Peter Zilahy Ingerman, PhD, FBCS - Consultants

We specialize in Computer, Human, and Systems Symbiosis
... making all of the parts work together simply and smoothly for the benefit of all the parts!

Truly Unusual Contract

Filed under unusual contracts was the one where I billed for "Omphaloskepsis".

"Navel gazing?" you ask incredulously?!
Yes. And I was paid for it.

I was hired by a lawyer for an intellectual rights case. I was supposed to determine when the material in question was actually first generated, as the company was claiming it was done when the person was in their employ, therefore the concept belonged to them. Not so unusual.

The opposing lawyer was stalling and delaying. Also not so unusual.

Then when the hard drive containing the concept in question was, at long last, to be delivered so I could evaluate the time frame of the data, there was a motor vehicle accident on the way. In the ensuing chaos, with police, and towing, and whatnot, the hard drive in question disappeared.

Hmmm. Now the fun begins. The lawyer that hired me still had to go forward somehow with the case...

So he contacted me, and requested that I NOT write a report telling him the steps I would have taken, and what I would have been able to have determined had I had access to the hard drive and data in question. Not writing a report made sense as that prevents discovery. So I obliged, and saw to it that there was no written material in the process while making sure the lawyer understood exactly what I would have been able to determine and how I would have determined it.

Then came time to bill for my services. Any written reference to the report I did NOT do makes the information discoverable even if the report itself did not happen. So I contemplated how to document my services for the bill, which naturally led to "Omphaloskepsis".

The lawyer happily paid me for said service.
Unusual? Yes, but what else was I supposed to do under the circumstances?