Practice Development for Expert Witnesses
Beryl Vaughan, Consultant
Nationwide

Email go@forensicexpertpro.com or Call (415) 302-9589

14 years

Consulting with Forensic Medical Experts to build and enhance a Reputable and Profitable Practice. Special expertise and experience in Forensic Psychiatry and Psychology.

20 years

Lawyer-wrangling, case-wrangling.

Business development and Practice Management with attorneys. Best practices. Return on Investment. Profitability. Efficiency and Hassle-reduction.

Zoom video psychiatry psychiatrist psychology psychologist expert conferencing with Forensic Psych Marketingphone consultation marketing and development forensic expert witness practice   

Video              Phone

Growing and Changing Your Medical-Legal Practice to Suit Your Needs

The Expert’s Expert

Beryl Vaughan consults and assists Physician Specialists to grow their Forensic or Medical-Legal Practice in the context of the justice system.  She applies additional focus on the practice of Forensic Psychiatry and Forensic Psychology. She draws on 30 years of experience. 

Closing The Gap Between Attorneys and Medical-Legal Experts

I find attorneys are struggling to understand who is the right choice for an Expert Witness in their case, but physicians are not easy to locate. Doctors may not know how to approach the dilemma either.

It is my job to help physicians help lawyers navigate to them through the use of proven techniques.

Techniques are tailored to a given doctor’s unique situation and the nature of a particular legal matter.

Searching Endlessly for the right Medical-Legal Expert is Tiring: Solved

Attorneys report the search for an expert is an emotional drain, and often a waste of time.

In fact, attorneys tell me they will often retain the first doctor who answers their call and has the appropriate qualifications. I believe this reflects frustration, not an attorney making a wise and considered choice. 

It is reasonable that when the specialist physician is not difficult to locate, the attorney is more likely to retain that physician, all things being equal.

Due Process: Nevertheless, an attorney is constitutionally obligated to provide their client with the best possible representation. That means a solidly qualified Expert Witness.

When we make the process of finding the appropriate Expert Witness less burdensome, attorneys call. It truly is that simple. 

Building Your Practice is Tiring: Solved.

Doctors also tell me they are tired of fielding calls, guessing at marketing choices, or simply looking at a silent phone. It is also an emotional drain, and certainly a time sink.

Understanding Practice Development is Not Intuitive: Solved

I have spent decades perfecting practice development techniques for my medico-legal clients.

Strategies are rarely obvious to a doctor. These skills are not in the environment of medical practice or medical education, for that matter.

A “marketing” strategy should be the result of informed decisions. I explain to a client my recommendations and logic, based on experience.

Building Bridges

Bridging the gap between attorneys and experts starts with building the bridge. I engineer the bridge, make the GPS function and get traffic flowing.

 

* “Expert” is a term of art. This site references “Experts” and “Expert Witness.” These terms include anyone qualified to render a medico-legal opinion and asked to do so in a legal context. Consulting early in the case? Issuing an excellent report? All  precede taking the stand.

 

Where Do We Start?

Forensic Expert Witness Practice Pathway

We talk. We discuss your practice, your goals, my services. No charge.

If you wish to retain my services, we proceed:

 

Structured Interview. I conduct a structured interview with you to elicit a deep understanding of your expertise and goals. This goes beyond our first call, to get to the heart of what matters to you. 

Which cases did you like? What areas of law interest you? Do you like to testify? Do you prefer records review and report-writing?

My questions go into depth because I find an effective plan requires I learn more about you, your background, personality, past experiences, and skills. These may not always be self-evident.

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Your Needs.  I develop with you a “hierarchy of professional needs” (thank you Dr. Maslow). For example, more income may be less important than more interesting cases, or vice versa. 

Fees. We determine your fee structure and retention practices, an area in which I have extensive experience. We would nail down fees, testimony fees, clauses to consider in your retainer contract, retainer policies, best practices.

Reputation Building. In Expert Witness work, a reputation for integrity and knowledge are key. I start by researching what is learned online about the doctor’s reputation and identify methods to establish or build from there. If you have a mostly academic background, your reputation may be wrought larger than even your name.

Research Your Name Recognition. I use my own research techniques to learn if your name appears online and the context. If you have little or no name recognition then your practice development strategy is failing.

Improving Outcome. My research will tell us where we can improve. For example, Google a business you know. See that big box on the right, with contact info? That’s Google MyBusiness-a platform that works only with a person’s name. The benefit of GMB is that it reinforces your name, in a bold manner. And it’s free.

Tools and Services to Help you Navigate

There are a vast array of tools to grow a medical-legal practice. On this site you’ll learn more about what I find works. More importantly though: what works for you? Is a website important for you?  Read more   Does it make sense to list in an Expert Witness Directory? How about Referral Services? Read more   Can attorneys find you online? Let’s develop your “Digital Footprint.”

Curate Meaningful Content. Content is the written, spoken and visual media linked to your name. Curating that content means our working together so you have that control. We develop specific topics to guide your written and presented material–tailored an attorney-reader. Editing your existing material is also helpful. When appropriate, I work with a talented copy editor (not ghostwriter) who specializes in the field.

“Content” includes crafting Bios and Profiles.

Educating You About Social Media steps and missteps. I will explain to you how an expert witness properly uses social media. As a service, a client may ask me to implement a recommended plan. A doctor may, however, prefer to receiving training only.

Maximizing digital visibility with free and paid platforms that are professionally and ethically suitable.  There are an extraordinary number of options. Some are less than reputable. Others are highly reputable. Cost is a consideration. Making good choices is effective.

Research and Data-Based Methods to assess if your existing strategy is effective, ongoing audits to monitor change. (More explanation in The Glossary.) 

Big picture planning, developing your long term goals. Read more

Practice Tools to Streamline the day to day business of a Medical Expert Witness. Systems analysis and concrete advice include timekeeping methods that make reports easier to write, billing methods that improve collecting fees, case management tracking, and more to increase the expert’s bottom line and reduce frustration.

See below for more about Budget. 

I strongly recommend checking out Setting Your Fees: A Medical-Legal Expert Witness Guide.

The work is there: Attorneys tell me there are more cases than qualified experts.

Imagine yourself in an attorney’s shjoes:

Cases circle the negotiating table or go to Court, usually in that sequence.

Whatever the outcome, everyone benefits from a more thorough understanding of medically compelling matters: Jury, Judge, Counsel in Court, and in settlement talks.

The case builds: all legal resolution is preceded by information-gathering. “Discovery” is the legal process.

What do attorneys find when they look for that qualified expert?

A deafening silence.

Solving Someone’s Problem.

Marketing is the anticipation of a need and presenting an easy solution.

This is what she does for attorneys, and that is how she successfully markets her Expert Witness clients.

Every Expert has something to offer. Most are impossible to find.

We are changing that. 

My Background and Bona Fides

Experience

In the trenches with an Expert Witness.  Before I went out on my own as a consultant, I worked with a Forensic Psychiatrist for over a decade, doubling his practice in the first few years. He mentored me in the legal application of medical information. I mentored him in marketing.

Ethics and Practical Science. This doctor was an Associate Professor of Ethics at a renowned medical school, a medical-legal specialist for many decades, seasoned in his field, and skilled in testimony. Together we built a powerhouse practice that honored his guiding principles and practical strengths.

In the trenches with attorneys. All of my experience in medical-legal practice is built on a foundation of 2 decades in law as an attorney whisperer, case manager, and paralegal. I have worked with over a dozen respected law firms, and many dozens of lawyers in a range of legal fields. 

Private Consulting. I have been in practice for 4 years and growing, as a private consultant guiding doctors to build their medical-legal specialty practice. Some are starting a practice; others are established in their field but simply want to acquire more cases or switch to another area of law.

Education; Application to Your Practice 

Delving into the past informs the present. I hold two degrees with honors in complementary fields laser-focused on critical thinking including Interdisciplinary Social Science: the study of how people think, act, and why. I subsequently received a teaching credential.

I use these skills every day to the benefit of my clients.

 

The first year Ms. Vaughan set a marketing plan and my forensic income quadrupled.  I expect my practice will continue to thrive as a result of Ms. Vaughan’s expertise. My practice can no longer be considered a side-gig.

In addition, Ms. Vaughan assisted me with my forensic-relevant website. I recently searched in a private browser words involving psychiatry/ PTSD/ TBI expert witness and local cities and state. It is impossible to not see me. My website is mostly on the first page or 2nd page.

Sanjay Adhia, M.D.

Board-Certified Forensic Psychiatrist and Brain Injury Medicine Expert Witness

Ms. Vaughan tailored a marketing strategy to the needs of my clientele. Many potential clients were “pre-sold” on retaining me as a result of her techniques. My billable forensic hours increased more than 50%. She developed a highly successful website. Ms. Vaughan has unusually diverse skills and developed practice procedures which improved efficiency and results.
Stephen M. Raffle, M.D.

Board-Certified Forensic Psychiatrist, Stephen M. Raffle, M.D. & Associates

Thank you so much for talking to the Fellows. They found it very helpful!

I hope that we can call on you for future groups of fellows!

[Ms. Vaughan Presented on Practice Development to Forensic Psychiatry Fellows, UCSF, 2020, 2021 and 2022]

Renee Binder, M.D.

Professor and Director of Psychiatry and Law Program, UCSF Medical School. Past President of the American Psychiatric Association

Beryl Vaughan was an excellent source of relevant and useful information about how to set up a practice. She gave us valuable advice on how to advertise, networking advice and more. I absolutely would recommend her lectures to anyone interested in establishing their own forensic practice.”

[Ms. Vaughan Presented on Practice Development to Forensic Psychiatry Fellows,UCDavis 2021]

Forensic Psychiatry Fellow

Psychiatrist and Fellow in Forensic Psychiatry Program, University of California, Davis

CORE VALUES

Core Values: The Highest Ethical and Professional Standards

I place the highest priority on ethical, legal, and best professional practices before entering into any strategy for practice development.

Your reputation is on the line and there’s no room for error.

No 800# No Deals, Discounts or Promises

What’s the Difference Between “Advertising” and “Practice Development?”

Preconceptions. I find doctors mistakenly believe

“advertising” > undesirable

“marketing” > slightly more tolerable

“practice development” > comfortable

These terms are laden with preconceptions in a world where integrity is a calling card.

They are, however, synonyms.

Addressing Your Fears

Medicine is a conservative field. AMA policy states advertising by physicians is ethically acceptable. Nevertheless, I find an underlying emotional resistance among doctors to promoting their expertise and name.

I guide my clients in best practices and how to avoid ethical traps from a bad advertising policy.

 

Guiding Principles That Work

Attorneys need expert witnesses who are knowledgeable and qualified, whose opinions, credentials and testimony itself will withstand scrutiny on the stand.

They must be able to find Experts who meet those standards.

Demand for Medical-Legal Experts Outstrips Supply

The justice system demands more medical-legal expertise than there are qualified doctors to provide them. But attorneys don’t always know what they don’t know.

Explaining to Attorneys Your Expertise and Credentials helps Attorneys Make Necessary and Appropriate Decisions. 

1. I strive to help my clients communicate to attorneys your practice expertise, with legal application, in an accessible manner that you can “own” and defend on the stand. This is what I mean by “curating content.”

2. Educating attorneys. 

3. Setting clear and precise goals for the cases and forensic work you want. This includes short-term and long-term plans.

4. Smart identification of attorneys who will retain you. One expert in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry interested in parental alienation is sought by Family Law attorneys and Family Courts. A neurosurgeon interested in surgical standard of care will be sought by medical malpractice and wrongful death litigators (among others,) plaintiff or defense.

5. The internet is a powerful tool. Attorneys rely on the internet and you should too. This is my bailiwick. Otherwise, you are invisible. 

Try the Google selfie test: search yourself by expertise, by name and by location. Are you hard to find?

 

Of interest, JAAPL on “The Risks and Responsible Roles for Psychiatrists Who Interact with the Media.”[3]

[1] Forensic Psychiatry is the only medical Board-Certification requiring education with direct application to law.  Fewer than 4% of all Board-Certified Psychiatrists are Board-Certified in Forensic Psychiatry (about 2000 doctors)  and there are fewer than 320 ABPP Board-Certified Forensic Psychologists.
[2] CLE is “Continuing Legal Education.” It is similar to CME. CLE units are required to maintain a license to practice law.
[3] Brian K. Cooke, Emily R. Goddard, Tonia L. Werner, Erinn O. Cooke, Ezra E. H. Griffith, “The Risks and Responsible Roles for Psychiatrists Who Interact With the Media,” Journal of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law Online Dec 2014, 42 (4) 459-468. 
Useful reading for physicians in other specialties.

Beryl Vaughan, ForensicExpertPro’s Founder, is dedicated to the advancement of professional research, and refinement of standards and guidelines in Forensic Psychiatry. She is a proud contributor to the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law’s AIER (Institute for Education and Research). 

Education is your primary marketing tool

Training and Knowledge is communicated by Content you produce.

What is Content?

  • Articles
  • Case studies
  • Judicious use of social media
  • Video
  • Interviews
  • Webinars
  • Presentations to attorneys at Bar meetings and more
  • Your practice materials: fee schedule, CV, retention contract are all content
  • Website, including browser results

You may be qualified to write about chronic pain, TBI, diminished capacity or any other area of your expertise. Doing so, while staying firmly in your lane, is a powerful tool.

You’re not a generalist. You’re not an amateur. You’re a specialist with specialist skills and information for a trier of fact. Content is where you demonstrate that specialist knowledge.

There are many places to present your content and we can go into more depth when we talk. However, you have the most control over your own website.

Let me be frank: I am not a website salesperson. I build websites. I recommend websites. I feel a bad website puts an expert at risk for a bad outcome. That “bad outcome” could be not getting cases or it could be an uncomfortable moment on the stand. That’s why I’ve set aside a portion of my practice for website development. I bring all of my experience and skill to bear.

Online. We are all looking for resources online. We need answers and substance. Attorneys are no different.

A New Website is CRUCIAL. Almost 100% of the time, attorneys tells me they find the Expert “online.”

Your website can be full of your honors and services. That isn’t enough. Website interactions occur between the visitor and the site content. Visual elements, solid information, resources (formerly known as footnotes) are all part of the “User Experience” or “UX.”

The goal is for the visitor (attorney) to want to stop and read your hard work with meaning. This is achieved by supplying informative material attorneys may not yet know they need. Or answering questions attorneys ask but go unanswered.

I have worked with website developers all over the world and they are not equal. Many are brilliant at executing a site. Others are brilliant at designing a dazzling site. None understand medical-legal work. I am always involved to make sure a website is appropriate and legally defensible. It is hands-on.

Website Audit. You may have a website already. We will review it to make sure it provides an informative and good user experience for attorneys.

The Company You Keep

Search Forensic [fill in what you do] and you will be hard-pressed to find more than a few dozen individual doctors with a website. It is an enormous benefit to have a beautiful and functional website.

  • When your website speaks to attorneys, the path between expert and retention is shortened. I.e., you waste less time.
  • A website is 100% your own; you control communication of your expertise, and it’s working for you 24 hours a day. There’s no better resource for your clients More
CV outdated

Online and Offline CV

A CV for medical-legal work is quite different from a CV in an academic or clinical setting.

A CV should address what the attorney wants to know first. That’s where I start.

Rearranging information

I have reorganized many CVs for medical-legal practice purposes. You should consider a dedicated CV.

Most doctors have one CV serve a multitude of purposes. The academic CV or job search CV, however, are very different from one another. Let’s clarify your experience for the attorney.

Nuts and Bolts: read more about the right way to layout a CV so attorneys are less frustrated and find what is most important first. READ MORE

Websites and an “About” page. The CV you add to a website mirrors your paper CV, with added organization through the use of color and layout you control on your website.

READ MORE

CV outdated

Online and Offline CV

A CV for medical-legal work is quite different from a CV in an academic or clinical setting.

A CV should address what the attorney wants to know first. That’s where I start.

Rearranging information

I have reorganized more CVs than rewritten them. That is the heart of the medical-legal CV.

Yet, most doctors have one CV serve a multitude of purposes.

Read more about the right way to layout a CV so attorneys are less frustrated and find what is most important first. READ MORE

Ubiquitous “About” page. the CV you add to a website mirrors your paper CV, with added organization through the use of color and layout you control on your website.

READ MORE

cost forensic medical-legal practice psychiatry psychology charges fees

Business Consulting Services: Best-Practices for a Better Bottom Line

There is a right way and a wrong way to approach billing, timekeeping, document management, even administrative communication.

The “Right Way” means ethical and effective practices behind a healthy bottom line. How you run your business respects an attorney’s budget. It also makes your life easier. 

I am a business consultant.

cost forensic medical-legal practice psychiatry psychology charges fees

Business Consulting Services: Best-practices for a better bottom line

There is a right way and a wrong way to approach billing, timekeeping, document management, even administrative communication.

The “Right Way” means ethical and effective practices behind a healthy bottom line. How you run your business respects an attorney’s budget. It also makes your life easier. 

I am a business consultant.

cost forensic medical-legal practice psychiatry psychology charges fees

Budget

Your budget is set after we discuss the intersection of our recommendations and your goals.

This is not as vague as it sounds. I am knowledgeable about the costs associated with my recommendations, to help you determine a wise application of your budget. Ultimately, cost is directed at the best return on your investment.

I won’t make a recommendation we don’t think will benefit you.

Tip: the most expensive options are not always the most effective. There are free resources to place you where attorneys can find you. Google MyBusiness, for example, is free. Some referral directories are free to list and are reputable, used by attorneys to find qualified experts.

cost forensic medical-legal practice psychiatry psychology charges fees

Budget

Your budget is set after we discuss the intersection of our recommendations and your goals.

This is not as vague as it sounds. I am knowledgeable about the costs associated with my recommendations, to help you determine a wise application of your budget. Ultimately, cost is directed at the best return on your investment.

I won’t make a recommendation we don’t think will benefit you.

Tip: the most expensive options are not always the most effective. There are free resources to place you where attorneys can find you. Google MyBusiness, for example, is free. Some referral directories are free to list and are reputable, used by attorneys to find qualified experts.