Matthew Haltzman’s law firm provides in-house medical services to resolve client’s cases more efficiently.

Matthew Haltzman (2010 BACH H&SS, 2014 JD) is reimagining the way his clients secure expert consultation for their cases through Haltzman Law Firm. Based in Fort Collins, Colo., Haltzman’s is the only law firm in the area with both a medical doctor and a toxicologist on staff. This in-house expert medical consultation allows the firm to resolve clients’ cases in a more cost-effective way.

Haltzman recognized a need for a new model during his four years as an attorney for a personal injury firm. He often found himself consulting with his father, a psychiatrist, in order to best serve his clients. “Being a psychiatrist, he has good insight into a lot of medical issues that span from things you would learn in medical school up to very specific issues in psychiatry,” Haltzman said. “I had unrestricted access to that kind of information.”

This unrestricted access inspired him to open his own law firm in late 2019, which specializes in criminal defense and personal injury. Besides the firm’s three attorneys, it also employs Haltzman’s father as a medical consultant, two toxicology consultants, and an investigator/paralegal.

Hiring an expert for a criminal or civil case under the traditional model is often a time-consuming, costly process. After the initial consultation and hiring, the client or attorney becomes responsible for the expert’s travel cost, time, and other case-based expenses, which can quickly add up. “It’s a very cost prohibitive model, and it gets very expensive for clients,” Haltzman said. “They often have to make a choice: ‘Is it worth hiring this expert for my case? Am I willing to spend this kind of money with no guarantees of success?’”

In contrast, Haltzman’s firm gives its clients direct access to experts from the very beginning. With a client’s approval, the firm’s medical and toxicology experts screen their case for any issues that might be worth exploring. The attorney then presents the client with several options based on the experts’ initial opinion of the case, including having one of the firm’s experts write a report or hiring an independent expert.

This initial expert screening process saves the firm’s clients money and helps its attorneys resolve cases more effectively. An attorney knowledgeable about the medical components of a case, such as mental health and addiction issues, can better explain an expert’s opinion to their client and advise them on how they should proceed. Likewise, the ability to clearly explain medical information to a judge during a trial can be beneficial. “With direct lines to toxicologists and medical experts, I’m able to educate myself,” Haltzman said. “We’re able to know something new about this case that helps us with the case we’re working on and any future case that comes in with a similar fact pattern.”

From an early age, Haltzman was intent on becoming a lawyer and advocating for others. When it came time for him to choose a college, he knew he wanted to attend a “big school in the South” with a law program, which led him to LSU. After earning a bachelor’s degree in political science and history, Haltzman decided to attend LSU Law, which he describes as one of the biggest and most influential decisions of his life. “I’d put my legal education up against any lawyer’s law school; my education at LSU Law rivals, if not exceeds, what they got,” Haltzman said. “We had great professors, but not only that – we had a way of learning that gave us some real-world experience.”

After graduating, Haltzman moved to Wyoming, where he served as a special prosecutor for Yellowstone National Park and Grand Teton National Park. He then practiced complex civil litigation at a firm in Cheyenne, Wyo., before moving to Colorado.

Haltzman’s firm’s approach to expert consultation is unique to the Fort Collins area, and it may even be the first of its kind. “I don’t know of anyone with a pool of experts who have signed on to do consultations specific to a law firm,” Haltzman said. “This is an original design as far as we’re concerned. As far as I know, we’re one of a kind.”

 

Bailey Chauvin for the LSU Alumni Association