In general, the answer to this is ‘no’. However, there are some specific exceptions that might apply in your case. I’ll get to those possibilities shortly, but first it is important to clarify the main issue at hand.
First, like other professionals I do not work for free and I expect to be paid fairly for my time and efforts. To protect everyone’s interests I require a formal (signed) work agreement between the parties; specifically the client and myself. An estimate of costs will be provided before the agreement is finalized, and before actual work begins. Finally, I require a deposit payment to be made before I commence work.
Further to this, I will be officially retained on a matter only after the agreement is signed and received at my office, and after the deposit payment has been made.
Second, there is no way to form an opinion until the work is actually done. At best, it is possible to assess potential limitations to determine what material will be required for an effective examination.
Please understand that no qualified document examiner will ever give an opinion after simply ‘eye-balling’ something; that isn’t how it works. I provide top-quality service and my reputation rests on providing the best possible analysis and opinion.
Third, most people come to me with their own opinion on a matter. That’s understandable, but my professional opinion must be, and will be, based on a detailed review of the evidence. To that end, I will conduct a complete examination and comparison before I reach a final conclusion and give you my opinion. The outcome may or may not meet your expectations or conform to your belief, particularly if you are looking for something particular or specific.
It is critical to understand the duty of an expert is to provide impartial and unbiased information to the trier of fact so that they can determine what the evidence means. I guarantee the quality of my work but that guarantee does not extend to providing any particular outcome or opinion. That is not how it works.
For all these reasons, please do not expect me to provide my opinion without first doing a proper and complete examination.
Now, there are times when a “pre-submission review” of a case submission might be acceptable. Specifically, this might be done to conduct a proper assessment of the material in situations where the matter is complicated, confusing, or it is unclear whether the material you have will be adequate.
As a rule, I provide a work estimate based on a general description of the items and the questions you need answered. Unfortunately, that means there is always some uncertainty in the quote. Hence, from time to time a preview of the material (i.e., pre-submission review) will allow a more precise estimate of the time required or the costs involved so that the estimate is more accurate.
At the same time, please note this is not a “quick look” intended to provide any sort of opinion. No actual examination will happen until my services have been formally retained, and the retainer fee has been received and acknowledged. In other words, any pre-submission is limited to a determination of the type of work to be done, the time required, and a final estimation of costs. A “pre-submission” review is not an examination and will not result in a final, or even preliminary, opinion.