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“Learn the pros and cons of owning a forensic engineering practice.”

By John D. Gaskell, Retired Consulting Engineer

Author of “The Complete Guide to FORENSIC ENGINEERING

Forensic engineering is defined by the National Academy of Forensic Engineers (NAFE) as “the application of the art and science of engineering in matters which are in, or may possibly relate to, the jurisprudence system, inclusive of alternative dispute resolution.” These engineers serve as consultants to the legal profession and as expert witnesses in courts of law.



  • You have a much higher earning potential as an owner.
  • Pride of ownership.
  • Benefits of being the boss.
  • You get to make all the final decisions.
  • You can’t get laid-off.
  • You get to keep the profits.
  • You can pick and choose the most appealing cases to personally handle and assign the others to your staff.
  • You can pursue the most interesting/profitable cases.
  • You spend time socializing with clients and potential clients.
  • If you are successful and hire an able staff, you will have a valuable asset to sell when it comes time for your retirement.
  • Disadvantages:
    • Be prepared to make “Sacrifices” – Attorney/ clients do not always give you proper notice of their needs. Several times, after my expert report sat in my file for over a year, I get a call that I will be needed to testify tomorrow. I had to pull an all-nighter and then needed to look and act sharp in the morning.
    • You make the “Firing Decisions” – This is particularly hard during the holiday season.
    • The losses are all yours – On average, I made about three times more compensation than my fellow engineering classmates, but, during one recession, I lost more than my salary for three years in a row.
    • Employees – The biggest headache in running any business is managing human resources. Often, employees don’t get along with each other or with the clients, and, sometimes, they don’t even care about the success of the company that employs them. Regardless, before you know it, you may be responsible for thirty or more mouths to feed. That is an awesome and burdensome responsibility.

Litigation consulting is interesting, challenging, and profitable. If owning a forensic engineering practice interests you, I recommend adding “Forensic Engineering” to your practice as a consulting engineer.

Get Jack’s new book: The “Complete Guide” to FORENSIC ENGINEERING to learn the details of owning a forensic engineering practice. Also, the largest chapter in his book: The “Complete Guide” to CONSULTING ENGINEERING covers the “highlights” of Forensic Engineering. Visit to find out more.

Learn how to be a forensic engineer. Learn how to be a forensic expert witness. How to be an engineering expert witness. How to obtain training as a forensic engineer. How to obtain training as an engineering expert witness.