April 13, 2021

International Forensic Investigations—Practice Management and Tips

Alexander Walther, Robert Gray, Melissa Ho, and Emma Cecil – September 19, 2016

Note: This is the third of a three-part series of summary articles from the American Bar Association (ABA) White Collar Crime Subcommittee that will address some of the key issues when offering forensic investigation services that arise in providing services to clients with international operations (or who may be considering an international expansion). This article will focus on practice management tips on how to efficiently and effectively perform international investigations, specifically focusing on:

• Pricing considerations,
• Information Technology (IT) considerations,
• Language considerations, and
• Expert/Specialist considerations.

Pricing Considerations
International investigations can be exceedingly difficult to price appropriately. Not only do you have the normal pricing challenges of domestic investigations, you have to consider international travel costs, travel time, specialist costs (e.g., translators, security, experts, etc.), and many others. The key in pricing these matters is to put in the time necessary to scope the project and be proactive with your client. In our experience, breaking the matter into phases or chunks can be a best practice to manage client expectations and costs. By using these “Phase Estimates,” we have been able to resolve cost issues with clients ahead of time and have tempered their expectations so that they do not have sticker shock when they receive their bill. Some might argue that by managing a project this way, you are simply moving an uncomfortable fee conversation from the end of the project to the beginning. This thought process does not consider the positive impact on your client by being transparent and upfront. Chances are your client will appreciate your proactive and thorough approach and will be more likely to hire you again on the next investigation.

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