If you are an attorney seeking to engage the services of an investigator, it is imperative to be cognizant of common pitfalls that are frequently encountered during the hiring process. This article delineates the key errors that should be sidestepped, ranging from failing to engage in direct communication with the investigator to neglecting to validate crucial credentials and licenses.

Upcoming sections will provide insights on establishing lucid communication channels, verifying the legitimacy of credentials, and defining budgetary parameters. By heeding this advice, one can ensure a streamlined hiring process that aligns with their requirements and expectations. Do not overlook the significance of selecting the right investigator to meet your specific needs.

Key Takeaways:

Key Takeaways:

  • Speak directly with the investigator to establish clear communication and expectations.
  • Avoid hiring an investigator without relevant experience or specialized skills.
  • Do thorough research, verify credentials, and check references before making a decision to hire.

Common Mistakes Attorneys Make When Hiring an Investigator and How to Avoid Them

Legal professionals frequently encounter various challenges when engaging the services of a private investigator (PI) for legal inquiries, resulting in inefficiencies and potential obstacles in their cases. These challenges encompass neglecting to verify the investigator’s credentials, failing to establish clear communication protocols, and underestimating the significance of specialized expertise.

1. Not Speaking Directly to the Investigator

One of the most critical errors an attorney may commit is failing to establish direct communication with the private investigator they are considering for hire.

Establishing clear channels of communication between the attorney and the private investigator holds significant importance for several reasons. Through direct dialogue, the attorney can acquire a more profound comprehension of the investigator’s strategies, methodologies, and expertise, thereby ensuring alignment with the specific requirements of the legal case. Effective communication cultivates rapport and trust, which are fundamental elements for a fruitful partnership. Agencies such as Barefoot Professional Investigations underscore the utilization of communication tools like secure online portals, encrypted messaging applications, and regular progress updates to ensure clients are well-informed and engaged throughout the investigative process.

2. Difficulty in Communication and Scheduling

Effective communication and scheduling play a critical role in the successful outcome of legal cases that necessitate the involvement of a private investigator. Clear and consistent communication is essential to ensure that all relevant parties are aligned and can collaborate harmoniously towards the mutual objective of efficiently resolving the case.

The integration of contemporary communication tools, such as encrypted messaging platforms, secure file sharing systems, and video conferencing software, can significantly improve the communication process. These tools facilitate swift updates and seamless information exchange, enhancing the overall efficiency of the investigative process.

In the absence of reliable communication channels, crucial details may be overlooked, resulting in misunderstandings and investigative delays. Such impediments can impede the advancement of the investigation, underscoring the essential role of effective communication practices in legal cases involving private investigators.

3. Hiring an Investigator without Relevant Experience

Engaging the services of a private investigator lacking pertinent experience in the specific legal context can significantly undermine the efficiency of the investigation. When an investigator lacks the requisite expertise in the pertinent area of law, crucial details may be overlooked, resulting in incomplete findings and potentially detrimental ramifications for the client’s legal matter.

Specialization plays a crucial role in navigating the intricacies of diverse legal issues, be it fraud, infidelity, or corporate investigations, as each necessitates a distinct array of investigative competencies and knowledge. Choosing a generic, one-size-fits-all approach to hiring an investigator may yield substandard results that fail to address the nuanced necessities of the particular case at hand.

4. Choosing a One-Size-Fits-All Investigator

4. Choosing a One-Size-Fits-All Investigator

Choosing a universal investigator can frequently result in unsatisfactory outcomes, as distinct skills are essential for various types of legal cases.

For instance, in the realm of financial crimes, a forensic accountant with expertise in tracing money trails and detecting discrepancies can substantially enhance the probability of revealing evidence. Likewise, in matters necessitating digital forensics, a proficient specialist adept at recovering data from electronic devices can offer crucial insights.

Aligning the precise skills of an investigator with the distinctive requirements of a case can enhance the efficiency and efficacy of the investigative process, thereby yielding more successful results in legal proceedings.

5. Engaging an Unlicensed Investigator

Hiring an unlicensed investigator can result in legal issues and questionable outcomes.

It is essential to verify the investigator’s licensing status through reputable organizations such as the Bureau of Security and Investigative Services and the Department of Consumer Affairs in California to confirm that you are engaging with a professional who adheres to industry norms. Opting for an unlicensed investigator not only increases the chances of obtaining unreliable information but also opens the door to potential fraudulent activities or unethical behavior. Licensed investigators are bound by specific ethical and legal guidelines, offering a layer of accountability and safeguarding that is lacking when working with unlicensed practitioners.

6. Not Conducting Sufficient Background Research

Failure to conduct adequate background research on a private investigator may lead to the engagement of an individual who lacks the necessary qualifications or suitability for the task at hand.

It is imperative to emphasize the importance of comprehensive background checks when enlisting the services of a private investigator to ascertain their qualifications and experience levels.

Through the examination of referrals and testimonials, valuable insights can be gleaned regarding the investigator’s dependability and historical performance.

Diligent evaluation of their prior cases and client satisfaction rates can significantly influence the efficacy of the investigative process.

Allocating time to authenticate the investigator’s credentials and standing within the industry will ultimately culminate in a more efficient and prosperous outcome for your investigative needs.

7. Ignoring Specialized Skills and Expertise

Disregarding the specialized skills and expertise of a private investigator can significantly diminish the quality and efficacy of an investigation.

For example, the renowned former FBI Agent, James K. Ellis, is widely recognized for his exceptional proficiency in cybercrime investigations, rendering him a highly sought-after professional for cases involving online fraud or hacking. Similarly, Sarah T. Reynolds, a forensic accountant, possesses a unique aptitude for identifying financial irregularities, thereby proving essential in matters concerning financial fraud or embezzlement.

By aligning the investigator’s competencies with the specific requirements of the case, the likelihood of a successful resolution is markedly enhanced. This strategic approach ensures a comprehensive exploration of all pertinent angles, leaving no aspect unaddressed.

9. Failing to Establish Clear Communication Channels and Expectations

Failure to establish clear communication channels and expectations can result in misunderstandings and inefficiencies during the investigation process. It is imperative to set up effective communication channels to ensure a successful collaboration among all parties involved.

  1. Regular check-ins or meetings should be scheduled to discuss progress, address challenges, and ensure alignment among team members.
  2. The utilization of tools such as project management software or communication platforms can streamline the exchange of information and updates.
  3. Fostering an open-door policy where team members are encouraged to express their ideas and concerns can cultivate a culture of transparency and trust.
  4. Clearly defining roles, responsibilities, and timelines from the outset is essential to prevent confusion in the future.

10. Neglecting to Verify Investigator’s Credentials and Licenses

10. Neglecting to Verify Investigator's Credentials and Licenses

Failure to validate the credentials and licenses of a private investigator may lead to the engagement of an individual lacking the necessary qualifications or trustworthiness.

To mitigate such risks, individuals are advised to proactively verify the legitimacy of a private investigator before enlisting their services. One crucial approach is to reference official sources such as the Bureau of Security and Investigative Services and the Department of Consumer Affairs in California. These regulatory bodies maintain current records of licensed professionals, enabling prospective clients to authenticate the investigator’s credentials. By investing time in this verification procedure, one can shield themselves from potential fraudulent activities or inadequacies, ultimately ensuring the engagement of a dependable and proficient investigator to address their requirements.

11. Rushing the Hiring Process

Hastily conducting the hiring process often leads to the selection of an investigator who may not be the optimal match for the legal case. It is imperative to allocate sufficient time for comprehensive research and due diligence, as this approach can substantially mitigate the risks associated with impulsive decision-making. Through a meticulous examination of the qualifications, experience, and performance history of potential investigators, there is an increased probability of identifying a professional who possesses the specific skills and expertise essential for the case at hand.

A well-structured hiring process facilitates the effective comparison of candidates, thereby ensuring the selection of an individual who not only meets the established criteria but also aligns with the values and objectives of the legal team.

12. Not Setting Clear Budgetary Guidelines

Failure to establish clear budgetary guidelines can result in unexpected costs and financial difficulties throughout the investigation process. It is imperative to define a comprehensive budget and financial strategy prior to engaging the services of an investigator.

An effective approach to cost management involves addressing fee structures at the outset to guarantee mutual understanding of the financial terms. Negotiating fees based on the projected scope of work and anticipated results can assist in managing expenses. Maintaining transparent communication with the investigator concerning budgetary limitations and consistently monitoring financial reports during the investigation can also facilitate financial adherence.

13. Disregarding the Investigator’s Track Record and Success Rate

Failure to consider the track record and success rate of a private investigator may lead to hiring an individual who does not meet the desired objectives. Conducting a thorough review of an investigator’s past performance and success rate in similar cases provides valuable insights into their capabilities and reliability. Evaluating their history of effectively and efficiently solving cases allows for an assessment of their expertise level and suitability for specific requirements. This data facilitates an knowledge-based decision making process, ensuring the selection of an investigator with a proven track record of achieving results and who can be relied upon to handle the case with professionalism and precision.

14. Avoiding a Trial Assignment or Test Project

Avoiding a trial assignment or test project may hinder attorneys from conducting a comprehensive evaluation of a private investigator’s skills and capabilities. This initial phase offers a valuable opportunity to observe the investigator’s approach to tasks, communication of findings, and handling of challenges. By undertaking a small-scale project initially, attorneys can gain insights into the investigator’s methodology, attention to detail, and overall competency.

A trial assignment facilitates the establishment of clear expectations and objectives, ensuring alignment between the investigator and the attorney’s goals. This preliminary evaluation not only assists in assessing the investigator’s suitability for the specific case but also cultivates a collaborative and productive working relationship.

Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

What are some common mistakes attorneys make when hiring an investigator?

Some common mistakes attorneys make when hiring an investigator include not thoroughly researching the investigator’s credentials and experience, not clearly defining the scope of the investigation, and not setting a clear budget for the investigation.

How can attorneys avoid these mistakes when hiring an investigator?

To avoid these mistakes, attorneys should thoroughly research the investigator’s background, ask for references and previous case experience, clearly define the scope of the investigation, and have a detailed discussion about budget and fees before hiring.

Why is it important for attorneys to research an investigator’s credentials and experience?

Researching an investigator’s credentials and experience is important to ensure they have the necessary skills and knowledge to handle the specific case at hand. It also helps to verify their credibility and reliability as an investigator.

What are the consequences of not setting a clear budget for an investigation?

Not setting a clear budget for an investigation can lead to unexpected costs and fees, which can strain the attorney’s budget and potentially affect the outcome of the case. It is important to discuss and agree upon a budget with the investigator beforehand.

How can a clearly defined scope of investigation benefit both the attorney and the investigator?

A clearly defined scope of investigation benefits both parties by ensuring that the investigator knows exactly what is expected of them and can focus their efforts on gathering relevant information. This also helps to avoid any misunderstandings or disputes down the line.

Why is communication an important factor in avoiding mistakes when hiring an investigator?

Communication is essential in any professional relationship, and the attorney-investigator relationship is no exception. Clear and ongoing communication can help to prevent mistakes and ensure that the investigation runs smoothly and efficiently.


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Stillinger Investigations, Inc.
1416 Park Street
Columbia, SC 29201
(803) 400-1974

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Stillinger Investigations, Inc.
331 East Main Street Suite 200
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Stillinger Investigations, Inc.
203 West Main Street Suite G6
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1203 48th Ave N Ste 201
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(843) 492-2999

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Stillinger Investigations, Inc.
170 Meeting Street
Charleston, SC 29401
(843) 212-1338


Stillinger Investigations is the Best Private Investigator in Columbia SC! Brian Stillinger is the owner of one of the most prominent private investigation companies in South Carolina.
At Stillinger Investigations, we have 125+ years of combined investigative experience and a diverse team with a wide range of backgrounds and qualifications.
We are a private investigation team focusing on adultery, child custody, insurance fraud, civil litigation and criminal defense investigations. With 12 full-time, licensed investigators, we provide prompt, thorough, dependable service to attorneys, insurance companies and individual clients throughout the Southeast US. We maintain a full range of technical and surveillance equipment, including specialize
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