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23/04/20

Diales developments

Diales developments

Diales developments

In this article Keith Strutt explains how important good experts are, and takes us through the development process that Diales experts go through to ensure they meet expectations and the standards required.

Introduction

Diales, the Driver Group’s independent expert witness service, is a core activity for the Group and central to the development and growth of the business. The activities of Diales, through its experts, also represents the highest profile work that we carry out; the work is always subject to the closest scrutiny, by the most experienced and high profile people in our industry – solicitors, barristers, judges and the leading experts from our competitors, in fora that is often published into the public domain.

The consequences of poor performance by an expert will expose both the expert, and Diales, to damaging criticism; the reputational damage that results would take considerable time and effort to repair, and may never be fully repaired for the individual expert.

The need for our experts to be competent, accurate, experienced, and credible is vital.

Consistency and Development

Along with providing a consistent and high standard of expert and service, development for Diales candidates also provides the opportunity to develop the staff members who either wish to become an expert, or work as part of the extensive expert support teams working on complex, high value international disputes. 

After review of the requirements and difficulties, both of becoming an expert and practicing as one, it was concluded that the traditional approach, used by many in our industry, of putting candidates through a standardised course – normally lasting one to three days – and expecting them to practice as an expert on completion, is not fit for purpose.

As part of the development of Diales and to provide a more streamlined and clearer path to joining Diales as an expert, a new process for entry to the Diales team, using a professional competence based approach, has been developed. This entry scrutiny process, as it is based on competence, is also an ideal vehicle to develop individual development and training plans for candidates.

The new approach was introduced in September 2019, with the first candidates progressing to Diales membership in December 2019. If you are part of the Diales Development Group and intend to progress to Diales expert member, then completing the application form and beginning the competency assessment process is essential.

Diales Expert Criteria

The minimum criteria for becoming a Diales expert are:

  1. At least 15 years of technical experience;
  2. Suitable technical qualifications along with the appropriate technical professional memberships; and
  3. Must have been cross-examined or completed an internal and external cross examination course.

In addition to the above, it is essential that a substantial proportion of the work normally undertaken is as lead assistant to an expert on an expert commission.

The assessment of competence is based on the following areas:

  • Diales competency criteria
  • Ethics and practice
  • Academic background
  • Professional certification/memberships
  • Professional experience
  • Expert profile
  • The commission
  • Communication
  • Report drafting
  • Expert meetings
  • Testifying
  • Diales membership interview

Assessment

The ten competencies are sub divided into a range of skills and knowledge items, each ranging from level one to three, demonstrating the attainment of progressively higher standards of experience and competence. The assessment of the candidate against each of the criteria, and the level of competence currently attained, provides the basis for developing a person-specific training programme to reach Diales Membership.

Each Level represents a discrete level of attainment.

Level one shows that the candidate demonstrated knowledge competency: illustrated by the submission of written work or confirmation of knowledge from a senior professional within Diales.

Level two shows a level of practical application of knowledge: demonstrated by evidence of participation in the expert process, with evidence and verification by a Diales expert.

Level three is application of knowledge: leading a live expert appointment or third-party training.

These competencies are summarised into a table, where each competency receives a percentage, which will reflect whether they have met the requirements within the levels of achievement. The level of attainment giving a basis for additional training required to develop fully the expert competency of the candidate to full Diales membership.

The final stage is a mock interview with the Regional Diales Head to test technique in facing an expert selection interview and general competence in the established criteria areas and cross examination. This mock interview is then followed by an interview with the Head of Diales and final confirmation of entry.

The need for competence, consistency in levels of service and performance means that the traditional approach to selecting experts to be put forward by any consultancy is no longer sufficient for the modern expert consultancy world. The reputational and corporate damage possible for failure is high and long lived for both the company and the individual.

The new competency based approach to Diales expert selection not only ensures consistency of performance, but also provides a basis for assessment and training that benefits the individual and strengthens the Diales service to our clients.

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