Lawyers know that litigation, large and small, usually requires the assistance of a variety of non-lawyer vendors, service providers and consultants. These non-legal professionals can be the testifying or consulting experts who clarify technical aspects of the case. They can also be litigation service providers, such as the vendors that host your electronic data, or the court reporters who transcribe depositions. When our relationships with them are at their best, experts and service providers are essential partners. When these relationships go wrong, they cause headaches. There are three fundamentals to vendor relations: defining the terms of the relationship, managing costs and optimizing information flow.
1. Retainer agreements
3. Information flow
The most conservative, privilege-conscious lawyers prefer not to have any communications with consultants and experts in writing. While this may shield attorney work product from discovery, it isn’t always practical and can stifle the flow of necessary information. Email is useful for routine conversations with experts and consultants and is perfectly acceptable for most communication with litigation service providers. Most lawyers engage in email communications, even with testifying experts, because the convenience and other benefits outweigh the risks of having to potentially produce the communications in the future. Even if you are rightfully concerned about the use of email and other written correspondence, recall that there are a range of secure communications options such as portals and SharePoint sites that allow you to share documents and objective, factual information without revealing your core litigation strategy.