Practice Development for Expert Witnesses
Beryl Vaughan, Consultant

Email or Call (415) 302-9589

How much do Forensic Psychiatrists and Psychologists earn?

This is the question I hear the most often and unfortunately, no sound data exists for many fields but I’ll share what I know.

My experience is $250/hour to $1200/hour, the bottom being someone fresh out of school and without testimony experience.  Forensic Psychologists earn less than Forensic Psychiatrists.  $1200/hour is limited to psychiatrists at the top of their field who have testified hundreds of time with great effect.  Sometimes the hourly rate reflects only testimony, which tends to be  higher than the “regular” rate. For those experts with 1-3 years of experience and having testified 5-15 times, the mean is nearer $350-400/hour for psychologists and $500/hour for psychiatrists. Again, this is from my own personal experience.

Two questions impact income: what is your billable rate? How many hours do you want to work in forensic practice?

I recommend reading “Your Hourly Rate” for a more in-depth discussion.  To summarize my research:

There exist 3 private surveys conducted by expert witness directories. The samples are small, the statistics misleading and application to your field is next to null. Most importantly, annual income reported is not usually identified as being full time or part-time. Not helpful.

Bureau of Labor Statistics is often cited but actually is not helpful because forensic work isn’t a separate category of study.

I believe forensic psychiatrists do not make as much income as they could, by which I mean more billable hours morethan rate. That is the point of my services–to get more billable hours.

Limitations on income include geography, competition, and an area of expertise which is in high demand vs. low demand. Testimony experience is a pivotal factor.

Whatever you decide to charge, don’t intentionally try to undersell your competition. Your services are not available on Groupon. Further, your rate reflects your experience. If you cut your rate because you want more work, it will be easier for attorneys to assume the rate is an accurate reflection of your experience even if it is not.

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