What Do Private Investigators Do For Attorneys?

  • 4 min read

A good partnership between private investigators and attorneys can be a real benefit to their shared clients. Private investigators and attorneys have been working together for years to help collect evidence and conduct behind-the-scenes investigations. But what exactly do private investigators do for attorneys?


Private investigators for attorneys are paid to uncover information about the other party involved in a legal case. While most cases involve some form of information-gathering, most attorneys don’t have the time or resources to conduct surveillance themselves, which is why they’ll hire a professional investigator. Once the private investigator has the information needed, they’ll come back and present their findings to the attorney, who can then use that evidence to build their case.

Asset search

An asset search aims to reveal the true wealth and net worth of a person, group of people, or organization. If you’re entering into litigation, a pre-litigation asset search can discover and confirm the assets of the other party before trial. This could be to discover the true wealth of the other party for a writ of garnishment—a court order for repayment—or to discover if it’s worth it to take the defendant to trial.


The evidence that a private investigator can provide can be extremely valuable to depositions. Their evidence can help the attorney create the proper list of questions and understand the context of certain situations. When the deposition is conducted, the private investigator can sit in and observe the other party for the attorney. The goal is to look for inconsistencies and changes in body language.

Additionally, a private investigator can help an attorney in the discovery phase of deposition. If the private investigator conducts an asset search or other investigation prior to discovery, they can help validate the accuracy of the statements. We highly recommend having a private investigator look through the discovery packages prior to moving forward with the deposition. At Active Intel, we have yet to see a discovery package with no financial misrepresentations.

Locate witnesses

One of the most valuable skills of a private investigator is their ability to make connections. Private investigators can help an attorney by locating hard-to-find witnesses or finding parties that will help the case. For example, if you’re suing a business for negligence, a private investigator will search through prior claims against the business to search for other individuals who may be able to testify against the business on your side.

Vetting their clients

It sounds strange to have an attorney vet their own client, but it’s really for good reason. Sometimes, a client will not give their attorney the full scope of information in hopes that they will be better off in court. However, this often ends badly and the client and their attorney get blindsided in court. If the attorney has an inkling that their client is withholding information, they may conduct an asset search or other investigation prior to taking on the case.

Should the attorney or the client hire a private investigator?

If you as the client hire a private investigator, it can be discoverable by the other party, meaning they can subpoena the investigator for the evidence. The investigator can fight it and they may be successful, but it is still discoverable by the other party. If your attorney hires a private investigator it could be seen as attorney-client privilege, however, there is no filter on the information that is coming into the attorney’s office. If you’re already working with an attorney, ask them what they prefer.

If you haven’t met with an attorney about your case yet, having an investigation conducted prior to this meeting can be beneficial to you. Attorneys don’t just take any case that comes into their office, they’re very selective with the cases that they choose. Oftentimes if you present evidence to an attorney when meeting with them to take on your case, they’re more likely to take you seriously because you’ve already taken the first steps needed in the investigation.

Every good legal team needs a good investigative team. The analytical skill and investigative knowledge of a private investigator can uncover gold mines of information for attorneys and their clients alike.

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