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 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.

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. It’s helpful for us to develop Long term goals. Read more

 

Next Stop: The Nitty Gritty of a Successful Strategy

Fees and Contracts; 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.

Reputation Building and Name Recognition.

In Expert Witness work, a reputation for integrity and knowledge are key. I use a unique research strategy to determine what is found online about your medical, and med-legal, reputation. Is your name found? It should convey you do med-legal work. Contact information can be made easy. Anticipating what attorneys will find is an opportunity to ensure it is helpful to all involved.

Improving Outcome on a Budget.

My 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, if your expertise matches the facts of their case. I guide my clients to the content I know from experience attorneys will want to find. For most, you don’t control all the content online about you. But there is content you can control and this is where you can shine.

Curate Meaningful Content You Control.

Is a website important for you? A website works for you 24 hours a day and you determine 100% of the content.  Read more  

Does it make sense to list in an Expert Witness Directory? 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.  Read more  

Can attorneys find you online? Or in real life? 

Let’s develop your Digital Footprint” which is another form of content delivery. (Google selfie test: search yourself by expertise, name and location. What you find is what attorneys will.) 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.

I guide my clients to develop the content I know from experience attorneys are pleased to find. Often this leads to a call which leads to a case.

 

 

Social Media Help!

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.

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. Read more

See below for more about Budget. 

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

 

Is there really medical legal work for you?

Yes. Attorneys tell me there are more cases than qualified experts.

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, for 10 years I was mentored in Forensic Psychiatry by a highly regarded Forensic Psychiatrist and UCSF Clinical Professor of Psychiatry and Ethics. 

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.

How do attorneys think? I have worked with respected, high-profile attorneys in areas of law from probate and estate planning to 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.

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

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. 

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. 

 

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.

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