ForensicExpertPro Practice Development for Expert WitnessesBeryl Vaughan, Consultant | Nationwide

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YOUR GUIDE TO GET MORE FORENSIC CASES

The Author and Bona Fides Attorney whisperer Beryl Vaughan offers experience that is the perfect marriage of over a decade in practice development and management in forensic psychiatric practice and 20 years in legal case management.
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13 years

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

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20 years

Lawyer-wrangling, case-wrangling.

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

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

SERVICES AND CORE VALUES

Attorneys need expert witnesses who are knowledgeable and qualified and will withstand scrutiny on the stand. 

Core Value: 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.  This isn’t just about marketing or “advertising.” Your reputation is on the line and we understand that.

Every element of our recommendations must pass a litmus test for professional standards.

How will Attorneys Learn About You?

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

Fewer than 3% of all Board-Certified Psychiatrists are Board-Certified in Forensic Psychiatry (about 2000 doctors)  and there are fewer than 350 Board-Certified Forensic Psychologists. The majority have a forensic practice as an adjunct to clinical work.  Many more psychiatrists and psychologists testify and opine in a forensic setting but may not have forensic training.  Most do no marketing/practice development at all.

Attorneys are frustrated.  

The demand is great for an Expert Witness in a field like Forensic Psychiatry or Psychology–but the attorney’s search is burdensome. 

What works

1. Being findable. Attorneys can only call you if they find you. Otherwise you are invisible.

2. Explaining what you know in a manner accessible to an attorney, that you can “own” and defend on the stand. 

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

4. Setting clear goals for the cases and forensic work you want.

5. Identifying those who will retain you for the work you want.

Personal Injury attorneys, Public Defenders, Employers who need Fitness for Duty evaluations, mass tort litigators, Municipalities, DAs, Civil Litigators, Probate Attorneys. This is where our services become essential. You know the work you enjoy but we know who will have that work for you.  One recent client is an expert in competency to stand trial and testamentary capacity. As you can see, her knowledge is applicable in both cases. The attorneys who will retain her, however, are very different and we recommended two approaches to find these very different attorneys.

Do a Test. Run a Google search for someone with your expertise. If you cannot be found, then your approach isn’t working.  

This site is full of examples and ideas that work, and some that your colleagues use but don’t work–leaving plenty of room for you to shine.  

Education as a Marketing Tool. What you bring to the trier of fact is as strong as your skill, experience, credentials and unique areas of practice.  No lawsuit is absent a psychological factor.  Clinically significant psychiatric and psychological features may exist (or not).  Educate attorneys and they will come.  How “Content=Communication” is explained below.

Strategy and Services:

We start with an in-depth interview with you. It is the first step before we build a best plan of action to reach your special, unique goals.  

We design a specific strategy and plan of action with tasks, research and priorities, collaborating closely with you and explaining the reasoning of each recommendation so your decisions will be informed.  More below about concrete methods.

Spend Your Money Wisely

Attorneys use paid and free services and platforms, the internet, and a range of tools to find experts in your field. A lot of money can be spent leveraging these resources.

For example, many of your highly regarded colleagues advertise on Google. It can be pricey and is suitable for doctors who are not yet well-known or who are qualified in an unusual area of the profession. We don’t recommend Google very often but when we do, it’s because decades of experience tell us it is cost-effective. On the other hand, we won’t recommend it to you if it isn’t the right choice. 

A budget might include Expert Directories, which are popular with attorneys. Interestingly, the most productive are the last expensive and have the best track record with attorneys. A few specific referral databases are free and of the highest calibre.  We know a few directories that are 3 or 4 times the cost of others and promote themselves loudly and vigorously, and produce no work. 

Why spend money on our Practice Development Services? Simple: our time is less expensive than yours. 

You should be charging more than we charge you (if not, then we should talk about increasing your rates!).

If you are busy with paid work, then it makes more sense to let us do the heavy lifting. “Turnkey” sounds expensive but it’s just another way of saying “you do it, because it’s cheaper.” But if you’d rather handle the day-to-day yourself, we’ll train you so you can independently carry out the strategy. 

Marketing that Supports Your Professional Reputation.
Advertising with Integrity.

No, advertising or marketing your practice is not a sign of greed. 

The idea that you are “above” advertising, or that it diminishes you professionally, is an attitude that will cost you and it is not necessary. 

(a) Nothing you know can be intuited by esp. If a tree falls in a forest… whether it’s an article on your website, a post online, a webinar, it doesn’t matter unless we put it before those who would retain you. 

(b) Advertising is another way to say “getting the word out.”

What if marketing does come up in testimony? What if I look greedy?  There are answers to this question that can shut it down–a little coaching to ensure confidence, not defensiveness goes a long way (more about coaching below.)

Tools of the Trade.
More About Expert Directories and Referral Services 

Expert referral services or directories are widely used by attorneys because they can  search by specialty and spot-on expertise.  Not all are helpful for you. Some referral resources do produce cases for your colleagues and can do so for you.

Learn more…

Presentations and Multi-Media.  

Public speaking and multi-media presentations are powerful when topic and audience serve the marketing goal.  We will research venues and audiences interested in the information you have to share and identify topics that marry your experience with what your potential clients want to know. Of interest, JAAPL on “The Risks and Responsible Roles for Psychiatrists Who Interact with the Media.”[1]

We identify your target clients and pursue presentation opportunities to improve your visibility and communicate your expertise.  
Social Media, Used Judiciously. Social Media is not to be taken lightly, but it can be a case-producing resource.
Social media is a minefield. On the one hand, it enlarges your online footprint or visibility. On the other, the wrong choice of social media can backfire–especially when you’re on the stand.  We help you understand the options and navigate for best effect.
Content=Communication. The Heart and Soul of Practice Development: Explain what you know about what’s important to an attorney.

What is Content? Articles, case studies, social media posts (judiciously), video, interviews, audio, webinars– any and all of these has the power to make a 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–and especially what they need to know but can’t learn! This is our trademark “Cross-Over Analysis.”  Bearing your goals in mind, we define a focus for the impactful material you can produce.  We bring to the table expertise in copy-editing, journalism, and an annoying attitude about the use of apostrophes.

Online CV and an Attorney-Friendly Website

We work closely with a handful of web developers and draw on the responses of hundreds of attorneys, to create a website that is a powerful addition to a marketing plan. 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.

Most forensic psychiatrists and psychologists don’t have website at all. Even a search by their name produces little, if any, information.

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.

But it doesn’t stop there. Attorneys need to confirm bona fides and, most importantly, that the Expert is able to communicatean informed, relevant and unbiased opinion in a report or in testimony. Your website does this work for you.

  • If 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. Our greatest value lies in translation that is at the intersection of law and psychiatry or psychology.
  • 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
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. “Right” means ethical and effective to produce a healthy bottom line.  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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