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.

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20 years

Lawyer-wrangling, case-wrangling.

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

Phone

eryl Vaughan consults to Forensic Psychiatrists, Psychologists and Physicians in other Medical Specialties.

WHY? 

I  found attorneys were struggling to understand who was the right choice for an Expert Witness in their case. Doctors didn’t know either.

Doctors were missing a chance to fill in that gap.

Attorneys reported the search for an expert is a literal and emotional drain on the attorney. In hundreds of phone calls.

Yet they were obligated to provide their clients with the best possible representation.

Doctors found fielding calls, or looking at a silent phone, was also a literal and emotional drain on the doctor’s mental health.

Bridging the gap between attorneys and experts starts with building the bridge. I’m a bridge builder. Getting traffic flowing is the focus of my services.

Services and Expertise

  • Interview. I conduct a unique interview with my client-forensic physicians, designed to elicit a deep understanding of my client’s expertise and goals.
  • Maslow’s Heirarchy of Your Needs.  We develop your hierarchy of professional needs (thank you Dr. Maslow).
  • Fees. Determining together your fee structure and retention practices.
  • Reputation Building. Reputation enhancement strategies.
  • Name Recognition for the Expert in the legal community
  • Navigating Expert Witness Directories and Referral Services so my clients make informed decisions they can defend on the stand.
  • Website audit and improvement. New website development.
  • Curate Meaningful Content. Developing specific topics to guide a doctor’s written and presented material for an attorney-reader. Editing the physician’s subsequent material.
  • Crafting Bios and Profiles
  • Educating about Social Media steps and missteps. Implementation of an effective plan.
  • Maximizing digital visibility with free and paid platforms that are professionally and ethically suitable.
  • Research and Data-Based Methods to assess if your existing strategy is effective, ongoing audits to monitor change. (More explanation in our glossary.)    
  • Big picture planning, determining with the expert long term goals and short-term solutions.
  • Practice Tools to Streamline the Expert’s day to day business. Systems analysis and concrete advice including billing methods, case management tracking, and more to increase the expert’s bottom line and reduce frustration. 

The Author and Bona Fides

In the trenches with an Expert Witness. I worked with a Forensic Psychiatrist for over a decade, doubling his practice in the first few years. He mentored me in the nuances of the field. I mentored him in the nuances of inviting an attorney call.

Ethics and Practical Science. He 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.

In the trenches with attorneys. All experience 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 lawyers in their fields. 

Private Consulting. I have been in practice for 4 years and growing as a private consultant guiding doctors to build their -legal specialty practice.

My Education. Why it Matters. 

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 insurance, 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

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14 years

Consulting with Forensic Experts to build and enhance a Reputable and Profitable Business. Special expertise and experience in Medicine, Forensic Psychiatry and Psychology.

p

20 years

Lawyer-wrangling, case-wrangling. Business development and Practice Management. Best practices. Return on Investment. Profitability. Efficiency and Hassle-reduction.

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THE GUIDE TO GET MORE FORENSIC CASES

SERVICES AND CORE VALUES

Core Values: The Highest Ethical and Professional Standards

We 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.

Not a Billboard

No 800#

No Deals, Discounts or Promises

Advertising vs. Practice Development

Semantics. I find doctors mistakenly believe “advertising” to be undesirable, “marketing” more tolerable, and “practice development” comfortable.

They are, however, synonyms. None, however, have anything to do with retail sales, and never will.

“Advertising” vs. “Marketing” vs. “Practice Development” are terms laden with preconceptions.

Addressing Your Fears

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

The message is serious, but practical strategies must accomplish the end goal: that attorneys can find the Expert, understand the scope of their expertise, and pick up the phone.

I guide my clients to be accessible to attorneys while avoiding potential ethical traps in a bad advertising policy.

 

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

Filling a Need, with Methods That Drive Our Services

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.

That is the focus of our Services. >Learn more.

Demand for Medical-Legal Experts Outstrips Supply

The justice system demands more medical-legal expertise than there are qualified doctors to provide them.

In fact, dedicated training in the interface of medicine (psychiatry) and law exists only for Psychiatrists and Forenisc Psychologists.[1] There is no Board-Certification in Forensic application of other areas of medical practice. These physicians will need a different calling card.

Solving a Problem for Attorneys. Attorneys don’t know what they don’t know. Our strategy is to change the equation by educating them in a manner that is easy to find.

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

 1. Promoting an online presence. Attorneys can only call you if they find you. Otherwise, you are invisible. Try the Google selfie test: search yourself by expertise, by name and by location. This will tell you if your current approach is working. If you are hard to find, we can help change that using tools like Google MyBusiness, website SEO, promotion on multiple platforms which synergize to produce a bigger digital footprint.

2. Communicate to attorneys your practice expertise, with legal application, in an accessible manner that you can “own” and defend on the stand. 

3. Educating attorneys about your field and medico-legal topics generally. An article that describes PTSD, for example, may be more relevant than your About page or CV.

4. Setting clear goals for the cases and forensic work you want. For example, a doctor who focuses on child and adolescent psychiatry, with an interest in parental alienation is different from the doctor interested in family dynamics and Undue Influence cases.

5. Identifying those who will retain you for the work you want. In the first example above, Family Law attorneys and Family Courts are of greater relevance than Probate attorneys. In the second case, however, Probate attorneys and Probate Courts are precisely those we pursue.

Unexpected Cases that Require a Forensic Expert Witness in Medicine including Psychiatry, and Psychology and Neuropsychology, are addressed in “When is your Forensic Medical Opinion Needed?”

Being Findable: 

Expert Directories and Referral Services: Separating Trash from Treasure. Learn more.

Effective website. 

Presentations and Multi-Media.  Curating and Coordinating.

Public speaking and multi-media presentations are powerful when topic and audience are well suited.

I work closely with my clients to determine local and national venues, such as

  • Local Bar Associations
  • Bar Committee events
  • Law firm Committee lunches and presentations
  • Panel discussions with attorneys. CLE [2] presentations will have the greatest attendance.

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

Social Media, Used Judiciously. Social Media is not to be taken lightly, but it can be a case-producing resource. Hints: Skip Twitter and Instagram. Let’s talk about LinkedIn

First steps to develop a nuanced strategy

I start with an in-depth structured interview with you. 

The more I know about you, your background, personality, past experiences, future goals, the more effective will be the practice development strategy. 

 

 [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 also 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. CookeEmily R. GoddardTonia L. WernerErinn O. CookeEzra E. H. Griffith, “The Risks and Responsible Roles for Psychiatrists Who Interact With the Media,” 

Education is your primary marketing tool

Training and Knowledge is your stock in trade and it is communicated by Content you produce.

What is Content?

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

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

The meat of your communication–whatever the media or platform–is at the heart of a successful practice-development strategy.

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

Other articles on this website go into greater detail about Content. Articles and presentations are self-evident Content. Less obvious is the content that hides in plain sight.

Online and Offline CV is Both Content and Education

Through the use of your CV, you can teach attorneys about both you AND your profession

Clearly your CV is educating an attorney about your qualifications, but it also educates about your field in particular. Your academic credentials may differ from another expert in your field.  

This opens a conversation with the attorney in which you can explain more.  All interesting and positive conversations with attorneys are practice-development tools that go well beyond the CV. 

A New Website.  We work hand in glove with you and a trusted web developer to create / improve a website attorneys will stop to read. Your website can be full of your honors and services. That isn’t enough. Website interactions occur between the visitor and the site content. The goal is for the visitor to want to stop and read. To actually stop and read. To be interested and pick up the phone. 

In medical-legal work, the interaction occurs because the material on the website, written and visual, speaks to the attorney’s interest vis-a-vis her or his case(s). It is not a retail site and never should be. It won’t look like the Department of Motor Vehicles or even the site of an attorney. It is essential to work with a website developer who understands the nuances. 

We have worked with website developers all over the world. Many are brilliant at executing a site. Others are brilliant at designing a dazzling site. We are always involved to make sure a website is appropriate and legally defensible.

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
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–practices that are defensible on the stand.  Business consulting is a service we offer.

cost forensic medical-legal practice psychiatry psychology charges fees

Budgeting a Marketing Plan

Budget

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

This is not as vague as it sounds. We are experienced with the costs associated with each recommendation, to help you decide a wise application of your budget. Ultimately, cost is directed at the best return on your investment.

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

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 used by attorneys to find qualified experts, and do not charge the expert to be listed.

SERVICES AND CORE VALUES

Core Values: The Highest Ethical and Professional Standards

We 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.

Not a Billboard or an 800#: Advertising vs. Practice Development

“Advertising” vs. “Marketing” vs. “Practice Development” are terms laden with preconceptions to serious Experts in Forensic Medical professions.

There is no sales pitch, no deal, no jingle.

I find doctors mistakenly believe “advertising” to be undesirable, “marketing” more tolerable, and “practice development” comfortable. They are, however, synonyms. The distinction is practice development has nothing whatsoever to do with retail sales, and never will.

Whatever words you use, the terms describe methods to introduce the Expert to attorneys. The message is serious, but the methods must accomplish the end goal: attorneys can find the Expert, understand the scope of their expertise, and pick up the phone.

Attorneys report how difficult, even random, it is to find a forensic expert experienced in the feature of a particular case. Board-Certified sub-specialists are even harder to find.

I guide my clients to be accessible to attorneys while avoiding potential ethical traps in a bad advertising policy.

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

Services

Attorneys need expert witnesses who are knowledgeable and qualified, whose opinions, credentials and testimony itself will withstand scrutiny on the stand. And they must be able to find Experts who meet those standards. That is the focus of our Services. >Learn more.

Teaching to the Demand Which Outstrips Supply

The justice system demands more medical-legal expertise than there are qualified doctors to provide them. For example, Forensic Psychiatry is the only medical Board-Certification requiring education with direct application to law.  Fewer than 4% of all Board-Certified Psychiatrists are also Board-Certified in Forensic Psychiatry (about 2000 doctors)  and there are fewer than 350 Board-Certified Forensic Psychologists.

There is no Board-Certification in Forensic application of other areas of medical practice. These physicians will need a different calling card.

1. Promoting an online presence. We use tried and true resources to that end. Attorneys can only call you if they find you. Otherwise, you are invisible. Try the Google selfie test by expertise, and, separately, by name. This will tell you if your current approach is working.

2. Communicate to attorneys your practice expertise, with legal application, in an accessible manner that you can “own” and defend on the stand.

3. Educating attorneys about your field and medico-legal topics generally.

4. Setting clear goals for the cases and forensic work you want. For example, a doctor who focuses on child and adolescent psychiatry, with an interest in parental alienation is different from the doctor interested in family dynamics and Undue Influence cases.

5. Identifying those who will retain you for the work you want. In example 4, Family Law attorneys and Family Courts are of greater relevance than Probate attorneys. Probate attorneys and Probate Court are precisely those we pursue.

Unexpected Cases that Require a Forensic Expert Witness in Medicine including Psychiatry, and Psychology and Neuropsychology, are addressed in “When is your Forensic Medical Opinion Needed?”

Being Findable: 

Expert Directories and Referral Services: Separating Trash from Treasure. Learn more.

Effective website. 

Presentations and Multi-Media.  Curating and Coordinating.

Public speaking and multi-media presentations are powerful when topic and audience serve the marketing goal.

We research venues, such as local Bar Associations, Bar Committee events, and other audiences interested in the information you have to share and identify topics that marry your experience with attorneys working on a suitable type of case.

Of interest, JAAPL on “The Risks and Responsible Roles for Psychiatrists Who Interact with the Media.”[1]

Social Media, Used Judiciously. Social Media is not to be taken lightly, but it can be a case-producing resource. Hints: Skip Twitter and Instagram. Let’s talk about LinkedIn

First steps to develop a nuanced strategy

We start with an in-depth interview with you.

The more we know about you, the more effective will be the practice development strategy. It is the first step before we build a best plan of action to reach your special, unique goals.

Spend Your Money Wisely

Budget

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

This is not as vague as it sounds. We are experienced with the costs associated with each recommendation, to help you decide a wise application of your budget. Ultimately, cost is directed at the best return on your investment.

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

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 used by attorneys to find qualified experts, and do not charge the expert to be listed.

Education is a marketing tool–the only marketing tool.

Training and Knowledge is your stock in trade and it is communicated by Content.

What is Content?

  • Articles
  • Case studies
  • Judicious use of social media
  • Video
  • Interviews
  • Webinars
  • Presentations to attorneys
  • Presentations to law firms

Any and all of these has the power to make a true connection with your client. Whether you are qualified to write about chronic pain, TBI or diminished capacity, doing so is a powerful tool.

Guiding you to develop “content” starts with our learning, in depth, your professional strengths and knowledge base.

We plug this into what attorneys tell us they need to know. This is our trademark “Cross-Over Analysis.”  Bearing your goals in mind, we define a focus for the impactful material you can produce.  You write. We help with services in professionally-sound scope and background services in copy-editing. Also, an annoying attitude about the use of apostrophes.

Online CV and an Attorney-Friendly Website

When a client doesn’t have a website or has a website that is not producing enough work, I draw on the responses of hundreds of attorneys, to create a website that is a powerful addition to a marketing plan.

New Website.  Working closely with my client, a web developer they may choose, or one or two of my trusted web developers to create / improve a website that is a powerful addition to a marketing plan.

Website Audit. You may have a website. We will review it to make sure it maximizes your strengths and provides a comfortable experience to an attorney trying to learn about you.

Few forensic psychiatrists and psychologists, or forensic physicians in any field, have a website. Did you do the Google selfie suggested above? If not, try it!

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

  • When your website speaks to attorneys specifically, the path between expert and retention is shortened.
  • A website is most powerful when it is tailored to display the expertise you bring to the judicial table.
    • 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

 

[1] Brian K. CookeEmily R. GoddardTonia L. WernerErinn O. CookeEzra E. H. Griffith, “The Risks and Responsible Roles for Psychiatrists Who Interact With the Media,” 

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.

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 that while profitable, do not compromise your integrity.  Business consulting is a service we offer.

[1] Brian K. CookeEmily R. GoddardTonia L. WernerErinn O. CookeEzra E. H. Griffith, “The Risks and Responsible Roles for Psychiatrists Who Interact With the Media,” 

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