CV: Adapt What You Have
Cannibalize an Academic or Job-Seeking CV
A CV for medical-legal work is quite different from a CV in an academic or clinical setting.
It’s common for doctors to tell me they have an old CV but nothing they’d send an attorney.
While you need a CV for forensic work, you don’t have to reinvent the wheel. Here’s how to rejig your academic or job-seeking CV.
Start with licensing, Board-Certifications, special Certifications, and Training.
Include your License # and State.
The attorney owes a duty of due diligence to their client, including verifying you are a licensed physician. Make it easy for them to do so.
There are legal and psychological benefits to reminding attorneys you are a doctor and you know your field.
Re-sort the CV Chronology: Most Recent and work backwards.
Tip for Newbies
- Hung up your shingle yesterday? Start with your highest and best credentials. You’re a doctor, you’re Board-Certified.
Tip for Not Newbies
- Graduated more than 3 decades ago? Start with the highest and most important credentials, faculty appointments and presentations. Demonstrate the depth of your experience.
- Move education further down unless the school is wildly prestigious. Frankly, school was a long time ago and not as important as the experience you’ve acquired.
If you’ve published widely, the academic CV may well list every publication. I recently saw a 20 page CV of which 8 pages were publications. I argue it is adequate to highlight publications of relevance to attorneys and only those in recent decades. Exception: Federal Rules of Civil Procedure Rule 26(a)(2)(B)(iv) Disclosure.
Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, Rule 26, requires that an Expert Witness submit a list of all of their publications in the last 10 years. This only applies to Federal cases. However, definitely have, and keep, that list.
It just doesn’t have to be in your CV. Report the publications most relevant to medicolegal and subject matter expertise. DON’T FORGET A DISCLAIMER: “This is not a complete list of publications, though one is available at your request.”
Always use professional letterhead for your Forensic CV.
Professional letterhead includes all of your contact information and a footer with the same information. The footer is so the contact information can be tapped even if a page slipped out on its own.
FYI, when you are Disclosed, your CV is sent to opposing counsel.
That’s Networking! A lawyer who appreciates the quality of your work might want to retain you in the future. Make it easy for them to reach you too.
Watermark your CV “Unretained Expert.”
This prevents attorneys from disclosing you as an expert witness without retaining you. Once they’ve signed you retention contract and sent you the retainer, they get a copy without the watermark.
The “About” page on your website must be consistent with information reported on your CV. Check it often and compare it to any updated CV you are using. What’s online can be brought up in Court.
Your credentials can be found all over the place.
Facts should always be consistent, though the layout or order of information will change depending on the purpose and platform.
CV Cheat Sheet
Adapting your Academic CV
- Use business letterhead
- Start with Licensure and Board-Certification
- Medicolegal experience
Continue with your Academic CV:
- Academic experience including presentations to other students or residents
- Education (for newbies)
- Honors, Awards, Professional Societies
Email Signature Supercharged
Email: one and done
Most email services allow you to create a signature block.
It can serve as a calling card, contact card, even mini-CV.
The attorney needs only one email from you to have all this at their fingertips.
- Make it easy to recognize you by name and credentials
- Acknowledge your med-legal know-how with a legal confidentiality notice.
GMAIL TIP: Use Shift-Enter to create a hard break between lines. Just “enter” can convert your signature to double-spaced.
- Sample Confidentiality Notice
Attorneys routinely use a confidentiality disclaimer at the bottom of their emails. In fact, so do Clinicians focused on HIPAA.
It usually starts something like this:
The information transmitted by this email is intended only for the person or entity to which it is addressed…
Beryl’s Disclaimer: I am not an attorney and a confidentiality notice on an email has direct and implied legal impact. Ask an attorney (and read their email notice) to get ideas.
Include your most direct dial phone number:
- When an attorney reads your email, make it easy to pick up the phone.
- On a mobile device, they will expect to find a phone number they can click and dial.
Logo or No Logo?
Where will you use a logo? Website? Business Cards? Online platforms?
1. A logo is a graphic that serves to identify your practice. Assuming we are discussing a logo for a forensic practice:
If you are solo, your practice= you. Skip a logo. Be sure to have a photo on your site, however. It serves a similar purpose: to associate your practice with a person.
If you are a group practice, a logo makes more sense than photos alone. You can’t have a business card with 10 faces on it. A logo, therefore, is a substitute for many services and many people.
Functionally, What is a logo?
1. Logos are used for “branding”–to build a visual bridge between your client and your practice. We know a logo is a graphic. But its function is to create an identity that is visual and immediate. NOTE: Healthcare logos for a forensic practice create confusion.
Logos do become dated. Every 5-10 years, consider an adaptation of your logo–but keep thematic cues: colors, shapes.
In recent years, Instagram, Slack, YouTube and Starbucks all updated their logos. The images were referential to earlier logos but designers changed the style and in some cases colors.
If you have a logo for your clinical practice
One simple line image can rarely address a nuanced multi-service practice. Keep a boundary, e.g., telemedicine treatment vs. uniquely forensic testimony. Again, it’s good to have thematic consistencies for both your practices.
A healthcare logo is confusing if your practice is more than treatment.
This logo immediately communicates medical-legal work.
It does not serve healthcare.
If you used it for a clinical practice, the gavel would confuse patients.
A logo is a statement about the practice AT A GLANCE.
This logo does not communicate medical-legal work or healthcare.
I find it dated. Do you?
What does this mean?
It is offered by one graphic service as a “healthcare logo.” I guess if we eat more green leafy veggies?
Here’s a twist that makes more sense:
A few changes give a different message.
The boxes suggest a group practice.
The magnifying glass is self-explanatory.
Why 3 “people?” What are they doing?
I do not understand.
Is it better to have a logo graphic, or a photo of myself?
Attorneys want to know what you look like. For that reason, a photo is always necessary in marketing. A graphic is not a substitute for a portrait.
You don’t have to be gorgeous, but it is human to want to connect with a face- visually.
A logo can be distracting and frustrating if the attorney seeks a face and finds a graphic that makes no sense.
Logos for group practices run this risk as well.
A frustration-response is the opposite of positive communication.
- Google MyBusiness is the digital the secret behind that search result when you’ve typed in someone’s (precise) name. Look to the right of the search results page. There is a massive box with photo, location, contact info and, most valuable of all, a place to post from time to time. Type into Google “forensicexpertpro” and you’ll see what I mean.
- Social Media. Per the brief Social Media paragraph below, join free LinkedIn and start building “connections.” Join Groups–especially those for attorneys. Post at least once a week and stay conservative. Learn about posting online. Consider linking articles from your website.
- With the power of free data, you can improve your client’s experience in finding you.
- Google Analytics is a free account that tells you how users are finding your site and what pages interest them. The data is external: the journey to your site, not the behavior once there. Is your directory listing helping your website? What terms were used to find you? Did they use a desktop or phone to do so? User info is anonymous–no personal information is acquired. This isn’t Cambridge Analytica. To start, open a Google Analytics account (click above), add the indicated code to your site, verify it and you can now learn where users started before they came to your site and what led them there. Now we need to know the user’s behavior once they landed.
- Web-Stat Premium is $9.50/month. Not free, but inexpensive. Web-Stat picks up where Google Analytics stops. Web-Stat follows the user’s journey inside your site. How long did they spend on which page? Did they really read your About page? When did they go to the site? I love it because I can ask a client “did you get a call yesterday from North Carolina?” If the answer is yes, then I know it was the North Carolina visitor that spent 7 minutes reading Article X (but not Article Y). Article X is now on my “effective” list.
Pick up the phone to call, or email, prior clients.
A call or email to an existing client reestablishes your relationship and puts you back on your client’s radar. It’s free and smart.
- Be brief.
- Be friendly. Use a first name if you’re on a first name basis.
- Reference the case. You might even reminisce a tiny bit.
- (Be sure your email signature block hit all the marks in your Supercharged E-Mail Signature.)
It’s definitely horse-and-buggy stuff and it works. Personal contact is always better than impersonal contact.
That’s marketing gold.
Posting, Reposting, Reacting
Post, Repost, Respond, React
Every time you post on LinkedIn, one of your potential attorney-clients might read it and cause them to take a second look at your profile and, by extension, website and email.
Post regularly for maximum effect.
If you have business social media accounts, posting on a regular basis once or twice a week is a great way to get the attention of your attorney contacts. LinkedIn’s algorithm favors those who post regularly. They “reward” people who use and engage with connections on LinkedIn.
What time of day is best to post?
Best times to post on LinkedIn:
10;15 or 10:45 am
12:15 or 12:45 pm
Why? Because these are times of day when people are bored or need a break to distract them from the daily grind.
Timesaver: Copy and paste the post on more than one platform:
- Take your LinkedIn post and repost on Facebook legal groups (if you use FB)
- Repost on Google MyBusiness
- Your website if you have an “in the news” style section. Only use on your website if the source is a legitimate news or research link. Always state you aren’t endorsing it.
Make the posts once, then schedule them to be released later via autopilot.
The secret is Hootsuite, a free service that allows you to prepare your posts ahead of time, to be released on the schedule you set.
This means on Sunday you can develop 2 posts, schedule them for later in the week and be done.
How should I “react” to a post? Thumbs up? Clapping? Curious?
A reaction icon triggers an alert on the notification tab of the attorney who posted. This may lead to a person’s clicking on your profile and information it provides. Ditto your contact info.
What if a reaction looks like an endorsement? Can it come back to haunt me?
Yes it can. The solution: don’t endorse, just react. E.g., Respond to posts like this:
CURIOUS FACE: Discussion or news article post. USE THIS THE MOST. You will pop up on the Notification for the person posting without endorsing or suggesting bias related to the post.
LIGHTBULB, INSIGHTFUL, OR CLAPPING: Benign post with a universal statement like “Maintain a work-life balance” or “Kindness is a business virtue.”
THUMBS UP. Announcement of an addition of a new lawyer or award for a law firm you know. Curious face for a law firm you don’t know.
HEART IN HAND OR LAUGHING FACE: NEVER.
To Logo or Not to Logo
Do you need a logo?
Solo Medicolegal Specialists
If you’re solo, my recommendation is no. Forget the logo.
Your photo is a better alternative on your website, LinkedIn, directory listings, etc. A photo establishes the kind of practice recognition that is usually associated with a logo. (Caveat: never use a photo on a business card or letterhead.)
If you have a clinical practice logo, consider a logo that is referential but distinct. Using my examples of the grid and leaf, they might be effective for a clinical practice (assuming you replace the leaf with something healthcare related) while the dark green and magnifying glass image speak to the medicolegal practice.
If you’re a group practice, photos are important on your website but you can have a bunch of faces serve as a logo.
In a group practice, your logo might get confused with the big medicolegal placement firms–which is not the service you provide.
Logo company offered this one. Why 3? What does it Mean? Are we Dancing? I'm so confused.
Touted as a "healthcare logo" by large logo company, I have to wonder if I need a greenhouse to be health.
I popped that logo into graphics software for a better medicolegal application.
Catchy and Memorable Domains
We all want a domain name that’s easy to remember, on point and easy to type. Sadly that is no longer available or wise.
The cost of a domain name.
Respected domain registrars charge $15.99-19.99 to register a domain name, plus about $29 for Domain Ownership Privacy. Without the privacy coverage, your name, address and email can be public. Why? Whois.com promotes internet transparency. A domain privacy service uses their own generic information in lieu of your personal information.
By contrast, professional domain-name resellers don’t want privacy. They want domain-seekers to find them and make them an offer. That is not you!
Should you buy from a domain name reseller?
The value of a good url was established in the early 1990s. Since then, Domain-Name Bulk Buyers / Resellers have been busy snatching up anything with a common proper noun.
Great 4-letter noun domain names go for hundreds of thousands of dollars. Md.com is gone. blackdogexpertwitness.com is available. You need something in between.
Medicolegal.com appears to be for sale but to find out, you have to traverse a series of dangerous website links, so don’t go that path. I have no experience with the domain name broker/reseller industry. The largest is Uniregistry.
Forensic medical -centric names were evaporating before my eyes, so I began registering names whenever I found one-because I knew my clients would eventually be out of good options. Occasionally, I will sell a domain name I registered, but only to current clients and only if it is practice-relevant.
You don’t have a website, why buy a domain name?
You must have a domain name to have an email address @ a professional name. @gmail.com or @yahoo.com are hallmarks of the amateur.
Your domain name search should filter by the extension .com. It is the business standard and gets the best SEO for a business. Unlike a .org, you are not a non-profit.
Matching extensions (what follows .___) to website content is a feature of the Google algorithm.
Note .net and .info always fall behind .com in Google results.
Don’t use your name as your url.
Some forensic professionals use their own name like Drjoesjameschmoemd.com.
I don’t recommend this. Attorneys looking for someone like you doesn’t yet know your name.
That won’t always be true. But our focus is providing new clients an open door.
Purchase a second domain name that points to your primary website.
Sometimes called a subdomain or addon domain, this registered domain name operates like an alias. Your short(er) url goes to the longer domain name.
Case in Point. My client, Dr. Adhia, has the domain www.forensicpsychiatrynow.com. To make it easier for his attorney clients, he registered his initials www.sgamd.com. When Dr. Adhia added another doctor to his practice, he decided to use his other business name, Adhia & Associates, and registered www.aamedlegal.com. All take you to the same destination site but some are easier than others to remember, once the attorney already knows his practice.
Benefits of a Long Url:
- A long domain name that is relevant, conveys the site will be …relevant.
- There may be SEO positives to a domain name that includes relevant language. Full Disclosure: This is a controversial subject without a definitive answer.
- You don’t lose benefits from a long domain name by using a shorter addon domain.
Common SEO opinions shift almost daily and rely heavily on Google’s algorithm for placement of a site. Google’s algorithm is possibly the most closely held secret in the business world. In fact, it may be entirely AI driven, and humans might come to different conclusions.
You will find conflicting opinions about the “relevant long domain name” vs. the “not so relevant short domain name.”
This article reflects my experience but I am not deaf to the shifting tides.
It takes 1-2 years to get traction for a page 2 or even 3 appearance once you start being indexed by Google.
The sooner you commit to the url and begin this process, the sooner you will reap the benefits.
Changing mid-stream resets the clock. Committing to a long domain name and a shorter addon domain is one imperfect option.
Not endorsed by me, but still interesting:
What does this logo mean? Why 3? Are we dancing? Huh?
You probably don’t need a logo if you’re solo.
Logos are common in clinical practice, because that’s not a person, per se, it’s a business. Doctors, NPs, different specialists might all be under one roof.
In medicolegal work, however, your practice is a person–you.
Solo? No Logo. For a solo practice, a logo could suggest you are not a single authoritative person. In fact, you are just that.
Skip the logo, spend your time and money on a good photo.
The photo is your name-recognition-token. (FYI, never use a photo on letterhead or a business card).
Group Practice. You might need a logo if your medical-legal practice reflects multiple people.
This is when you should consider minimalistic images and/or unexpected images.
There are big companies in the medicolegal space that are not specific medicolegal experts. They may be gateways to a database of people, or internet dumping grounds like HealthGrades. Logos are their “brand,” which is not the model for your practice.
If you’re running a group practice, give a lot of thought to your logo so you don’t confuse lawyers about who they are calling.
Conceptually and visually, Law and Medicine intersect nicely in this logo
I would make aesthetic changes but that’s must me. I do have a personal dislike for the overuse of a gavel as a default for “law” or a cross as a default for “medicine.” Still, it does the trick.
If you have a logo for your clinical practice, and want one for your forensic practice, then consider making them referential. There are similarities but they aren’t identical.
A logomaker service advises this is a "healthcare logo." That's why logomaker sites are dangerous. They think you are a plant.
This logo makes more sense for a medicolegal practice.
It also demonstrates how a logo for one business might be referential but not identical to the logo for another business.
To create the second logo, I used Adobe Photoshop to change the original logo: new more conservative colors and adding the magnifying glass and person. It took about an hour.
There are now 2 logos, one for the forensic practice and one for the landscaping business errr umm I mean healthcare.
Case Management Shortcuts
Finding Case References in One Place: Low Tech
On the inside of your new case file, keep a checklist, important phone numbers and dates. I prefer making a label using a template; I can easily stick it on the folder. Include whatever is important to you. My recommendations:
- Client name and address
- Client phone
- Contact people at the firm including paralegals and legal secretaries
- Case citation
- Source of referral to you (invaluable)
- What you are charging
- Computer filepath for client and for documents.
- A filepath for the Index of John Doe’s St. Francis Hospital Records 2010 looks like this: D:\OneDrive\Forensic Consultancy Business\Test Location of John Doe’s Medical Records\Index of St. Francis Memorial Records
- In the example I show what is on my file folder for med-legal clients. Adapt it for your med-legal cases.
SOFTWARE AND E-TOOLS
Software to Manage Records
You probably receive records electronically. It makes it hard to know how many records there are for you to review, estimate how long it will take you, and manage the documents and your notes. The “estimate” piece has downstream issues if the attorney underreported the quantity of records , and now that you’ve waded through them, your invoice is out of line with the attorney’s expectation.
In the olden days, a doctor would receive hard copies, flag them, annotate them in the margins and other techniques to quickly get to what is important.
This is essential when you write a report or prep for testimony.
With electronic records, it’s trickier to make and track your notes, and organize documents.
Software equal to the task
I use Adobe Acrobat Pro; it is my go-to and has many valuable features. I’m sure there is other similar software. Let me know what you use*
Managing records with Acrobat Pro
Adobe’s subscription plan for Acrobat Pro is $19.99/month.** I am not an Adobe salesperson and have zero investment in my recommendation. I have been using Adobe software for more than 20 years, however, and they are the gold standard for certain types of software. (Note: Adobe Reader is a different animal.)
6 favorite features
- Password-protect your report, so it cannot be altered by anyone.
- “Optimization” which includes OCR on standard .pdf records, and deskew (straightens those cattywampus scans)
- Annotate records
- highlight content electronically. No paper or highlighter required. Yellow and green are available.
- Bates Stamping***
- Watermarking (see Unretained Expert watermark in the CV section of this page)
** Adobe’s Creative Cloud Suite consists of 20+ programs for $54.99/month. Yesterday I asked them for a discount and they offered $24.99 without a beat. If you can get the lower price, $24.99 beats $19.99 for 20x the value. I’m happy to tell you more about the CC Software’s value for a med-legal Expert Witness. Drop me a line.
***Bates-stamping is a tool attorneys use to apply sequential numbers to each page in a given file, starting with the first page. Attorneys apply this to documentary evidence and for internal document tracking. It does not organize documents, but does provide a reference point.
Online calendar for deadlines and time management
Rushing at the last minute is standard operating procedure for many attorneys, sadly for you. Keep your own calendar. It’s practical and allows you to better manage your charges, and reduce sticker shock when you are on top of your own work.
The benefit of an online calendar is you can access it from anywhere, not just the office. If you use Chrome and Google Calendars, be sure your cellular devices are synced.
Dates of interest:
- Attorney deadline for report
- Expert Disclosure
- Discovery (depositions, document production)
- Settlement conference
Checking in with an attorney about an upcoming deadline opens the door to a substantive conversation and might even remind the attorney of something important.