Lawyers are not Legal Investigators.
Legal Investigators are not Lawyers

Lawyers are not Legal Investigators.
Legal Investigators are not Lawyers

legal-investigatorsI’ve always found working with lawyers and the legal process to be one of the most interesting parts of my law enforcement career. Especially intriguing, were the major cases that involved complex investigative and prosecutorial strategies. They evoked much passion, and, at times heated, and intense debate. Working collectively from the beginning of an investigative process to a prosecution and final judicial disposition brought a sense of completion and satisfaction.

Investigators bring different skills to the table

A good legal investigator is a significant asset to a lawyer, gathering information and verifying facts that support cases.

A good legal investigator is a significant asset to a lawyer, gathering information and verifying facts that support cases, providing the foundation for legal argument, and increasing the chances of a positive outcome. Investigators employ techniques and research skills that a lawyer may not have the ability or time to perform.

The digital age has changed some of the ways in which conventional investigations are conducted, extending the investigators reach and deepening the pool of information sources. While traditional search engines are not capable of accessing the vast amounts of high quality information that exists on the web, open source intelligence and data mining the deep web, have become crucial to legal investigations.

Identifying, locating and interviewing witnesses

Investigators trained in interview techniques and obtaining statements can assist in a fact-finding process.

In many legal investigations, witnesses need to be identified, located and interviewed. An experienced investigator with skills in advanced Internet research can often find and provide significant background information on a witness. Investigators trained in interview techniques and obtaining statements can assist in a fact-finding process or uncover evidence not readily disclosed by the subject.

Comprehensive witness or persons-of-interest background checks

Vetting witnesses, including those of opposing counsel, can provide a litigator with significant advantages. A comprehensive background check can identify evidence not initially disclosed, revealing character, integrity, reputation, regulatory and financial issues, or, associations and patterns of behaviour that may aid in many aspects of a cross examination and witness profile.

Financial and asset searches

An analytical and investigative process will provide a clearer understanding of the assets held by a person or company.

Financial and asset investigations can identify hidden property, shell companies, and other holdings of an investigation subject or their nominee—a person or company whose name is used on title only for stocks, real estate and other assets, to hide the identity of the actual owner.

Investigators can use open sources and proprietary databases and research techniques to legally uncover assets or financial holdings. An asset investigation relies on a research methodology supported by strong search capabilities and particular knowledge. An analytical and investigative process will provide a clearer understanding of the assets held by a person or company.

Open source, analytical and investigative process

An investigator can connect the dots and put together key sources of intelligence.

Information technology has fundamentally changed some of how we investigate. Developing the necessary online investigation skills for identity verification, background profiling, assessing personal, legal and financial histories, and identifying associations, requires significant knowledge of publicly available (though often hidden) Internet resources.

An investigator can connect the dots and put together key sources of intelligence to assist counsel’s position—establishing associations and patterns of behavior that can support their strategy and help ensure the desired results in court.

Estate and probate investigation

There are many techniques and skills required to find people, and even for a professional it can be a daunting task. Investigators trained in identifying patterns and thinking “outside the box” can often establish a person’s whereabouts. People are creatures of habit, and often are off the radar but sometimes close by—hiding in plain sight.

If a historical reconstruction or corporate history is required, an investigator can help piece together missing facts, documents and witnesses.

Electronically organizing and managing complex case material

Complex cases and investigations require assigned tasks, decision logs and an accountability process.

Legal investigators experienced in major case management routinely prepare court briefs, reports and affidavits supported by digital disclosure packages that are organized and searchable. Complex cases and investigations require assigned tasks, decision logs and an accountability process in support of the speed, flow and direction of any legal case. Investigators can seize, document, analyze, and maintain the continuity of exhibits.

Do you require legal investigation services?

If you are a lawyer who needs investigative support services, Fathom Research Group brings decades of experience to legal investigation and case management. If you have any questions about our services, or would like to discuss how we can help, contact us.

About the Author

Pat Fogarty is a former organized crime investigator now leading Internet research and investigations at Fathom Research Group. Read more about Pat.