we have worked on approximately six employment law cases as expert witnesses.  I've prepared several written reports and testified in Houston once.  Wendell was deposed in New Jersey, and that case is still pending.  I'm presently working on a big case pending in Kansas City.  I don't have a list of past cases, but I can prepare one in the next few days.

Our fee is $175 per hour, and we generally ask for a $2500 retainer.  If those terms don't work for you, please let me know.

I'm leaving the office in the next few minutes for a consulting assignment offsite. I'll call you in the morning to be sure you received this fax, and to ask how you would like to proceed.

Very truly yours,

William S. Frank

P.S.—If this is an emergency, please call my cell phone at 303-555-1212 until 4:00.

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William S. Frank, M.A.,
25 Reasons I love consulting.
by William S. Frank
  1. Brand. You are your own brand, and you can define it any way you want. For many years, I provided outplacement to the ex-employees of Schlumberger, the world's largest oilfield service corporation. When departing employees left the company, they didn't request outplacement in their severance package. They said, "I want Bill Frank."
  2. Demand. The world will always be full of terrible problems that need solving.
  3. White Hat. I can be a helper and get paid for it.
  4. Pay. I can be paid to do things I'd gladly do for nothing.
  5. Variety. Every day is different.
  6. Happiness. At this stage of my career, I only work for people I respect and care about. If a client micromanages me or is otherwise no fun, I complete the assignment and replace them.
  7. Talent. I'm using 110% of my talents and stretching myself to the max.
  8. Change. I can change my focus any day I want. If you're a McDonald's franchisee, you don't say, "Hey, I've got this great idea for a meatball sandwich—let's try it out today." In consulting you can adjust your focus hour-by-hour, as long as your clients still understand and appreciate what you do.
  9. Income. No one else would pay me as much as I pay myself.
  10. FUN. I can't think of anything I'd rather be doing.
  11. Retirement. I can write and consult as long as I am physically and mentally capable. Peter Drucker worked into his 90s, and when asked which book was his best, he said: "My next one."
  12. Job Security. Although clients come and go, no one can come into my office and say, "Pack up your stuff . . . You don't work here anymore." In 29 years, I've only had one employer: ME.
  13. Travel. I don't have to travel unless I decide to. I travel if it's both FUN and profitable—or at least FUN.
  14. Commute. I live five minutes from my office, a corner office in an upscale six-story tower. In winter, I leave a heated garage at home and drive to an underground heated garage at work. There's seldom time to hear even one song on the radio.
  15. Vacation. Consulting is more fun than vacation (except on Wailea Beach in Maui).
  16. Friends. I have developed hundreds of close acquaintances and several lifetime friends.
  17. Time. I can work as much or as little as I like: four-hour days or 18-hour days. (Of course, my income will reflect that.)
  18. Employees. I can work with employees, subcontractors, partners, or alone—I've done it all.
  19. Passive Income. I've developed several products that provide "mailbox money." I earn while I'm sleeping.
  20. Ethics. I've never had to violate my values or personal code of ethics. I've never had to lie, purposely deceive or harm others, or promise things I can't deliver. I go to bed with a clear conscience. That doesn't mean there's never any conflict. But the conflict is conducted according to generally accepted business practices.
  21. Virtual. My career is fairly portable. With the Internet, e-mail, cell phone, and FedEx, I can work nationally, even internationally from my office—or anywhere in the world.
  22. Purpose. I make a difference in peoples' lives every day. I see it in their faces, hear it in their voices, and read it in their thank-yous.
  23. Experience. Every painful or joyful life experience makes me a better consultant. So does every person I meet or book I read. Grey hair can be good in consulting.
  24. Structure. I have to work very hard, and the clients expect superb results—but I get to structure my days, weeks, months, and years.
  25. Boss. Most of the time, I love my boss.
As I was posting these letters online, I realized I want to communicate my love for consulting. It's just a great business. The single letters, taken together, may create a picture of enjoyment, but in a burst of creativity I listed some of the reasons consulting is such a good fit for me—and perhaps for you, too. They are not prioritized; this is just how they came out.