The following document is a sample engagement letter for an expert witnesses who wants a less formal alternative to a more standard contract for services.
As an example, this letter contains provisions that may not be suitable for all experts. It is the responsibility of any person who utilizes this document to verify that the provisions are consistent with the laws of the jurisdictions in which services will be rendered.
Expert witnesses have considerable flexibility in the setting of fees:
- Some experts bill based upon the time it takes them to perform services.
- Some experts work on a straight hourly basis.
- Some experts prefer to charge by the day or half-day for services such as depositions or appearances at trial.
- Many experts charge a per diem fee for time spent traveling to a remote location. Some experts who are in very high demand may even bill 24 hours per day for times during which they are required to travel.
- Some experts increase their hourly rate for time spent giving actual testimony, whether at deposition or at trial, while others maintain a consistent hourly rate for all services rendered.
Similarly, there is great variation in how experts treat expenses. For example, experts who communicate with their clients primarily through email and exchange of electronic documents may not find it worthwhile to bill for individual photocopies, and the cost of occasional copies may be subsumed by the expert's hourly fee. However, where significant quantities of paper copies will be required, or where international long distance rates or shipping rates may apply, it may make sense to bill separately for those expenses.
Dear Lawyer's Name , This letter confirms that you have retained me to represent you in connection with the following matter:
Pursuant to our agreement, I will provide services to you as an independent professional. Payment to me for the services I provide is not dependent upon my findings, nor on the outcome of any legal action, mediation, arbitration, or the amount or terms of any settlement of the underlying legal cause, nor on any contractual arrangement between you and any other person or party.
My minimum non-refundable engagement fee for services is Fee Amount Dollars, which shall be due at the time you sign this letter and return it to me. Billings for services performed or expenses incurred shall be charged against the engagement fee until such time as it is exhausted. You may not identify me as either a testifying or non-testifying expert until such time as the engagement fee has been paid.
You agree to compensate me for services rendered as follows:
Fees for my services: Except as outlined herein, I shall be paid by you at the rate of $Hourly Rate per hour for all tasks performed under this agreement, including but not limited to analysis, calculations, conclusions, preparation of reports, and necessary travel time. Fees will be billed by the tenth of an hour, with a minimum charge for any discrete task of two tenths of an hour. For testimony at deposition or trial, I shall be paid at the rate of $Hourly Rate per hour, to be billed in hourly increments. This rate for testimony shall apply both while I am waiting to give testimony, whether at an office or court, and for time taken for breaks or meals, as well as for time spent actually giving testimony.
Investigator Fees: At times, I may require the assistance of my investigator, Investigator's Name. You will reimburse me at the rate of $Hourly Rate per hour for services performed by my investigator, with fees to be billed by the tenth of an hour.
Graphic Design and Exhibit Preparation: You also agree to reimburse me for time spent preparing graphics or exhibits at the rate of $Hourly Rate per hour, regardless of who performs the associated services. In the event that I outsource the preparation of graphics or exhibits, you shall reimburse me for the actual cost of the outsourced services, plus a five percent (5%) handling fee; however, the fee for outsourced services shall not exceed the rate of $Hourly Rate per hour without your approval. The fees outlined in this paragraph do not include the cost of materials. You agree to reimburse me for expenses as follows:
Travel by Car: Mileage Charge cents per mile;
Travel by Air or Train: The actual cost of the round-trip ticket, plus a ten percent (10%) handling fee.
Expenses associated with photography, reproduction of documents and photographs, preparation of exhibits, storage of materials or evidence, and other reasonable expenditures shall be reimbursed at market rates.
Lodging: For any travel of more than eighty (80) miles from my office, I shall be reimbursed for the cost of meals and lodging, plus a ten percent (10%) handling fee.
Car Rental: In the event of travel beyond the local area, I shall be reimbursed for the cost of a mid-sized rental car and any associated expenses, plus a ten percent (10%) handling fee.
Unless you otherwise instruct, or unless refundable tickets are not available, I will purchase refundable tickets for any necessary travel. Should you request that I purchase non-refundable tickets in order to travel at a lower cost, or if refundable tickets are not available, you shall reimburse me for the cost of any non-refundable ticket at the rate outlined herein whether or not the ticket is used.
You may avoid the ten percent handling fee associated with certain travel expenses by arranging to directly purchase round-trip travel tickets on my behalf, and by arranging for the direct payment of any car rental expense, lodging, and meal expenses by your office.
You have had the opportunity to investigate and verify my credentials, and you agree that I am qualified to perform the services described in this contract.
You are responsible for all payments as outlined in this contract, regardless of any arrangement you may have with any party or parties you represent. I will issue bills on a monthly basis, or whatever other interval I deem appropriate. Bills are due on receipt, and shall be considered delinquent if unpaid more than thirty days after their date of issuance. Interest shall accrue to any delinquent balance at the maximum rate permitted by law, not to exceed $Percentage percent per month. In the event that a bill remains unpaid for sixty or more days after the date of issuance, I shall have the unrestricted right to resign from performing additional services for the you and your firm on any and all cases that I am working on for your firm.
This agreement shall be interpreted under the laws of the State of State. Any litigation under this agreement shall be resolved in the trial courts of County County, State of State.
Your signature below represents your agreement with the terms set forth herein. Please return a signed copy of this letter to my office, along with the required engagement fee. Sincerely,
Expert's Typed Name.
I accept the terms of this agreement:
Lawyer's Typed Name, Client-Attorney.