Practice Development for Medical Expert Witnesses
Beryl Vaughan, Consultant
Nationwide

Email go@forensicexpertpro.com or Call (415) 302-9589

Great Ideas, Ready to Go!

Free and easy tools you can use right now to add punch to your practice development plan

and lighten day to day stress.

Retool Your Academic or Job CV

Tips to adapt your CV for attorney readers.

Email Signature Block

Your email signature block is easy to change.

Use these elements to maximize how attorneys view you, interact with you and call you.

Freebies

Free marketing tools with a big punch and minimal time investment.

Social Media: a Narrow and Powerful Path

Navigating Social Media is easy for the Forensic Expert because there’s only one option. Luckily, it’s easy peasy.

User's Guide to Posting Online

Forensic Experts can-and do-get work from posting online. That includes responding to the posts of others.

Learn how to do it right for exposure (to attorneys) while building your reputation.

Domain Names that Stick

A domain name may be your business email address, even if you don’t have a website.

It’s cheap to register and hard to pin down.

What you need to know and how to dodge the tricky bits.

Stressless Records and Case Management Hacks

Here are a few hacks to manage those thousands of pages of records, deadlines, depos and documents.  

Software and E-Tools

Technology takes the heavy lifting off your brain. Here are tools that do the boring part of your job for you with some marketing side-benefits.

CV:  Adapt What You Have

CV outdated

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.

Pro Tip

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.

Published widely?

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.”

 

CV outdated

    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.

     

    Be Consistent

    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)
    • Research
    • Publications
    • Presentations
    • 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.

    Freebies!

    • 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.

    It’s definitely horse-and-buggy stuff and it works. Personal contact is always better than impersonal contact.

    That’s marketing gold.

    Social Media is Easy. There’s Only One.

    LinkedIn is Social Media for Professionals

    LinkedIn is the only Social Media Platform Suitable to a Conservative and Professional Practice.

    Skip Facebook (unless you already belong to business groups)

    Medicolegal work is not acquired through Instagram, Twitter or TikTok. 

    Create or update your LinkedIn Profile, post a professional photo and a suitable descriptive profile.  Use the search bar to find attorneys in your area and send them a connection request. Done. Free. Easy.

    Posting, Reposting, Reacting

    Post, Repost, Respond

    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 practice.

    Every time you respond to a post–thumbs up or curious face, the attorney who posted will get a notification – a red flag when they log in, causing them to take a second look at your profile.

    If you have business social media accounts, posting on a regular basis is a great way to get the attention of your attorney contacts.


    Best times to post on LinkedIn per Social Media gurus:

    Wednesday and Tuesday, 10:45 am and  12:45 pm.

    Timesaver: Copy and paste the post on more than one platform:

    • Facebook legal groups (if you use FB)
    • Google MyBusiness

    Some doctors have an “in the news” style section of their website where interesting news stories are posted–via a link to a legitimate news source. Just be sure you state you aren’t endorsing it.


    Make the posts once, then schedule them to be released later via autopilot.

    The secret is Hootsuite, a 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.

    The_Workaround_to_a_Long_Domain_Name.com

    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 $12.99-17.99 to register a domain plus about $29 for Domain ownership privacy that creates a PO-Box like cover.  Whois.com promotes internet transparency and absent the security service, anyone can learn the domain owner’s name, address and email. 

    Domain resellers love it: they want domain-seekers to make them an offer.

    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 but you may want paindoctor.com or medicolegal.com. Sadly, the paindoctor has a business identity and will not want to sell.

    On the other hand medicolegal.com is for sale per the notice at the top of that site. It takes you to reseller Uniregistry. To get a quote, you have to hand over your phone number. I’m not sure who will buy that phone number or if you will get a legit quote.

    You can take a chance, but buy a burner phone and back up your computer first

    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.

    .com

    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.
    Try it:

    Primary url: www.forensicpsychiatrynow.com

    www.aamedlegal.com > www.forensicpsychiatrynow.com

    www.sgamd.com > www.forensicpsychiatrynow.com

    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.

    Act Quickly

    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:

    URL Domain Name Length: Data-Based Pros and Cons From Digital Marketing Guru Neil Patel

    Long Domains vs. Short Domains Analysis from Safari Digital

    Logos

    Healthcare logo dated and confusing

    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.

     

    Medical legal logo gavel and healthcare cross

    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.
    healthcare logo

    A logomaker service advises this is a "healthcare logo." That's why logomaker sites are dangerous. They think you are a plant.

    )
    logo for a medical legal group practice many forensic services

    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

    Records management in forensic psychiatry or psychology

    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.

    Annotating e-documents

    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

    1. Password-protect your report, so it cannot be altered by anyone.
    2. “Optimization” which includes OCR on standard .pdf records, and deskew (straightens those cattywampus scans)
    3. Annotate records
    4. highlight content electronically. No paper or highlighter required. Yellow and green are available.
    5. Bates Stamping***
    6. Watermarking (see Unretained Expert watermark in the CV section of this page)

    *Let me know about other software and why you like it. I’ll share it here.

    ** 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
    • Trial

    Side-benefit for practice development

    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.

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