Expand Your Consulting Footprint
I’ve sat in the witness chair as a real estate expert many times over the years. It’s nerve-wracking, but it is also fun and fascinating. My partner in our commercial firm says there is something wrong with me because I enjoy it so much.
Consider that something you wrote in an appraisal report six months ago is being discussed now and what you wrote back then is not subject to edits. You have to live with what you wrote. I think the quality of appraisals in the U.S. would improve substantially if all appraisers had to sit in that chair early in their career and have to answer to all the B.S. they piled into their report.
When you sit in that chair and are sworn in to testify, there is no going back. You are answerable to no one but the truth.
Sadly many of my peers run away from the opportunity of testimony. Or perhaps that fear makes it more lucrative for those that are willing to testify. It can be a worthy alternative to generic bank appraisals and provides absolute clarity on how non-appraisers, especially adversaries, can interpret (twist) your results and how you conveyed them to the report reader. My favorite clients have long been lawyers because of how they think. It is a strategy exercise like playing chess.
- Always get paid for your report before you deliver the result and hopefully at engagement. Always get paid in advance for your court appearance with the understanding that any overage in time will be paid for immediately after the appearance. Don’t block out a bunch of availability dates unless you have been paid so you livelihood is impacted by a false promise or change in their needs.
- One of the most important things I’ve learned is to simply answer the question. No embellishment. Remember that opposing counsel will ask you incomplete questions, fish when they don’t know what they are looking for and try to trip you up anyway they can if you are a threat to their client. They’re doing their job so you want to prepare and do yours.
- You are auditioning for more work. One of the greatest compliments I can get is when I am hired by opposing counsel for a new matter.
- Remember that you are the expert and you are not guilty of anything. This sounds trite but that is what runs through the minds of those new to this. Your job is to express your opinion and to do it in a way that is credible and conveys it clearly.
- If you don’t know the answer, then say “I don’t know” – its ok if you don’t know the answer.
With Fannie and Freddie working hard to automate and the whole world jazzed about evaluations and oblivious to the long term decline in reliability that the now terrified bond market expects, expand your consulting footprint. Legal support services are a great way to start.