THE LANDSCAPE OF CLEARING, asserting, defending, or acquiring rights is forever evolving. Fortunately, liability and ethical risks to our clients are mitigated by the intimate involvement and careful oversight of Treadstone Group’s founder, Ross Bulla. He is the leading authority on conducting investigations in every sector of the economy and across nearly all industries—logically, lawfully, and ethically.


Do you know what the investigator was?

There is no substitute for experience. Technical skills are learned through practice rather than in theory. Ask what uniquely qualifies every investigator who is assigned to a case, including those who research, author, edit, or approve work products.

How well do you know who the investigator is?

You are hiring a person, not just a collection of experiences. If, even in a fleeting moment, you question the competence and professionalism of a firm or its investigator, so too will your client or a jury. Does the investigator’s personality convey confidence, credibility, and likability that will bear the scrutiny of judges and juries?

Are you certain that investigative methods will also bear such scrutiny?

When an investigation firm focuses on marketing, artificial numbers, and brand recognition, it loses focus on conducting investigations logically, lawfully, and ethically. This often creates a cultural crisis, resulting in frequent changes in leadership, lack of accountability, a high-pressure environment, a failure to enable and enforce ethical standards, and indifference to compliance with the law. Ensure that leadership supports not only the culture you are trying to foster but the values you define as critical.

And speaking of noncompliance with the law…

Some investigation firms attempt to circumvent or avoid laws requiring the licensing of the firm and/or its employees by assigning titles other than “investigator.” Most states require a license if an employee, in any way, obtains information about matters which constitute evidence or which may lead to the discovery of evidence, alleged crimes, the credibility of witnesses or other persons, the truth or falsity of any statement or representation, the affiliation of persons with entities, and many other activities and inquiries that are necessary during I.P. investigations. Ensure that every “researcher,” “analyst,” “writer,” “editor,” “investigator,” “account manager,” etc., who contributes to a work product, is licensed in their state, where required.

Who manages the investigators?

All that applies to investigators should apply to company executives and managers, too. Why hire an investigation firm whose leaders have never actually investigated anything? (If an executive claims investigation experience, see #4.)