The truth will prevail. That is the standard by which ForensisGroup measures success.
While the lawyers and insurance companies who hire ForensisGroup believe they have the facts on their side to make an expert witness beneficial to their case, ForensisGroup sees the power of the truth, wherever it leads, as the principle by which it will maintain trust and build relationships with its clients.
“Current events demonstrate how falsehoods can easily spread and be twisted as facts,” ForensisGroup President and CEO Mercy Steenwyk says. “Facts provide the proper insight into the truth of a situation and the consequences that can occur.”
Steenwyk began her career in marketing, rising to the role of Marketing Manager for a Century City-based construction company. “I was unceremoniously let go in 1990,” Steenwyk remembers. “I don’t know to this day what the reason was.”
Downsized during a recession – what next? She did have the germ of a business idea. She ran it past some trusted colleagues. “I spoke with friends, an architect, a lawyer and a business person,” Steenwyk recalls. The idea was to gather the best minds in construction to serve as experts, consultants, and expert witnesses in legal cases.
If you ever read the book “The Carrot Seed” to your kids, (where the boy’s parents and brother tell him “It will never come up,”) you know what happened next. “They told me it wouldn’t work,” Steenwyk says. “You’re not an engineer. You’re not a lawyer. You don’t have a business degree. You have a young family to tend to, and you don’t have the money.”
Yet, she persisted. Steenwyk started with a handful of trusted engineering specialists who she could call on for clients in need of expert witnesses in cases involving the construction industry.
Today, ForensisGroup has the ability to connect clients with over 3,000 consultants & experts specializing in business, engineering, environmental-related areas and science. It has received recognition as a Top 100 Women-Owned & Minority-Owned Business in Los Angeles.
How do expert witnesses impact a case? One of the earliest cases ForensisGroup worked on was an industrial explosion. “We were just starting out, but I was vetting people who I trusted, so we had a solid but small group of experts we could call on,” Steenwyk says. The lawyer thought the need was for an architect. Steenwyk called on her expert architect, who looked at the facts of the case and said, “Actually, you’ll need to work with a mechanical engineer.”
The architect knew a good mechanical engineer. But when they studied the evidence, they said, “You really need someone who specializes in ammonia refrigeration. You need a process engineer.” ForensisGroup was able to engage the right set of expert witnesses, which eventually included the process engineer, an electrical engineer, and a metallurgist.
“We were in search of the truth – what had caused this explosion.” The experts determined that the ammonia leak was not the result of a defective part or other mechanical problem, but an error by the operator.
What ForensisGroup is not is a database of names to choose from. “There are services like that available, but that is not how we operate,” Steenwyk says.
The core value of seeking the truth is what sets them apart, Steenwyk believes. ForensisGroup vets its experts not just to find the people with the right qualifications and knowledge base. Knowledge is critical, but these experts, aside from practicing the highest business ethics, also must be able to communicate that expertise with legal teams and in court. Instead of finding a name on a database and hoping for the best, ForensisGroup finds the right person to help get to the truth.
ForensisGroup is also expanding into a consultancy to help companies mitigate risks before something happens that leads to a court battle. “Instead of just coming in when damages have been incurred, property damaged, or even lives lost, we want to come in before that, in the hopes of preventing this,” Steenwyk says. This is just another avenue for top minds in a range of industries to bring value and help companies stay out of litigation in the first place.
“We help in a wide range of due diligence scenarios,” Steenwyk says. Some examples include accuracy in warning labels, safety audits, intellectual property, and examining the science behind a patent.
“We offer our very best minds way before to make everything safe,” Steenwyk says. “To help keep this beloved world safer for humanity and improve our lives for the better.”
That desire to improve lives for the better runs deep in Steenwyk and ForensisGroup as a whole. One of the ways the company gives back is through ForensisGroup for Others, a program focused on scholarships and nutrition programs in the Philippines and elsewhere. The Philippines is where Steenwyk was born and spent the first years of her life.
“One of my favorite stories is about a young man named Michael,” Steenwyk says. Steenwyk’s father learned about Michael, who was valedictorian of his class in a remote part of the Philippines. ForensisGroup for Others provided scholarships that enabled Michael to get a civil engineering degree. He started a company and is thriving in his profession.
“I’m an optimist,” Steenwyk says. “Doing what we can with what we have is very powerful.” That’s why ForensisGroup is involved in ongoing outreach projects, and it also responds to global challenges like the war in Ukraine. The company is involved in organizations planting trees globally where they are most needed, and Steenwyk serves as a board member with the Red Cross and EastWest Players,
When people told Steenwyk not to even try, she went ahead and built a business that has been growing and thriving for over 30 years. Starting with a fidelity to the truth, coupled with an optimistic outlook and desire to change the world for the better, they have built a solid foundation for the future.
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