When, Why and How to Ask for Prepayments and Extra Payments As an Expert Witness

Should you ask for a retainer? Yes, you should. If a case appears simple, a modest retainer fee equivalent to two or three hours of your consulting rate may be fair. You can reduce your initial retainer fee under special circumstances or for limited scope of work. In the same fashion, you can raise your retainer at other times when the initial work will be dramatically larger. After assessing how many hours of initial work you will need to undertake, let that guide you to the size of your retainer.

Be particular about the initial expectations so that you can quantify the initial retainer. Ask, and agree, on the materials you must read, the research or investigations you must complete, and consider what tests you must run. Confirm your understanding with an email, a fax or a letter, depending on the urgency of the work. Then, wait until you've received the retainer check or payment before starting the work. If the attorney tells you that the job is urgent, send him wire transfer information so that he can wire your retainer directly to your bank account. This can easily happen in a 24-hour period.

Always ask for an initial payment before you begin work on a case or you might end up working for nothing. If, by the end of the case, the hours you spent did not consume the retainer, you should refund the difference.

Occidentally an attorney will ask you to do work for free. A free first telephone conversation representatives goodwill and can be an encouragement to engage you when the case seems right. Doing analysis or research for advocates and charging them nothing is unprofessional. On the other hand, you can certainly consider pro-bono work from time to time, just as attorneys occasionally do.

One novel element remains to consider. As your reputation grows, attorneys will sometimes retain you just to be sure that the other side can not employ you. As a result, you should value the use of your name as an expert witness, and considering imposing a minimum fee whenever an attorney wants to retain you. You can apply this minimum charge against services, so it will have no impact on the total cost to the client unless the attorney never uses your services.

In my retainer contract, my terms require both an advance retainer and a replenishment of all or part of the retention from time to time. The amount of replenishment depends on what additional work the attorney requires of me. Some experts require that the attorney or client maintain a minimum retainer. To do so, you should bill to restore that minimum whenever the balance in the pre-paid account for the client falls below a specific level. Ask for new advance payments whenever it becomes similar that additional work will deplete the existing balance in the client's account.

Typically, your client will not have to replenish the retainer if the additional work only requires one to several hours. But you should request advance payment in the following instances:

1. If a sudden surge occurs in discovery materials for your review.

2. If your attorney requests that you travel for conferences and meetings.

3. If any investigations require you to travel to job sites or company offices for observations, meetings, and any other explorations.

4. If your deposition has been scheduled. You will have to reserve a variable number of days in your schedule for the deposition, for a pre-deposition conference, and possibly for the travel time as well.

5. If a trial has been scheduled; you will have the same factors of blocking out time for possible travel, meetings, and testimony.

You should also estimate airfare, hotel, car, and food expenses as well. You can contain those in requested advance payments. If you ask for advance payments, ask for them well in advance. Larger companies often have processing delays for invoices or payment requests. You do not want those delays to stand in the way of your work. Do not wait until the last minute to ask for advance payment. Your business needs to be organized enough to estimate the size of advance payments. You can base those payments on discussions with the attorney about the progress of the case and what work you expect will be required of you.

The most important advance payment is the one that precedes a trial. Be firm in asking for advance payment for your anticipated billings before traveling to testify at a trial. Clients have now spent a large sum of money by the time a trial begins. If the client loses in the trial, he either may not be able, or choose not, to pay you. But because he needs your testimony at the trial, put the pressure on him to pay beforehand and not on you to collect afterwards.

Receiving advance payment for your trial testimony time permits you to respond "No" to the potential cross examining question of whether the client owes you any money.

If the client has now paid you, you can honestly point out that the verdict in the case will have no affect on your testimony.

Service Industry Lean Manufacturing – Implementation Guide

Non-manufacturing industries have not embraced lean manufacturing to the same extent as those producing a product. Some service industries have found the same principles apply, although the use of lean manufacturing tools is different.

For example, a value added analysis is just as easily conducted with a worker talking on the telephone as someone using one.

The 5S tool can be used to organize the surroundings in the telemarketing office. All materials the telemarketer uses should be organized and within reach without having leave the area. This 5S organization enables the telemarketer to continuously utilize any material in front of them as well as keep an eye on a computer.

The same SMED tools can be used with a administrative assistant as a machine operator. The process map and movement will show the waste in each. The assistant’s travel shows the motion waste. The waiting waste is often huge in any white collar or service job. For example, the waste from waiting on a colleague, manager, supplier, or anyone else can be eliminated. There are ways to minimize it by removing the root cause as well as finding activities to fill the time. These activities should be of short duration, such as data entry, filing, or printing.

Line balancing is easy in a service environment. The key is flexibility. For example, two tellers at a bank may be required 6 out of 8 hours per day, but the trained lean expert or industrial engineer is required to notice it. The additional two hours of waste comes in buckets of 1-2 minutes throughout the day. Again, this time must be filled with value added activities in a standard work format. If the job isn’t standardized, the two individuals may absorb the time and appear 100% busy. There are many other instances where job combinations are obvious.

The value stream map is an excellent tool for service industries. Rather than the traditional macro level view of the system, the value stream map can be used in a department or area of the business. An example would be the service desk at a department store. Begin with the information flow and trigger for activity, which might be a customer. Break the map into various segments showing the few activities that comprise 90% of the work, such as returned goods, request for information, or complaints. Standardized Operations should be utilized for returned goods to minimize motion and waiting, such as a decision flow diagram. If the manager is called a large percentage of the time, the decision flow diagram needs improved. Obviously the 5S and SMED tools are also relevant, as well as root cause problem solving to eliminate the complaints.

Service industries often use kanbans without knowing it, such as ordering supplies. The same pull systems can be used in service industries as the manufacturing sector. The supply distribution center is one obvious example. Inventory waste can be eliminated using pull systems beginning with the end downstream customer.

When implementing lean manufacturing in a service industry, it is important to tailor the training to the business. Most SMED (single minute exchange of die) training is developed using examples of setup activities for equipment. It is easier for people to understand and see the waste in their processes when the training has obvious applicability.

One of the best long term lean manufacturing tools to apply in a service industry is the kaizen event. Kaizen means “incremental improvement” in Japanese. The kaizen team is comprised of a cross functional team developed to quickly and substantially improve a business issue. For example, a kaizen might be developed to reduce hospital check in time for testing. The team might include the individuals conducting the check-in, a nurse, manager, an IT representative, and a couple customers. If the average check in time is 35 minutes (the elapsed time from walking into the building until seated in a private room), the kaizen objective might be to reduce the check in time to 20 minutes within 5 days.

Cellular manufacturing can be used in many service businesses. Rather than placing individual pieces of equipment such as the postage meter, copier, fax, and file drawer throughout the area for everyone to use (and wait on), consider placing these items together in a U shaped cell to minimize movement.

The “One Piece Flow” concept is a great tool for processing items such as quotes, bills, or mail pieces. For example, if four people must review a quote, and the first person processes 500 prior to moving to the second individual, and so on, the cycle time is going to be very long. Also, if the fourth person notices a mistake the other three missed, all 500 are bad and much labor was spent unnecessarily. Moving the piece in a flow of “one” or in small batches minimizes the error cost and reduces cycle time.

Service industries have a terrific opportunity to reduce waste. Sometimes it is simple and obvious, while other times it takes the same creativity as in the factory.

How a Business Can Benefit From the Internet

With today’s advances in technologies and the rapid growth of the Internet having an online presence for a business is very beneficial. A business can benefit in many ways from owning its own Web site. Only a few years ago, if a customer wanted to do business with a specific company he or she would have to physically go to the business or, in less common cases, they could order from a catalog. The development of Internet technologies has created an environment where collaborating with clients, communicating with employees, marketing, and training have evolved to reach a broader group of clients in a more efficient manner.

With development and growth of Internet search engines, the way people find businesses has changed a great deal in the past few years. Someone in need of a product or service in a geographical area could go on the Internet and search for what they were inquiring about. The Internet search would give the person a list of Web sites to choose from. For example; if he or she were in need of a plumber they would use the Internet to search for a plumber in their city. In the search results he or she would find a plumber’s Web site and obtain their telephone number. The use of paper-back phone books to find businesses is slowly disappearing.

Internet technologies and Web pages also help businesses with when and where they can sell their products. With the recent development of online shopping Web sites, also known as ecommerce sites, companies are able to sell products anytime and from anywhere over the internet. The need for the old brick and mortar store is not always necessary. For example; if he or she wanted to buy a certain book they could go to the book store and buy it. With the Internet and shopping Web sites, he or she could find the book virtually and have it mailed to their house. Another type of shopping Web site is the auction site. An auction site allows an individual to bid on something over a period of time, normally for a reduced price. Having an online shopping Web site will greatly benefit a business when selling products, whether that is through an on-line store or through an auction site.

Marketing and advertising a business has changed recently because of the Internet. The traditional methods of advertising a product or service was usually done through printed ads and radio commercials. With the Internet, companies are advertising their products and services on popular Web sites. The more popular a Web page, the higher the charge for advertising space. Other Internet advertising options allow a company to advertise at specific times and specific geographic regions. Internet marketing can expand business advertising to the entire world.

Another great Internet based advertising system is social media. Social media Web sites could be good for a business by linking together groups and other businesses to share information. This can drive new clients to a business. People share information about a product they like and others share it. This type of advertising spreads quickly and can benefit a business.

The Internet and use of a company Web site helps a business communicate. A company can easily communicate with its clients and employees through the use of Internet technologies; such as, email, Web site content, and help forums. If he or she has a question about a product they could easily send the company a message through the help forum or email portal on the Web site. Business communications have changed with the use of online collaboration tools. Using the Internet, a sales person can have access to company contact lists, documents, and calendars that are embedded into the company Web site.

Employee information and training has changed with the use of the Internet. A company can have training modules built into their Web site for initial and recurring employee training sessions. This saves the company time and money. Communicating with employees by using email is also helpful to a business. Policy changes and other information can easily be sent throughout a business by using electronic communication. When a business uses technologies and electronic communication methods it saves money by not wasting paper.

The next generation of Internet technologies and Web sites are the mobile type. Businesses that have traveling sales people need access to company resources using smaller handheld devices. The Web applications made for mobile devices are smaller, fast loading, and do not rely on heavy graphics. The computer as we know it is changing into a smaller, hand held, mobile device. These smaller devices help a business become mobile. Imagine being a traveling business person and having to go through airport security everyday with a large laptop and all its equipment. Now imagine just carrying a handheld device and how much easier it becomes.

Internet technologies and the use of business Web sites are constantly changing and evolving. When a company can adapt and change with the technologies it will benefit because, using quick and effective communicating methods, marketing and advertising strategies, and efficient customer service systems allows a business to move from a brick and mortar store to a potentially global business. Today, if a business does not evolve and keep up with the technology, it will be left behind.

Radioactive Iodine Treatment and Your Immune System

I was diagnosed with Papillary Thyroid Cancer in March of 2008. I was only 27 years old at the time, and in complete shock. I decided to get checked on a whim because my older sister was diagnosed the previous year (even though papillary thyroid cancer isn’t always hereditary). I had absolutely no symptoms and I was told that it was caught very early. My surgery for the removal of my thyroid was scheduled immediately. I was informed that I would have to undergo radioactive iodine treatment shortly after my surgery in order to destroy any thyroid tissue left behind. This is a routine procedure following a thyroidectomy (an operation that involves the surgical removal of all or part of the thyroid gland).

Approximately four months after your radioactive iodine treatment your doctor will order a blood test to calculate your thyroglobulin level. Small amounts of thyroglobulin are normal in those with normal thyroid function.

Thyroglobulin levels should be undetectable or very low after the surgical removal of the thyroid (thyroidectomy) and/or after subsequent radioactive iodine treatments. If levels are still detectable, there may be normal or cancerous thyroid tissue remaining in the person’s body, indicating the need for additional treatment.

In most cases, the patient is only required to undergo radioactive thyroid treatment one time following the thyroidectomy. But, here I am, two years later completing my third round of radioactive iodine treatment. My thyroglobulin level was still at 14. My doctor wants me to be under 1. The radioactive iodine treatment itself isn’t very difficult. My doctor educated me on what to expect before (low iodine diet) and during my short hospital stay for treatment. What I wasn’t informed about was the effects that the treatment would have on my immune system in the coming months.

Following my first two radioactive iodine treatments I was constantly sick. It ranged from the common cold to pneumonia (pneumonia is NOT fun). I was spending hundreds of dollars a month on primary care doctor visits, and prescription medications. I was also losing money because of my constant absence at work. I would only feel “healthy” a couple of weeks at a time here and there.

This went on for about 7 to 9 months following my first radioactive iodine treatment. I was finally getting back to my old self again to find that I had to do a second treatment the anniversary month of my surgery. Then the “sickness cycle” began all over again. I tried so many different immune boosters after my second treatment but nothing worked.

Finally, just after my third round of treatment this past January, I found something that worked. AND it was an all natural product which was the best part. It’s been four months since my third (and hopefully final) radioactive iodine treatment and I haven’t had so much as a sniffle! I can not believe how much better I have felt these past four months compared to the past two years! I am writing to share my experience with others in hopes that I may help in some way. Click on my link below for more information on how to boost your immune system for those tough times ahead. I’ll also share with you two low iodine recipes that I wouldn’t have made it through with out!!