Attorney at Law Magazine recently spoke with Edmond Provder, a life care planner and employability expert with 47 years of experience, about his career and his work with lawyers.
AALM: Tell us what first drew you to your industry.
EP: I was educated as a rehabilitation counselor with a specialty in working with catastrophically injured persons. Being a vocational expert and life care planner allowed me to use my medical, rehabilitation and knowledge of the labor market to assist attorneys in documenting case damages.
AALM: What drew you to your current position?
EP: I was asked by the director of workers compensation to assist injured workers to return to work. I started my company and then began to provide testimony after I evaluated injured persons. At the same time, I was recruited by Louis Zinn in the Social Security Administration and was the youngest expert the administration had at age 27. The attorneys who represented claimants liked me and started sending me cases to evaluate and I would testify at hearings. I have testified for the government in over 2500 cases. This led to testifying in personal injury cases. I was in the initial class of rehabilitation counselors trained life care planners in the early 1980s and I am the longest person practicing in this specialty.
I was in the initial class of rehabilitation counselors trained life care planners in the early 1980s
AALM: How is your company different from its competitors?
EP: I have a team of people working in Occupational Assessment Services including associates, registered nurses, as well as a clerical staff. Most of my competitors are a one-person operation. I have had great results being involved in seven out of the top 12 verdicts in New Jersey in 2019. In December 2019, I did the vocational evaluation and life care plan in New York City case which received a verdict of $102 million. In January 2020, I testified in a case outside of Dallas that settled for more than $12 million. We provide nationwide expert services.
AALM: How would you describe the culture at your company? The team?
EP: Everyone in my company works together to provide plaintiff and defense attorneys with the best customer service to objectively evaluate an injured person’s employability, earning capacity and life care plan needs.
AALM: Tell us about one of the most important lessons you learned from a personal or professional mentor.
EP: My mentor was Dr. Phillip Spergel while I did my internship at Moss Rehabilitation Hospital in Philadelphia. I learned how to do vocational interviewing, vocational evaluation, and how to work as a member of the team. I learned how to work with severely disabled persons especially spinal cord injuries.
AALM: How has your field evolved since you first entered it? What’s the biggest positive and negative change?
EP: I have been in the field of rehabilitation counseling for 47 years and an expert for most of this time. Initially we had very experienced experts who did a through evaluation. I am finding now more and more individuals trying to be experts who are not qualified or experienced. This is a BIG negative. Positive has been the use of computers to do vocational testing and labor market research.
AALM: What do you think is the most pressing concern for attorneys when it comes to your field?
EP: Hiring an “expert” who is inexperienced, provides an unreasonable opinion, and cannot effectively testified. Many experts in my field do only plaintiff or defense work. This puts their objectivity in question. My company does an equal amount of each side. It makes no difference who retains my company as they get the same report.
AALM: What changes do you see on the horizon for your field? How are you and your company preparing to stay ahead of the curve?
EP: We have been pioneers in providing remote evaluations via Zoom and we have the capability to provide three different online vocational test batteries. This has helped us do nationwide evaluations which has saved attorneys travel fees. This has been extremely important during the current pandemic.
We have been pioneers in providing remote evaluations via Zoom
AALM: What do you most enjoy about working with lawyers?
EP: I have been an expert for 47 years. I marvel that when I initially started, I was the youngest person in the room and now 47 years later I am the oldest. I enjoy educating attorneys as to how my opinions are formulated to documents the case damages.
AALM: What is one of the biggest challenges you face in your industry? How do you overcome it?
EP: Occupational Assessment Services has a sister company Medical Billing Analysts which looks at medical bills in personal injury cases as to whether the bills are usual customary and reasonable. OAS is expanding in several new markets even with the current pandemic. There is a shortage of experienced vocational and life care plan experts.
AALM: How are you involved in your industry as a whole? In the community?
EP: I am one of the commissioners of life care planning which involves reviewing life care plan applicants credentials, writing test questions, and setting the standards.
AALM: What advise would you give to an attorney?
EP: I would tell the attorney to hire the best possible expert who has the most experience and has testified in court in similar cases.
AALM: What type of cases do you provide your expert services?
EP: Occupational Assessment Services evaluates individuals in personal injury cases, medical malpractice cases, premises liability and product liability cases, automobile accidents, divorces, wrongful terminations, sexual abuse and harassment cases, Social Security disability, veterans disability and workers’ compensation cases.