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“Our pivot point was a realization of value creation.”

The Expert Institute was launched in 2010 to disrupt the expert referral market. The company provides subject matter experts to legal and financial firms for various projects that include litigation, due diligence, and investment research matters. The Expert Institute custom recruits specialists who are leaders and authorities in their field, rather than providing experts from a Rolodex.

The Expert Institute has provided services to more than 3,000 firms throughout the U.S. and also has clients in Canada and the UK.

They were voted one of the “Best Expert Referral Services” of 2013 by the New York Law Journal.

The Expert Institute

BusinessInterviews.com: What inspired you to launch The Expert Institute?

Michael: I became aware of several businesses providing subject matter experts to investment firms and researchers – and recognized the need for this same service in the legal space. While several established companies provide expert witness recruiting services to law firms, they tend to have an “old fashioned” mindset about how to identify the most qualified candidates for each engagement. This method compromises customer service as the quality of the candidate presented is often questionable at best. By developing a technology platform to quickly assess the suitability of a prospective candidate for an expert witness engagement, The Expert Institute is able to add value by connecting attorneys to the best expert witnesses who will greatly benefit them in pre-trial preparations and at trial.

BusinessInterviews.com: Startups typically need to pivot and evolve their business model over time, especially as customers start to use their product or service. Can you provide some advice or lessons learned to entrepreneurs on pivoting while keeping your business moving forward at the same time?

Michael: Sure. When TEI first launched, we had a revenue model which afforded us a great deal of “upside” on a per engagement basis – more specifically, we shared in the fees generated by experts we had identified on each project. However, we quickly learned that this model came with a burdensome amount of extra strings attached. After more careful analysis, we realized that because we focus on identifying and providing our clients with the best qualified expert witnesses, we will be more profitable and successful in the long run if we are transparent and charge a fair fee for our service. Our pivot point was a realization of value creation. This experience taught us that sometimes a company must be agile and quickly implement improvements as their business grows and develops.

BusinessInterviews.com: Where does your passion for entrepreneurship come from?

Michael: I’ve always been passionate about running companies and working. As a child, I spent a lot of time with my grandfather at his office and he was a successful entrepreneur. I also preferred reading about business news (and business related biographies) than sports or other hobby pursuits that many of my peers identified with. For me, it’s about being creative and in control of my own destiny – it’s a wonderful feeling to spend each and every day doing what I want to do – and how I want to do it – and with the folks that I want to do it with! It’s pretty tough to beat!

BusinessInterviews.com: Can you talk about your process or system for attracting and choosing the experts you use?

Michael: Its data driven and scientific – much like the process companies like Yelp and TripAdvisor use when recommending a great restaurant for pizza in the Financial District of Manhattan – or a hotel in Orlando, Florida. Many of our competitors fail to acknowledge this trend in business which we’ve been afforded via technology. Our system for sourcing experts begins with assessing an expert’s past litigation history and case involvement. If history is an indicator (which it often is), the candidate who did a lousy job will likely perform badly once again. Not dissimilar from Yelp, a restaurant with a 1 star (out of 5 stars) rating is likely to be third-rate. On the contrary, the hotel on TripAdvisor with a 98% customer satisfaction rating is likely to offer guests a great experience. We remain objective in our pursuit of the most qualified and suitable experts for each client engagement. By leveraging data and technology, we’re able to consistently line up the best matches for our attorney clients on very significant litigation matters.

BusinessInterviews.com: How do you think working in a team of millennials influences the vision and direction of the company?

Michael: Ah, great question! Much like me, the team is driven to make a difference. No matter how many “No’s” they have to hear before getting a “Yes” – the team is not easily discouraged or frustrated; they are very determined hardworkers. We encourage a pro-active, forward thinking, supportive environment. The team works together as one cohesive unit.
The Expert Institute started as the smallest player in the space – and I’m proud to report that we’re the most successful company in the expert witness service space. There is no other company capable of providing the level of quality and care that our team offers on each expert witness engagement.

I suppose we all have a lot in common – we’re all around the same age, living in NYC, bright, intellectually curious and athletic. We play sports and do other fun activities together, we love exploring restaurants around town and sharing stories about our nights and weekends away from the office. More often than not, we spend our free time outside of the office hanging out together. This allows everyone to trust their colleagues and understand their strengths and weaknesses – which results in better work product and better service for the customer.

BusinessInterviews.com: What are some emerging trends that you’re excited about?

Michael: Lawyers are embracing technology at an accelerating pace. It took them a while, but I think they’re finally starting to get it! This will mean great things for The Expert Institute!

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