Hydrology and groundwater expert witness Rick Van Bruggen, P.E., D.WRE, writes on whether expert witnesses are “recession proof.”
As an expert witness I am seeing that, while our field of work is not completely “recession proof,” it does seem to be significantly buffered from the full effects of a recession. The fact is, litigation does not stop during an economic downturn, but the nature of it may. As with the recession of ’01-’02, the impact of this recession on my expert witness work seems to have been delayed by some three to six months from the initial impact felt by the industrial sector of the economy, and the scope of that impact seems to be somewhat less ( I haven’t laid myself off… yet). Hopefully, as with the last recession, I will also see my business come back early-on, as the economy starts to improve. Of course, the big unknown now is how deep, and for how long, our economy will be in the tank.
Another trend I have seen is that, while my caseload is usually split 50/50 between defense and plaintiff work, I am approached by more council for defendants, verses plaintiffs, on new cases during a recession. This may speak to the fact that plaintiffs have to foot their own bills to initiate and maintain a piece of litigation, but defendants have to defend themselves, no matter what. While the number of civil cases that I get through insurance company subrogation seems not to have changed (I’m a flooding expert and it will always continue to flood somewhere), I would imagine that experts involved in more criminal cases would see an increase in their caseload, as the crime rate always seems to go up during hard times.