Practice Development for Medical Expert Witnesses
Beryl Vaughan, Consultant
Nationwide

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

15 years

Consulting with Medical Expert Witnesses to build and enhance a Reputable and Profitable Practice. Additional Focus: Forensic Mental Health Experts.

20 years

Lawyer-whisperer, case-wrangling for top attorneys in boutique and white shoe law firms.

Growing and Adapting Your Medical-Legal Practice

Helping Medical Expert Witnesses for more than 15 years

Beryl Vaughan consults and assists Physician Specialists to grow their Forensic or Medical-Legal Practice:

  • Civil Litigation
  • Criminal
  • Military
  • Occupational
  • Unique niche venues

She applies additional focus on the practices of Forensic Psychiatry and Forensic Psychology with subspecialty training.

Ms. Vaughan draws on 15 years of experience. 

Is there medical- legal work for you?

Yes

Attorneys report there are more cases than qualified experts. Demand outstrips supply in many medical specialties. Doctors with dedicated forensic training and testimony experience are difficult to find.

What Attorneys Say

Attorneys report the search for an expert is an emotional drain, and often proves wasted time.

In fact, about 60% of attorneys tell me they often retain the first doctor who answers their call or voicemail message.

Could frustration and pressure drive expert witness choices, not the attorney making a wise and considered choice?

Due Process. An attorney is constitutionally obligated to provide their client with the best possible representation. That means a solidly qualified Expert Witness in an appropriate discipline.

Solution

When we make the process of finding the appropriate medical Expert Witness less burdensome, attorneys call. Simple.

What Doctors Say

  • Fielding attorney calls is tiring and time-consuming; a silent phone is stressful.
  • Most marketing decisions are guesswork.
  • The process is an emotional drain.

Understanding Practice Development is Not Intuitive

I have spent many years perfecting techniques for my medico-legal clients to grow their practice. These skills are not in the environment of medical practice or medical education. Doctors don’t, and shouldn’t have to, learn marketing while practicing medicine. 

*“Expert” is a term of art used interchangeably to include a disclosed  Expert Witness or include anyone qualified to render a medico-legal opinion in any venue. 

How Does this work? Where Do We Start?

Forensic Expert Witness Practice Pathway

Informal call

We have a (gratis) call to discuss your practice and goals and my services.

Ready to proceed?

You review my retention contract. Once you have retained me, we schedule a structured interview to help me zero in on a strategy that works for you.

Structured Interview

An in-depth video conference to develop a deeper understanding of your day-to-day medical practice, and current forensic practice. What we will discuss:

    • Which cases do you like? Which part of your medical practice most interests you? Which cases do I believe you might like and what is your response?
      • Areas of law that interest you. You might be surprised to learn about unfamiliar but on-point cases for you.
      • Your feelings about testimony. What is your experience? Was it fun, not fun? Would training make a difference? Do you prefer records review and report-writing?
      • Your strengths. In talking with you and getting a feel for your communication style, we can pinpoint your strengths to maximize and communicate them to attorneys, and turnaround what isn’t working for you.
      • Your professional and personal needs. For example, more income may be less important than more interesting cases, or vice versa. You might want more time at home with your family–a common reason my clients express.
        • How do you run your business? What do you charge? How do you manage retention?
The Nitty Gritty of a Successful Strategy

Reputation Building and Name Recognition.

In Expert Witness work, a reputation for integrity and knowledge is key.

Your name must be associated with that reputation to have a successful practice.

An audit is my next stop: to determine what is found about your medical, and med-legal, reputation. This is crucial because it also reveals what attorneys will find, so we can min/max decisions.

Strategy

The audit, research and structured interview together inform my recommendations, and a strategy that we collaboratively develop.

A practice plan has moving parts but all are not complicated or even expensive. A realistic tiered budget reflects the scope of my work. If money is a concern, I can train you to max out what you can do yourself.

What You’ll Find On This Site

Free practice-development resources are low-hanging fruit. Read about more freebies

The meaning and role of content development. Content is the written, spoken and visual material linked to your name. It is how attorneys learn about you, and from you. Data shows that relevant and informative content online is possibly the single most valuable digital tool.

Websites are only one method to communicate with attorneys. However, by learning more about websites, you will learn more about content in the big picture of growing your practice.  Learn more about the importance of educational writing in practice development.

Do you need a website? Learn more about the importance of a website in practice development.

Is an Expert Witness Directory a Good Idea? How about Referral Services? What’s the difference? Read more about Expert Witness Directories and Referral Services, to decide what’s right for you. 

Your Digital Footprint.  Can attorneys find you online? Or in real life?

This is called SEO or “Search Engine Optimization.” When an attorney searches for an expert in your field, whose name will appear and where? SEO is intended to move your name higher in results.

Google selfie test: search yourself by expertise, name, and location. What you find is what attorneys will find.) Read more

Whether you’re a psychiatrist or a surgeon, attorneys welcome education about your area of medicine and expertise as it applies to their case.

Social Media. Help! Social Media is a slippery slope. Sometimes I help my clients winnow out their presence on Social Media, or winnow “in” to the only Social Media platform for a professional practice, LinkedIn. A Social Media strategy can be DIY but it can be a drain on your time. That’s why I manage social media for my clients, as needed.

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. A medical-legal practice builds over time, getting better with each passing year and gained experience. It’s helpful for us to develop long term goals. Options for the newcomer or veteran: The Long Game Plan. Read more

How much should you charge? Read more about “Setting Your Fees: A Medical-Legal Expert Witness Guide”.

Fees and Contracts, Bookkeeping and Timekeeping; Nuts and Bolts. From retention and billing best practices to case management–every aspect of your practice is a chance to build a better relationship with attorneys. Learn more in the “Nuts and Bolts of Running a Medical-Legal Practice”

 

The first year Ms. Vaughan set a marketing plan and my forensic income quadrupled.  My practice continued to grow and thrive as a result of Ms. Vaughan’s expertise.

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 and 2022]

Forensic Psychiatry Fellow

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

My Background and Bona Fides

Before I went out on my own as a consultant, I was mentored in Forensic Psychiatry by a highly regarded Forensic Psychiatrist and UCSF Clinical Professor of Psychiatry. I’m not a physician but he was a good teacher.  I mentored him in marketing and running a more profitable business.

We built a powerhouse practice that honored the guiding principles of ethical and legally sound forensic medicine. Cases doubled in just a few years.  Exhilarating stuff.

Marketing the serious medicolegal practice is where I thrive. That enthusiasm and skill are how I help my clients succeed.

Where did I learn how attorneys think? I have worked with respected, high-profile attorneys in areas of law from tax law, probate and estate planning, litigation and contracts. Insight into your attorney clients is the foundation of getting results for my medicolegal clients.

Liberal Arts is a Thing of Beauty. I apply critical thinking and study of human behavior to my trade learned many decades ago with 2 Degrees in the study of how people think, act, and why. Read more  

 

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.

To develop your practice ethically, it’s essential to understand preconceptions and misconceptions about “Advertising,” “Marketing,” and “Practice Development.” Doctors tell me

“advertising” > undesirable

“marketing” > slightly more tolerable

“practice development” > comfortable

They are, in fact, synonyms. To best serve jurisprudence, I am committed to ensuring my clients don’t fall into ethical traps from poor  advertising/marketing/practice-development choices.

 

 

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

Beryl Vaughan is ForensicExpertPro. She 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). 

More Ideas That Work…

Collaboration doubles your resources.

Connect with Attorneys in Real Life

Making personal contact builds real-life relationships with attorneys. The devil is in the details.

A meeting, a call, personal emails (not mailings), seminars, attending mutually interesting events.  There’s a reason connection is last on this list. Everything above lays the groundwork. We help you with concrete methods to introduce yourself to attorneys and build a referral base.

There’s no substitute for face-to-face human contact.

CV outdated

Online and Offline CV

A CV for medical-legal work is quite different from a CV in an academic or clinical setting. You might even have one CV for job searches!

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

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

The “About” Page. The CV you add to a website usually appears on an “About” page. What’s found there must mirror your paper CV because it’s all admissible on the stand. Content will be the same, but words on a monitor can be organized through the use of color and layout so it is visually engaging. One of the perks of a website, by the way.

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. You might even have one CV for job searches!

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

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

The “About” Page. The CV you add to a website usually appears on an “About” page. What’s found there must mirror your paper CV because it’s all admissible on the stand. Content will be the same, but words on a monitor can be organized through the use of color and layout so it is visually engaging. One of the perks of a website, by the way.

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.

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