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Outsourcing Expert Witnesses?

Medical expert testimony for litigation doesn't come cheap in the United States, with expert fees costing as much as $1,000 an hour. But now, lawyers have found that they can solve the problem of high expert costs in the same way that they deal with other high costs: through outsourcing and offshoring. As this article states, US Lawyer Finds Medical Experts in India (7/12/07), U.S. lawyer Dorothy Clay Sims has started using medical experts in India for help in legal cases:

Sims has reduced [medical expert costs] by hiring medical experts in India for a fraction of the price, and she makes the service available to other American lawyers through an Internet-based business called MD in a Box. The U.S. lawyers pay $90 an hour for the medical consulting.  The process works through a real-time link to an Indian doctor by computer. Sims describes a typical case in which a U.S. orthopedic surgeon disputes her client's claims in an American courtroom.

"I have my computer with me, and my doctor in India is listening to the orthopedic surgeon the whole time, through a microphone plugged into my laptop," said Dorothy Clay Sims. "He is then sending me instant messages saying, "that is not true. It is actually such and such or so and so." And I look down at my screen and I will just say exactly what the doctor said from India."

Offshoring medical consulting sounds like a great idea. At a minimum, the availability of lower-cost service could perhaps introduce some competition to the expert industry and put a little downward pressure on rates. And low-cost medical testimony up front could give lawyers more information early on about the viability of case, perhaps leading to early settlements. Of course, there are also  practical hurdles. For example,  would you videotape a deposition with the doctor -- or could you outsource the entire deposition process to lawyers in India? And I guess you'd have to submit the video deposition in court. 

For a round-up of recent IT outsourcing developments by firm, see this post by Ron Friedmann.

Posted by Carolyn Elefant on July 13, 2007 at 07:05 PM | Permalink | Comments (4)


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