Readers of Legal Newspaper Pick Top PI: Me!

I didn’t pay much attention in 2007 when readers of The Recorder legal newspaper in San Francisco had selected me as Best Private Investigator/Skip Tracer. It was a small field. It was sort of a nice honor. I won the thing a few more times. Granted, it’s kind of a vanity poll and designed to sell ads. But this year they opened the field up from about three to 10 or more private investigators. I learned last month that I won again.

I’m grateful for any attorney, legal staff member or friend who voted for me. The trust means a lot. I have had some of the same clients almost as long as I have been licensed, since 1996. In a tough economy with hundreds of investigators for lawyers to pick, I try my best and take nothing for granted. As a self-employed friend said of the self-employed. “Every day I wake up unemployed.” Each day I have to earn my bread.

The honor came just as we had done two successful locates of two people at the extremes of
the economy. The first was a locate and serve of a wealthy man who owns numerous properties in California and Nevada. The rich can be anywhere, jetting or maybe just driving from one place to another. We had picked up some social media intelligence that his wife had moved back to Southern California. We decided to start looking for him in Orange County.

Nothing indicated to me that he was dodging service. He was listed in a collision report with a PO box but his listed phone was out of service. A bit more research revealed him to be a businessman. I told the process server in Orange County to respect the man and his time and just make an appointment with him. She had been to his wife’s place a couple times, and his wife passed on the information that we were looking for him. He accepted the appointment and the service at a hotel.

He might not have been happy about it, but being respectful of his time, and the fact that we were persistent, might have persuaded him to take the papers. It was a suit over a vehicle collision.If you have no indication that someone is intentionally dodging service, then be straight up with them and tell them what you want. Respect is a two-way street, etc.

The other subject we found was a woman who had “dead-ended” in database and all other computer searches. She is an important witness in a personal injury case. She had been moving from place to place with her young children.

How we found her?

Went to a courthouse and started looking at small claims and eviction cases. She was named as a defendant in a case about two years old. She had written to the court and her former landlord. A copy of her note showed two possible phone numbers for her.

I called the one number, reached her and explained why I needed to meet with her and take her statement. Initially, she seemed spooked that I had just called her out of the blue. She wondered if I was gaming her for something else.

She agreed to meet with me over lunch. She brought her toddler son along. Turns out, she is living with her sister or another relative at an address I never would have found.

Private investigations is a business with sometimes more activity than achievement. If it was easy it wouldn’t be as satisfying.