Due to custom and convenience, some law firms still depend on expensive databases for their research. And while for years this has been sufficient, the costs to access these databases now outweigh the benefits.
Each case has its own set of problems and expectations, but no matter the situation, each one will require an abundance of careful research. Sometimes a simple public records search is need and other times a comprehensive background investigation will be needed.
The ability to negotiate effectively and win a case rests on thorough, up-to-date research and with databases like Westlaw, IRB Accurint or LexisNexis lawyers can’t always get the full picture. Since 2005 for instance, due to political pressure, Westlaw discontinued full Social Security access to most of its subscribers. Also, when attorneys need criminal records, for instance, they may find an inflexible index system due mainly because different states and local governments maintain records in differing ways.
In situations like these, where indexing systems vary from state to state, law firms may need the personal assistance of a, licensed, professional investigation firm like Santoni Worldwide that has a working knowledge and understanding of the records system and has working relationships with onsite court researchers.
And these online research services have gotten more expensive while a law firm’s ability to recover the costs through client billing have diminished. Most firms negotiate annual plans. Less expensive plans limit access to certain states and court districts and if there’s a need for information outside of the plan then, of course, out-of-plan fees get tacked on.
Clients are savvier consumers now and don’t want to pay research fees for something that seems like their lawyers should automatically pay on their own. More and more, firms are absorbing database fees into their overhead or, if possible, they try to recoup costs in the attorney fee award.
Santoni’s experienced investigators work with law firms regularly. They are familiar with the varying records offices nationwide and have working relationships with court runners, records researchers, and librarians. Additionally, the subscribe to several of the best commercial databases that provide national coverage, full social security numbers and dates of birth. When conducting specific searches they work with court runners to limit the documents that pertain to the specific subject. Attorneys not only need evidence but they need the supporting investigative material to back it up, and Santoni delivers comprehensive reports and documentation to help them win.
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