Thursday, March 13, 2014

Will Work For Free. Kind Of.

I'm not the sort of person, Dear Reader, that you would probably ever accuse of being 'community spirited' but I have been toying with the notion of offering some form of pro bono investigative services for a while now.

What's the catch, you ask?

Well, here's my half-formed idea...

Firstly, I don't intend to replace paying work with the non-paying kind. That would be what they term a 'poor business model'.

I expect that this would involve myself in potentially interesting, probably complex, and possibly newsworthy cases that I might not otherwise have the opportunity to work with. The direct value to me would be in experience gained as well as exposure should the investigation bear fruit.

In other words, this would be akin to both a marketing and training exercise.

I am motivated by self-interest, after all. 

Anyway, some ground rules would need to be necessary so that there are no misconceptions held by the Client:

  • Paying work comes first. Sadly, I have a business to run and bills to pay and that means other obligations will take priority over pro-bono work by necessity.

  • Expenses will have to be covered. I'm happy to provide my time and expertise but any expenses, such as travel, will need to be borne by Client.
  • Publicity. I should be able to use the case in any publicity for my business, should I deem it suitable for that purpose. Similarly, if I've cracked some big case, I should be able to write about it or otherwise ensure that I am associated with the result.

  • Expectation of financial reward in some cases. I think if the Client receives reparation or a financial benefit as a direct result of the investigation, some form of payment should be made to me.
I think this is pretty fair to both the Client and myself and could be a win-win for all parties concerned.

The next big question is to determine the criteria for selecting cases and who to approach. I've been thinking about the local chapter of The Innocence Project (not all cases are reliant on DNA testing) take but might want to try my hand at some simpler matters first. However, one of my greatest fears of offering pro bono services is attracting more of the tinfoil helmet brigade, who I have been doing my best to evade.

Thoughts on this? 

Good idea? Bad?

Does anyone out there offer pro bono services and how does it work for you?


  1. Havn’t looked at your blog for years! Still a good read.

    That aside here’s my take on it.

    I have done pro-bono for journalists on many occasions. There are a few reasons why.

    I think first and foremost is seeing a story that I helped bring to light. (Maybe if my smelling or I gramma was more better I could have been a Journo) But I do get a kick out of it.

    A secondary benefit is it starts to build a circle of very well informed individuals (I’ve done local and national press) and these people typically pay their debts. Never in money, they are even poorer than PIs, but they may know someone who can help in a case, direct the occasional client your way or repay in some similarly practical way.

    There is a woman’s shelter that I have assisted on quite a few occasions. Backgrounded a handy man that were going to work there, advised on a couple of stalking cases, found some parents that kind of thing. All simply because I’m a nice guy. One lady from there however ended up referring a case where I my highest ever fee for a single job.

    So my advice is do it but, but as you intimate, pick em well.

    1. Welcome back, Tony!

      Firstly, I like your idea and will try it out here. Something may come out of it, or not, but it could be worth pursuing.

      Secondly, had you disappeared for a while? I tried sending you a message a year or so ago in regards to something and you could not be found...

  2. "intimate" Should have been Indicate! (and thats why I'm not a Journo)

    1. You were actually right first time.

      in·ti·mate - transitive verb \ˈin-tə-ˌmāt\

      : to say or suggest (something) in an indirect way

  3. I need to stop drunk blog replying. You have an email Sir.