Practice Development for Medical Expert Witnesses
Beryl Vaughan, Consultant
Nationwide

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

15 years

Consulting with Psychiatry Expert Witnesses to build and enhance a Reputable and Successful Forensic Psychiatric or Psychology Practice.*

20 years

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

Helping Forensic Psychiatrists and Medical Specialists in all fields as an Educator and Business Development Consultant.

Garner cases in 

  • Civil Litigation
  • Criminal
  • Military Court
  • Occupational
  • Unique venues (FFD, DBA, TA)

I am a private consultant in marketing a medical-legal practice – new and established.  Drawing on 15 years’ of experience I focus on successful and best practices exclusive to the medicolegal evaluator and Expert Witness.

Forensic Psychiatrists are the bulk of my clients, but I also work with specialists in other areas of medicine on a case-by-case basis.

Each specialty and each doctor has a distinct and nuanced services to offer, and appeal for attorneys. I develop strategies that suit the doctor, and the retaining attorney’s behavior.

Please read on for my bona fides and the work I do for my clients. 

–Beryl Vaughan

What You Need to Know

There is plenty of medical-legal work for you

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

“It’s too hard to find the right expert witness.”

Attorneys report the search for an expert 1 is an emotional drain, and too often a waste of time.

In fact, about 60% of attorneys tell me they often retain the first doctor who answers their call or voicemail message. Their ethical obligations to their own client, however, may suffer.2

Could frustration and pressure drive expert witness selection, not the attorney making a wise and considered choice? We can change the experience for them.

Attorneys prefer solutions over guesswork

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

What Doctors Report

  • Marketing decisions are not intuitive. They avoid some choices for fear it will make them appear greedy or unprofessional. They are…guessing.
  • Fielding attorney calls is tiring and time-consuming; a silent phone is stressful.
  • Just like attorneys, doctors find the process to be an emotional drain.

Sound familiar?

Solutions

“Practice Development” means assembling a strategy that bridges the navigation between attorney and doctor. Any strategy begins with the attorney’s perspective–where and how will an attorney find the doctors? What tools ensure that happens?

I have spent many years perfecting techniques for my clients to grow their practice. These skills are not in the environment of medical practice or medical education.

Further, ethical best practices are especially important when you may have to testify about your marketing decisions. I am a student of ethics (informally) in the field of marketing a forensic practice.

I know that a reputation for integrity and objectivity is a crucial feature of what you bring to the table and strategies to grow your practice can easily incorporate these values.

 

1. “Expert” is a term of art, used interchangeably on this site with “Expert Witness” or Medicolegal consultant.

2. An ethical attorney provides their client with the best possible representation including a solidly qualified Expert in the appropriate discipline. That does not mean the process is easy or even possible–within the scope of the attorney’s skillset.

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.

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 is most gratifying?
      • What areas of law interest you, or might interest you?
      • Your feelings about testimony, writing reports, reviewing records for casual attorney consultations. What is your experience so far? Was it fun, not fun?
      • Your strengths. In talking with you, I get a feel for your communication style. This has significant impact on how we will showcase those strengths and actions you can take to enhance and develop the skills you’ll need.
      • 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.  Also, many doctors express a desire to balance clinical and forensic work.
      • 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 game plan.

Constructing a Strategy

I synthesize all that I have learned from you and develop a strategy to create the practice you are seeking, and perhaps suggest a few goals that weren’t on your radar.

Once we agree on the plan, we

Make a timeline
Develop a budget
Assign tasks
Establish benchmarks to assess data and results

Start.

The Nitty Gritty of a Successful Strategy

Reputation Building and Name Recognition.

In Expert Witness work, a reputation for integrity and knowledge is key.  Marketing must always reflect your reputation. In fact, marketing begins with your reputation with the goal to enhance it, never conflate it.

Your name must be associated with that solid reputation to have a successful practice. Promoting the hallmarks of your good reputation is the result of tangible steps.

Strategy

Whenever I develop a plan of action, I conduct an audit to determine what attorneys are finding about you. As a physician and as a “private citizen.” Tip: perform your own audit. From your web browser search A. Your name B. Your area of practice + “expert witness.”   Easy to Find: The most crucial strategy of all

The audit, research and structured interview together inform my recommendations.

A practice plan has moving parts but all are not complicated or even expensive. A realistic budget and plan of action precede next steps.

Details You’ll Find On This Site

Free practice-development resources. Read about more freebies

The meaning and role of content development. Content is the written, spoken and visual material linked to your name. Data shows that relevant and informative content is possibly the single most valuable digital tool for med-legal experts.  The importance of educational writing in practice development.

Do you need a website? The role of a website in practice development. You might be surprised.

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.  Breaking down my audit so attorneys can find you online and in real life.

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. Navigating Social Media

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.

How much should you charge? “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 including 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 regardless of the words used to describe our tasks.

 

 

[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 about the Med-Legal CV. 

The “About” Page. The CV you add to a website usually appears on an “About” page and is abbreviated in a bio that might be on the Home page. What’s found there must mirror your CV because it establishes credentials and is admissible on the stand. On a website, however, concepts and categories (“Education,” “Experience,” etc.) 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 about the “digital CV” as it appears on your website.

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 about the Med-Legal CV. 

The “About” Page. The CV you add to a website usually appears on an “About” page and is abbreviated in a bio that might be on the Home page. What’s found there must mirror your CV because it establishes credentials and is admissible on the stand. On a website, however, concepts and categories (“Education,” “Experience,” etc.) 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 about the “digital CV” as it appears on your website.

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. I am a business consultant.

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. Further, you need to consider insurance in a medical-legal setting, and an appropriate retention contract to protect you and manage the scope of your work.

I also work with legal and other consultants in adjacent fields to help my clients when they need services outside my qualifications.

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. I am a business consultant.

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. Further, you need to consider insurance in a medical-legal setting, and an appropriate retention contract to protect you and manage the scope of your work.

I also work with legal and other consultants in adjacent fields to help my clients when they need services outside my qualifications.

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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