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Insider Advice to be an Amazing Medical Expert

Amy Fogelman, MD, answers physician FAQ's on how to get started in medical expert witness work.

August 7, 2021

Every day my inbox is filled with questions about Medical Expert Witnesses from physicians, so this article is dedicated to doctors’ FAQs.

Physicians want to know how to get started in this arena. We want to become known experts in our respective fields. And since physicians are notoriously Type-A personalities, we want to know the best way to learn everything we can to become adept authorities without wasting our time learning from the wrong sources.

Chances are, you probably have these same types of questions. And you’ve probably even spent some time on blogs, forums and around the web, trying to get answers. Problem is, you keep getting conflicting answers.

For example, just pop onto any Physician Facebook Group and ask this question: How much should I charge for work as an expert witness?

I am sure that you’ll get conflicting advice. Some people will tell you to keep your rates low so that you don’t scare off potential attorney clients. Others will recommend that you collect a retainer and charge higher rates than you ever imagined. And just to make it extra confusing, you might even get a few people telling you to not bother with any of it because it’s impossible to find good work as a medical expert.

If you’re just trying to break into Medical Expert work, it’s even harder because you don’t where to begin. But the truth is, there are several excellent online resources/websites–it’s just important to know which ones are credible.

That’s why I compiled this list of frequently asked questions.

I wanted to make sure you receive the right advice from someone who’s successfully navigated the world of medical legal consulting.

To learn about how to break into the field, read my article “5 Easy Ways to Become a Medical Expert.”

Read on…

Q. Are there courses that I must take before I become a Medical Expert?

A. No, but they can be helpful.

Many times, you need no formal training in order to become a Medical Expert (see the question on guidelines above.) However, a course can certainly be helpful. I attended SEAK’s conference “How to Start, Build and Run a Successful Medical Expert Witness Practice” in Cape Cod this year and found it very worthwhile. To be clear, I have no affiliation with SEAK– I registered and paid just like everyone else. It was a great overview of best-practices and was useful for everyone from the novice to quite established expert.

Here some free resources for Medical Expert Witnesses that I recommend:

  • John Jurica, MD’s recent podcast featuring Dr. Peter Steinberg’s Medical Expert work was excellent. Read about it: here.
  • SEAK has free Expert Witness resources. Read them: here.
  • The Expert Institute has a comprehensive Blog. Read it: here.
  • Physician’s Side Gigs wrote a blog post. Read it: here.

Q. Are there guidelines to follow when performing Medical Expert work?

A. Yes.

You need to adhere to appropriate ethics. You need to be truthful. You should not opine on a field of which you are not an expert. Some specialties require that you pass certain requirements in order to become registered as an expert, such as the American Urological Association. Make sure that you check out the guidelines in your particular specialty and state.

Q. Can I learn the qualities an attorney wants in a Medical Expert?

A. With practice, most of the qualities can be taught.

Attorneys tell me that they want a Medical Expert who is highly clinically qualified, a good communicator, honest, calm under pressure, easy to deal with and reliable. While most of these qualities are teachable, if you don’t have a thick skin or would lose your cool under cross-examination by opposing counsel, this is not the right field for you.

Q. Do I need to be practicing clinical medicine in order to be a Medical Expert?

A. Yes, in most cases.

In most cases, except for certain particular niches, Medical Experts still need to be seeing patients, at least part-time, in order to qualify as a Testifying Expert Witness.

Q. How much should I charge for my services as a Medical Expert?

A. It depends.

The market can vary based on your location and particular expertise/niche. Some physicians charge a flat hourly rate that does not change. Others charge a split fee: lower hourly rate for document review/report writing and a higher rate for deposition and trial testimony.

Check the following sources when determining what fees to charge as an Expert Witness:

  • Contact colleagues who do expert work for their fees.
  • The Expert Institute’s Fee calculator can be found: here.
  • SEAK publishes a free whitepaper “Expert Witness Fee Data” that you can download:  here.

TIP: Do your research and don’t sell yourself short.

Q. Why are no attorneys contacting me for Medical Expert work? What am I doing wrong?

A. There are several possible explanations.

 

TIP: Do your research and don’t sell yourself short.

 

Potential reasons that attorneys are not contacting you:

Your Online Presence is questionable.

Google yourself to identify what attorneys are seeing when they search for you. Clean up your online activity, including Social Media.

Google yourself to identify what attorneys are seeing when they search for you. Clean up your online activity, including Social Media. Share on X

 

You’re difficult to reach.

Is it easy for the attorney to contact you or does s/he have to call your office and wait on hold, only to have his/her call returned days later? If you are hard to get in touch with, the attorney will move on to the next expert on their list.

Is it easy for the attorney to contact u or does s/he have to call ur office/wait on hold, only to have the call returned days later? If ur hard to get in touch with, the attorney will move on. Share on X

 

Attorneys can’t find you.

Check out my Blog “5 ways to Break into the Expert Witness Field.” Consider listing with a Concierge Medical Expert matching service like my company, MED LAW Consulting, LLC: here.

Your area of expertise is not clear.

Experts with clearly defined niches fair better than experts who claim to know everything about everything.

TIP: List your cell phone number to make it easy for attorneys to contact you.

Q: If you went back in time and took a Medical Expert case for the first time ever, what would you do differently this time?

A. If I could do my first case over again, I would have had more confidence. I now know that with a little know-how and practice, almost anyone can become a successful Medical Expert.

In conclusion…

At last, you finally know the INSIDE TIPS about Medical Expert Witness work. And that means that you can now list your services more confidently because you’re armed with the knowledge you need to succeed.

 

(Adapted from Blog post originally on My Company’s website)

Disclaimer: Content is for educational and informational purposes only.

All opinions published on SomeDocs-Mag are the author’s and do not reflect the official position of SoMeDocs, its staff, editors. SoMeDocs is a magazine built with the safety of free expression and diverse perspectives in mind. For more information, or to submit your own opinion, please see our submission guidelines or email opmed@doximity.com. Do you have a compelling personal story you’d like to see published on SoMeDocs? Find out what we’re looking for here and submit your writing, or send us a pitch.

All opinions published on SomeDocs-Mag are the author’s and do not reflect the official position of SoMeDocs, its staff, editors. SoMeDocs is a magazine built with the safety of free expression and diverse perspectives in mind. Do you have a compelling personal story you’d like to see published on SoMeDocs? Submit your own article now here.

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