How to Know When to Bring in a Private Investigator

04 September, 2018

A lawyer's life is always busy. Each case requires hours of research and often involves specialist work. The old saying goes that two heads are better than one, and a lawyer and a private investigator working together can be a lot more effective than trying to go it alone.

Private investigation services are not a new development, but they are becoming more common. The field dates back to at least 1833 when Eugène François Vidocq, a French soldier, set up what is believed to be the first detective agency in Paris.

Private investigators today have the same aim as their predecessors: to help victims of crime. Since the 19th century, however, procedures have come a long way, technology has developed significantly and today's private investigators are more efficient than ever.

What services does a private investigator offer?

The investigative services clients require can vary from case to case, but there are some common services offered by many agencies that can be particularly useful for a law firm. These are:

Corporate investigations

There's a common misbelief that private investigators are only useful after a crime has already been committed – or suspected – but this isn't always the case. Doing due diligence on a company that you're looking to do business with is vital before you sign any contracts, and this can be more difficult when there are international borders involved.

Find out more by reading our case study about corporate investigations in Indonesia.

Cyber crime investigations

Instances of cyber crime are becoming increasingly common. Attacks can come under many guises and there's often a cross-border element to these cases. Modern private investigation teams can help with cyber security and cyber law enforcement, lending specialist expertise that some law firms may not have at hand.

Insurance fraud investigations

Recent stats show that more than half of businesses worldwide fall victim to fraud, with millions of dollars untracked and unclaimed. A private investigator can help in these cases by following paper trails and tracking down persons of interest.

Find out more by reading our case study about a multimillion dollar embezzlement case.


Private investigators are often surveillance specialists, running covert operations on behalf of law firms. If an employee or business partner is suspected during a corporate investigation, an investigator can use high-tech tools and techniques to track and surveil them.

When is the right time to call in a private investigator?

Although it can change on a case by case basis, the general rule is that the sooner you can bring in a private investigator, the better. Early consultations can help shape investigations and uncover evidence that can underpin a case, helping you to win the case for your client sooner.

Private investigators are also useful when a law firm is simply going through a busy period. Finding an outside expert to help on a case can bring a fresh outlook, and an extra pair of hands can keep investigations ticking over.

Investigators can also help in cases where travel is required. It's often more practical to get outside help for these jobs than to send someone away from the office to focus on a particular aspect.

Download our free ebook

To find out more about how a private investigator can help with a legal case, download IFW Global's free ebook. This contains case studies where we have helped law firms with a range of cases, such as embezzlement and international corporate investigations.New call-to-action
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