Disclaimer: this post concludes on a moral note. Apologies in advance it that is not your thing.
I got an interesting call on Monday from a lawyer looking for an expert witness on the topic of search engines. It’s not the first time I have been asked. I turned down the last request due to other commitments. That said, when I get these requests, it is hard to say if I would have been a good fit for the job. I have been in the industry for 6 years and that is pretty much the lifetime of the industry. Also, since I teach Search Marketing at Humber College and for other organizations, and consult on it, I am probably appropriate for the majority of cases.
To be honest, I am not sure how many people in all of Canada can really qualify for the “search engine expert witness” title. As I say, I can’t be sure I do either. I asked Kathy (who manages Anicon now) to call back and learn a little more about the case to see if I was a suitable expert in this instance. Kathy is well on her way to becoming a Canadian search engine expert herself, but you never know what knowledge will be relevant in a case. For certain either of us could testify about the principles and best practices surrounding ranking a website, but if the case demanded someone who would be willing to comment on the intricate changes in search engine algorithms, that is not something we could do beyond speaking in general terms. The fact is only those who work within the walls of the Googleplex or at Microsoft or Yahoo! can really speak to those kinds of specific changes, and I’ll bet you they are legally bound to keep their mouths shut. Therefore, Kathy, I or Jeff (also an Anicon team member and search expert) are as likely to be certified as anyone to be an expert search engine witness.
But the point of all of this is that when Kathy called to find out more information on my behalf, this is what the lawyer said:
“I only want to go through this once. I am a lawyer. I don’t have time for this.”
That was just plain rude – and she clearly did not know who she was talking to (i.e. a very qualified person). Guess what? Kathy does not have time for you anymore, and I’ll back her up on that one. I feel sorry for the client of this lawyer because her lawyer does not have a winning attitude and does not appear to be on track to build a team for a successful defence. Nobody is perfect and we all make mistakes. What else is true? We’re all tight on time and you catch more flies with honey. It’s important not to forget these things…