Practice Development for Expert Witnesses
Beryl Vaughan, Consultant
Nationwide

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

15 years

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

20 years

Lawyer-whisperer, case-wrangling.

Business Development and Practice Management with attorneys. Focus: Best practices, Return on Investment. Profitability, Efficiency and Hassle-reduction.

Growing and Adapting Your Medical-Legal Practice

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.

Is there work for you to grow your med-legal practice? Yes.

Attorneys are searching endlessly for the right Medical-Legal Expert. It’s  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. Unlike a “Disclosed Expert Witness” a medical-legal consultant is a doctor who provides insight and findings to an attorney earlier in the case. Laws governing consultants are different than those that govern disclosed expert witnesses.

 

Where Do We Start?

Forensic Expert Witness Practice Pathway

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

Ready to proceed?

Structured Interview.  I elicit a deeper understanding of your expertise and goals through an interview.

  • What do you you most enjoy doing, professionally?
  • Which cases do you like? Which cases do I believe you might like?
  • What areas of law interest you? 
  • Do you like to testify? Do you prefer records review and report-writing?
  • What are your strengths? How we can maximize strengths and turn around what isn’t working for you.
  • What are your professional and personal needs? For example, more income may be less important than more interesting cases, or vice versa. 
  • How do you run your business? What do you charge? How do you manage retention? 
  • What are your long-term goals? Let’s make some! A medical-legal practice builds over time, getting better with each passing year and gained experience. Learn about a long-term gameplan. Read more

 

Next Stop: 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.

“Reputation” and “name recognition” are intertwined. Let’s see what attorneys learn about your colleagues, and about you.

I start with a unique research method to determine what is found online about your medical, and med-legal, reputation. Is your name found? What does it convey? Is it clear you provide unbiased medical-legal opinions? Anticipating what attorneys will find is an opportunity to ensure it is helpful to all involved.

Improving Outcome on a Budget.

The research will tell us where we can improve. A practice plan has moving parts but all are not complicated or even expensive. We create the budget that reflects the scope of my work and, if money is a concern, I can train you to max out what you can do yourself.

Free.  There are free and easy tasks you can do to improve results: an accurate NPI listing. Location online is notoriously wrong. Databases like Doximity, once corrected, feed information to sites all over the internet. Fix it to build geographic traction. Have you tapped Google MyBusiness (sic)? Another free resource. Navigating social media can be effective or dangerous and they don’t charge you to post. I’ll help you know the difference and tap the best. Read about more freebies

Delivering Relevant Content Paves the Fastest Path

Content is the written, spoken and visual media linked to your name. It is how attorneys find out

  • Who you are
  • What you know
  • Your qualifications, and
  • If your expertise speaks to the facts of their case.

Curate Meaningful Content You Control.

Content Delivery Systems

Content can be delivered on a computer or in a courtroom.

Is a website important for you? It can be your workhorse; a website works for you 24/7 and you determine 100% of the content. You own it. You control it.  Read more

Is an Expert Witness Directory a Good Idea? How about Referral Services? What’s the difference? Bios and profiles –even a portrait are the content of a Directory or other expert listing platform. Again-Content you control and no one else.  Read more  

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

Developing a Digital Footprint” is another form of content delivery. (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.

This is the heart and soul of expert witness marketing: Education founded on knowledge, delivered with integrity, to an attorney, jury or judge.

 

 

Social Media Help!

Educating You About Social Media steps and missteps. I advise my clients about the proper way to use Social Media in an expert witness practice.

Social Media is a slippery slope.

Sometimes I help my clients winnow out their presence on Social Media.

Or incorporate something new.

If it makes sense to address Social Media, I develop the approach and a client may ask me to implement it. Alternatively, a doctor may prefer to receive training, which I’m happy to provide, and handle things DIY.

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

See below for more about Budget. 

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

Fees and Contracts, Bookkeeping and Timekeeping; Nuts and Bolts. We build a fee structure and retention practices so your practice runs smoothly. From retention best practices to case management–every aspect of your practice is a chance to build a better relationship with attorneys. Your name will be shared among attorneys, they will come back with repeat business, and a solid system can enhance your business results.

 

Is there really medical legal work for you?

Yes. Attorneys tell me there are more cases than qualified experts. Demand outstrips supply in most medical specialties.

Imagine yourself in an attorney’s shoes: your case is building and legal resolution is preceded by information-gathering. Getting the information starts with an expert witness.

If they can find the right person.

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

Silence.

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

Solving Someone’s Problem.

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

This is what I do for my clients–to ease that burden for attorneys by guiding them to a solution: that might be you.

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

In the trenches with an Expert Witness.  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 and Ethics. I’m not a physician but he was a good teacher. 

He mentored me in the legal application of medical information. 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 is 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.

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.

 

 

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.

I touch on “content” above, but what is it and how do you use “it” to educate? 

  • 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.

The goal is for the reader–or person “consuming” the material — to want to stop and read your hard work with meaning. What is written to interest attorneys will filter for attorneys. This is achieved by supplying informative material attorneys need. Or answering questions attorneys ask, but which go unanswered. 

You’re not a generalist. You’re not an amateur. You’re a specialist with specialist Content is where you demonstrate that specialist knowledge.

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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