Guns, Gams & Gumshoes

A defense attorney & PI who also happen to be writers

Going for the Best: When Private Investigators Hire Other Private Investigators

Posted by Writing PIs on January 26, 2012

As some of you know, because one of the Guns, Gams, and Gumshoes PIs is now a licensed attorney, our investigations agency has morphed into a law-firm-and-private-investigations agency this past year. Usually, it’s convenient to have an investigator down the hall, but recently the single investigator’s workload (she also works for other attorneys and clients) became overwhelming so it was necessary to sub-contract work to another PI.

Our Search for a Wing Man/Woman

We have 16 combined years as private investigators in our agency, with one of us having nearly three decades experience working in the criminal justice system, so we have high standards by which we measure a quality legal investigator. In our search, these were some of our guidelines:

Legal Acumen and Experience

The last thing we want our investigator to do is to kick in someone’s back door to serve them with a subpoena. This might be juicy stuff in fiction, but in real life it can result in lawsuits against us for failing to adequately investigate the background of our investigator. Ideally, we wanted someone who has extensive familiarity with the legal issues that arise during investigative activities such as rules of process service, laws of privacy, awareness of the fair debt collection practices act, legal definition of stalking, laws of eavesdropping and wiretapping.


A good investigator never gives up the hunt. We can’t count the number of cases we’ve broken because we stayed that extra fifteen minutes or asked that one last question.

Attention to Detail

It’s one thing to see the big picture in a case, or to know the goal, but it’s another to magnify a piece of the case and extract that telling detail that could crack it.

Must Like People

We wanted a private investigator who likes and deals well with people. Sure, we all love the tough-guy private eye in movies and books who grouches and argues and gets into slug fests, but that’s fiction. In reality, a private investigator needs to understand what makes people tick and how to coax information from them. This means the investigator must be part psychologist, part actor, part confidante, part interrogator and always trustworthy.


A private investigator can be all of the above traits, but if he/she fails to respond to phone calls to our office or is suddenly “out of pocket” without explanation for hours or days, these delays can damage a case. Witnesses can disappear, evidence can be altered, crime scenes can be cleaned up…you get the picture.

How We Found the Best

We started out looking for a PI by:

  • Contacting a few we’ve worked with in the past, asking if they were interested. One is no longer in the biz, and the other took so long to return our call we realized she was too busy for us.
  • Chatting with some of our attorney-clients with whom we’ve worked closely, and whose work habits and practices we respect. One recommended a local PI who specializes in process services among other investigative tasks. When we called this guy, he might as well have answered his phone, “Hello, I Don’t Want Your Case” because after we told him he’d come highly recommended and we’d like to sub-contract work with him, he started telling us a story of woe about his stack of cases. How his caseload is so large, he would have to schedule our cases weeks out. He grumbled about some of his own cases. He might be good for this other attorney, but not us. We don’t need someone who’s too busy and gripes about his own clients to strangers.

Then We Recalled a PI We Contacted Several Years Ago…

We’d needed some last-minute help on a case. We contacted another PI who didn’t have the expertise necessary for our case and recommended we call Investigator X. We called, he wasn’t in, so we left a message. We hired another investigator because we were under a tight deadline, however Mr. X called us back a few hours later, apologized for not being available when we first called, and asked for us to keep him in mind for future cases.

Two years later, we remembered his message. The act of his calling back, and the tone of that voice message, demonstrated he was persistent, professional, engaging and a good businessman. We called him the other day, reminded him of his invitation two years ago to keep him in mind, and hired him for a job. Within twenty-four hours, he proved his legal acumen and experience, his tenacity, his attention to detail, his ability to deal with different personality types, and his accountability. He’s now our wing man.

Whether your a PI or not, this story shows the importance of simple, everyday business practices. You never know when the call you return opens other doors.

Have a great week, Writing PIs

How Do Private Eyes Do That? now available on Kindle and Nook


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