Most of the time, attorneys or their staff are seeking someone like you online. If you don’t have an online footprint, you might as well be invisible.
Arenas and platforms that are powerful for forensic Experts to develop or expand their practice. This is true for all medical-legal specialties. In no particular priority:
- Presentations and networking with a local Bar Association and at Attorney Meetings;
- Website content – what you write about what you know;
- Dissemination and adaptation of that content for publication online;
- Expert Directories and Referral Services. (More detail: 2023 Guide to Expert Witness Directories and Referral Services.)
Quickie Explanation: Expert directories and referral services are used by attorneys with a search feature on the site. The sites either (1) charge experts to be listed, or (2) the attorney pays for access to the directory’s listings, OR (3) the referral service screens the attorney’s case then connects them with an expert who has listed with the service. Be wary of the IME Factory–it is a look-alike that contracts out medical-legal reports en masse at a discount.*
Reputable Directories and Referral Services should not be confused with IME Factories.
Websites are one tool. Websites aren’t a marketing plan.
But if you do nothing else, have a strong website.
I feel so strongly about this I’ve written a number of articles. This hits all the key points You need a website and here’s why. (Hint: …”a website is the most sophisticated business card in the world.”)
Wherever you post a website address, you’ve provided a destination to learn more about your practice. (Hint: Most online directories include a link to your website–but it only works if you have one.)
On a website you have 100% control over what is learned about you, and position that information for the work you seek.
Coming up first isn’t the point.
As a standalone matter of coming up early on Google searches (“SEO”), research shows most websites with a new domain name do not begin to pop up on Google in early pages for at least 2 years and only if content is relevant, concise, frequently updated and offers content that is on-topic and reliable. Google gives preference to “staying power” and established sites. For that reason, your first concern should not be traffic from the general searching public. The strength of the website is that you can link to it and that gives attorneys a risk-free chance find out about you before investing time in a phone call. Learn more: Is Google God?
Social media is a resource to make you more visible and it’s relatively free and easy. Tread thoughtfully!
Facebook isn’t generally a referral source. It has different benefits, like networking with colleagues who may refer you cases.
LinkedIn is the best choice because the focus is on business and professional topics, and allows you to post to a legal reader.
Ignore Twitter and Instagram; they are a waste of time–attorneys don’t look there for an Expert in their field (Ok, a post from Neil deGrasse Tyson might count, but he’s not in the budget for most lawsuits).
Real world visibility: the Bar Association. Did you know you can attend many Bar Association events even if you’re not an attorney? Video (COVID) or in-person (post-vaccine?), it will always be true that attorneys who meet you are more likely to call you with cases or refer you. Even if the call or case goes nowhere, you’re on that attorney’s radar.
Giving a presentation is even more effective.
- As a presenter, you own the primary real estate for the topic.
- As a local, assuming the Bar Association meeting is for local Bar members, you own the geographic real estate. This means that attorneys seeking an expert locally are more likely to remember your name, vs. those of your other local colleagues.
- You can show off your know-how, which is the whole point of being an Expert Witness.
- Attorneys get a sense of what you would be like on the stand–your demeanor.
A common problem for clinicians is marketing that includes both patient care and forensic work.
If you are seeing patients for routine therapy before, during or after your forensic training, you might want to tweak bios and CV so they serve all your areas of expertise.
This includes an About page on a website or a Psychology Today listing.
Frankly, attorneys don’t care if you have a holistic approach to treatment, adhere to traditional psychoanalytic methods, or prefer vanilla CBT. Patients might.
“Find a Doctor” online vs. finding a medical-legal specialist. WebMD, Vitals, and Doximity list doctors in clinical practice. It is possible to include your forensic specialty in your listing; consider doing so.
Bear in mind such sites often use bots to “data mine” the NPI database and other websites. Wrong information in one spot can become widely perpetuated as each site latches on to another site’s data.
Look yourself up on the web. Be sure listings are accurate (old addresses are notorious problems) and add forensic expertise to your job description wherever it appears.
Unmuddy the waters between your various types of work.
Is a day job what pops on the radar first? One of my clients’ hospital listing comes up first on a Google search. Another is their group clinical practice. A third is a private Forensic practice.
One doctor might do all of these things and it is just fine that they all come up. Another doctor with another goal should get the results best suited to that goal.
A medical-legal practice will need to be at least one of the things an attorney finds.
“Being Findable” is a big topic. It is at the heart of marketing / practice-development. My mastery is the result of decades of trial, error and hard research. And that doesn’t make me a master!
Almost every platform and tool described above is limited if taken alone, but enormously powerful when used together.