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Legal Investigators: Expertise and Ethics for a Better Private Investigation Process

published April 08, 2023

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( 410 votes, average: 4.7 out of 5)
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Legal investigators provide a valuable service to lawyers and private citizens by conducting investigations that require knowledge of the law and individual ethical behavior. Legal investigators, also known as private eyes, are certified professionals who do more than just look at the facts of a case; they examine the law to uncover evidence and pertinent information that may influence the outcome of the case.

Private eyes conduct research and investigations on the facts and information related to a case to uncover evidence that may not be easily discovered by attorneys. They are reliable, ethical and qualified experts in the field of law, who can assist lawyers in the investigation and preparation of their cases.

The expertise and knowledge of legal investigators make them invaluable assets in the field of law. They can provide information and insights that attorneys may not be able to obtain on their own. Private eyes have access to databases and resources that are not accessible to attorneys, enabling them to find the information needed for a case. Private eyes also have the ability to question witnesses and obtain documents that may be difficult for attorneys to access.

Legal investigators are hired by attorneys to help them prepare their cases. They provide the legal expertise to uncover evidence, interview witnesses, examine documents, and gather facts that can help a case. Private eyes must adhere to a strict code of ethics and maintain confidentiality. They are also expected to provide independent and objective opinions about the case.

Private eyes can be used in various types of proceedings, including criminal cases, civil litigation, and family law. They can also provide assistance in other areas of the law, such as probate, real estate, and bankruptcy. Their skills and expertise are invaluable to attorneys and private citizens seeking justice in legal proceedings.

Legal investigators are an important part of the legal system. Their professionalism, expertise and ethical behavior enable them to provide valuable services to attorneys and private citizens. They bring knowledge, experience and resources to the field of law, making them critical to the success of a case.

Introduction to Legal Investigators

The field of legal investigation is an often-overlooked part of the legal profession. Over the years, the role of the legal investigator has become increasingly recognized as an important and necessary role in the law. These professionals bring together their investigative skills, experience, and expertise to work with investigators and lawyer alike, to assist in the pursuit of justice.

Building a Legal Team

Most law firms look to hire legal investigators to build a stronger legal team. By focusing on the investigative aspects of a case, legal investigators can obtain evidence and help develop a profound understanding of the case. It is the investigator's responsibility to collect data and make sure that the evidence is accurate and well-preserved. Their research and findings can be invaluable to a law firm's success.

The Qualities of Legal Investigators

To be a successful legal investigator, several qualities are necessary. They include interpersonal communication skills, excellent problem solving skills, strong organizational and analytical skills, patience, and the ability to be detail-oriented. Legal investigators must also have a working knowledge of the law and understand legal terms and procedures.

Ethics and Professionalism in Legal Investigation

Legal investigators must adhere to a strict code of ethics and must remain professional in all aspects of their work. In addition, they must possess a good understanding of ethical standards and understand the importance of remaining objective in all cases. Legal investigators must also be aware of the ethical implications of the scope of their investigation and the need to protect confidential information.

Certification and Licensing Requirements

Many states require legal investigators to obtain certification or licensing in order to practice in the field. Before a legal investigator is allowed to work on a case, they must demonstrate that they possess the understanding of ethical and legal principles and understand the need for discretion and confidentiality. Additionally, legal investigators must have a thorough knowledge of the laws in their respective state and must also be familiar with the rules of evidence that apply to their particular case.

When attorneys need the facts, and nothing but the facts, they often don't go hunting for those facts alone: they hire legal investigators, choice experts who specialize in gathering information and interviewing witnesses in connection with pending or possible suits.
Not Your Average Private Eye: Legal Investigators Bring Expertise and Ethics to the Field

(Legal investigators) usually focus on one of two avenues,'' said Robert Townsend, sole practitioner at R.H. Townsend Associates and National Director of the National Association of Legal Investigators (NALI). ''They may be working with either plaintiffs, particularly in personal injury cases, or criminal defendants,'' said Mr. Townsend, who represents mostly plaintiffs' cases and specializes in catastrophic personal injury involving the intended or unintended malfunction of products. ''I specialize in criminal defense, (often dealing with) the death penalty and capital litigation,'' said H. Ellis Armistead, legal investigator, Assistant National Director of NALI, and Chairman of the Board of the Professional Private Investigators Association of Colorado.

Whether it is gathering information to help a wrongly convicted defendant or interviewing witnesses to an accident, legal investigators wear multiple hats. ''(My tasks include) contacting and locating witnesses, interviewing, and scene reconstruction,'' Mr. Armistead said. ''We work as a team member with the attorney, so that we can coordinate the (client's) needs and obtain the necessary information,'' said Mr. Townsend. Some legal investigators remain in-house at law firms, while others choose to work in independent contractor capacities.

The wide range of cases makes the profession exciting. ''My job brings me a great deal of satisfaction,'' Mr. Townsend said. ''Most legal investigators are very passionate about what they do.'' The position is also emotionally rewarding, and investigators often see the results of their labor through the gratitude of the plaintiff or defendant. ''We're helping people…get justice and compensation,'' Mr. Armistead explained. Those personal rewards are some of the best parts of the job legal investigators say. ''I just concluded a complex, massive case involving personal injury from a watercraft,'' recounted Mr. Townsend, ''and it was very satisfying to say to the victim, 'even though we can't give you (healthy) legs back, here are the funds to cover your medical expenses for the rest of your life.'''

But the job doesn't come without its challenges. ''Some people may not want to talk to us, and it takes great people skills (to get the information),'' said Mr. Armistead. ''You always want to make a witness your friend (in hopes the person will) provide any info they may or may not have,'' Mr. Townsend added. Then there are those who distrust investigators and legal professionals in general. ''(Legal investigators) face the burden of persuasion to be accepted by the individual they're approaching as a professional,'' Mr. Townsend explained. ''Many people still adhere to the image that the legal profession is a hassle, yet it doesn't have to be (that way).''

In fact, legal investigators are quite different from private investigators and others. ''Legal investigators work for attorneys, unlike traditional private investigators who may take cases from the public,'' Mr. Armistead said. In addition, those in the profession strive to project a professional image, rather than the often-distorted and negative image many people have about them. ''NALI was formed to provide ongoing continuing education to legal investigators,'' Mr. Townsend said. ''We offer a certificate to individuals, upon being tested for skills, knowledge, and ethics.'' Mr. Armistead added, ''We take pride in the profession and are constantly seeking out continuing education methods, like conferences and seminars.''

In addition to training and testing, ethical considerations are emphasized throughout the profession. ''There's a strict code of ethics in force,'' Mr. Townsend stated. ''I don't know of any legal investigator who deliberately violates anyone's right to privacy or any city ordinances and statutory laws. There's no obtaining information through the back door (in this profession.).''

For those interested in becoming a legal investigator, people skills are essential. ''Good person-to-person skills and writing skills are needed,'' said Mr. Armistead. ''Focus and concentration are also significant,'' Mr. Townsend said. ''It's important to set out the goals and understand the legality of the investigation.'' Legal investigators come from all walks of life, experience, and educational levels. ''I've known pilots and engineers who have (become legal investigators). In fact, even some attorneys do this instead of practicing,'' Mr. Armistead said. ''Perhaps the best mix is a broad-based liberal education, with on-the-job training,'' believes Mr. Armistead. ''Especially in states where licensure is required, I would advise new trainees to get in-house with an already licensed firm and receive hands-on training and supervision,'' stated Mr. Townsend. ''Then, (continue learning by) picking up a law journal and attending meetings with the attorneys about special needs and skills.''

Although legal investigators have a small presence in the legal community, their contribution to it is appreciated and valued by attorneys. ''I see the profession growing, particularly in the field of criminal defense,'' said Mr. Armistead. ''I would encourage anyone with a passion for righting a wrong and a real interest in people to consider the profession,'' added Mr. Townsend.

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published April 08, 2023

( 410 votes, average: 4.7 out of 5)
What do you think about this article? Rate it using the stars above and let us know what you think in the comments below.