CHEYENNE – A Fort Collins-based law firm has a different way to help clients gain access to experts for their cases.
The Haltzman Law Firm, which was incorporated in October, will serve clients in northern Colorado and southern Wyoming. The law firm practices criminal and civil litigation, with a focus on plaintiffs.
Founding member Matthew Haltzman previously worked as an attorney in Wyoming before moving to Colorado. He’s joined by fellow attorney Lance Thibert, who is a former public defender and will officially join the firm in January.
In his practice, Haltzman said he saw a need for a more tailored approach. Lawyers aren’t doctors, and they aren’t toxicologists.
When it comes to medical, mental health or toxicology issues, lawyers would rely heavily on experts in those fields to try to understand them in a way that makes sense to judges and jurors, he said.
When he was in private practice in another firm, Haltzman said he would rely pretty heavily on his father, who is a psychiatrist, for help understanding these issues.
His goal with founding this firm was to help bridge the gap between the medical field and the law. So he contracts with medical professionals to give his lawyers and clients better access to those experts.
“We can get a better sense of the science behind it as part of our practice,” Haltzman said. “It’s built into the way our practice is designed, so that we have ready access to that kind of expertise.”
For Haltzman, taking this step to have permanent medical consultants as part of the firm just went to his belief that it’s all about the client at the end of the day. He said if his firm can put its clients in a better position than when they walked through the door, they have done a good job.
Ultimately, it comes from a desire to help people, Thibert said.
The traditional way was if someone hired a personal attorney, the defendant would have to spend additional money to hire an expert as it relates to their case. In the public defender realm, people would have to apply and fill out a form to get an expert in a case, Thibert said, and with that comes some bureaucratic roadblocks.
By having experts on hand as consultants, it makes getting that expert opinion more affordable and accessible, he said. The experts also maintain complete autonomy, so if they disagree with the way a lawyer sees the case or have an unfavorable opinion, they let the firm know, Haltzman said.
“If the taxpayers can foot the bill for prosecutors, and insurance companies can foot the bill for their attorneys for high-quality experts to consult with, why can’t we do that?” Haltzman said.
Currently, Haltzman has two toxicology consultants and one medical consultant as part of his firm, according to his website.
By having these medical professionals as consultants, Haltzman said he can pick up the phone and call them anytime with a question. Without consultants, to get a medical expert, Haltzman said it might take six or seven calls to even find someone who is available to speak.
Often times, lawyers have to call out-of-state experts in Arizona or California, and this process can take weeks.
“The more quickly you can figure out exactly what is going on with your client,” Thibert said, “the faster you are able to get them the help that they need.”
Isabella Alves is the Wyoming Tribune Eagle’s criminal justice reporter. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 307-633-3128. Follow her on Twitter @IsabellaAlves96.