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The author is an attorney and managing member of Charles Griffin Intelligence, New York City, and the author of The Art of Fact Investigation: Creative Thinking in the Age of Information Overload (Ignaz Press 2016).
The world is full of private investigators, from the highest-priced white-collar firms staffed by former Central Intelligence Agency officers to boutique outfits run by retired local police.
Still, many lawyers have no idea where to turn if they need fact-finding help. Some have never met an investigator and don’t know where to find one they can trust. Others have used investigators but may have been burned when their fact finders failed to follow instructions.
As in any other profession, there are good investigators and bad, but quality does not always depend on the amount of information an investigator is able to retrieve. Sometimes too much information can come at the expense of ignoring the law and the attorney’s rules of professional ethics. Too little information can also be a problem, leading some investigators to overpromise, while others fail to grasp what kind of information would be most helpful for a complex matter.
The following are five questions to ask any prospective investigator before making a hiring decision.