Lawyers PI Program
From the Desk of:
Mark Studin DC, FASBE (C), DAAPM, DAAMLP
Become an Insider with the Lawyer
You are either on the outside of the medical-legal community looking in, with your face pressed against the window, or you are in the inside looking out at everyone else attempting to get in. If you are on the outside looking in, you are taking lawyers to breakfast, lunch and dinner, wining and dining, or buying theater and ballgame tickets, and always asking for the referral. The whole process is tantamount to begging and pleading and we know it doesn’t work, past the first referral, as a rule. If you are on the inside, you are a respected member of the medical-legal community and a resource for lawyers to constantly communicate with you regarding cases and personal issues, and are hearing their pleas for your support on a myriad of issues. That is how you create that paradigm shift.
Getting in has always been a challenge for chiropractors nationwide. I know, because I spent 20 years with my face pressed firmly against that window trying to figure out whose ass I had to kiss to get in that door. In fact, one of my colleagues had a great saying, “I will contour the shape of my lips to the referrer’s ass in order to gain the referral.” He said that many, many times to me.
On a historical note, that same chiropractor, after 20 years in practice, had to sell his office for financial reasons, and now works as an associate for another DC for very little money and no respect. His method of ass-kissing proved to be an abject lesson in failure philosophy of personal injury practice building. Actually, I just hung up with his employer no more than 5 minutes ago, and he is being fired the week after Thanksgiving (in 3 weeks). The reason, he still doesn’t get that what caused him to fail in his personal practice is the same philosophy he is using in his current employment and failure philosophy has the same results, no matter whose roof you reside under.
Getting into the “club” of personal injury lawyers requires that you become a fixture in their face and they see you as an expert and accessible. There are many methods of accomplishing this goal and the easiest, quickest method is to use your local county’s bar association. The main reason is that is the common denominator for where lawyers converge on a regular basis and you can target any type of specialty you want. In our case, we are focused on the plaintiff’s lawyer and each bar association has a plaintiff’s bar that has meetings on a regular basis.
Unlike medicine, law literally changes daily. There are rules of law in the constitution of the United States and in each state, as well. Each of these rules is subject to interpretation and that is done through the courts, with rulings on every case that comes before them. Those rules get further defined daily, and lawyers arguing a case today with one set of rules might not be able to argue the same set of facts they did on a previous week because of the more recent precedents set in the courts. As a result, lawyers constantly attend continuing legal education courses at the bar association to stay current on rulings and interpretations.
Through the years, I have been a regular fixture at my county’s bar association, first in the form of a sponsor and then as I became expert in spine, a lecturer. Getting in is easy. The only credential you need a checkbook, and we all qualify. As I have told you for quite some time now, it’s always about the money…cynical, but true. Call the executive director of the local bar association and offer to sponsor a meeting at the plaintiff’s bar. They usually meet monthly or quarterly. Most meetings serve food and the cost should be nominal. I usually paid $200 per meeting and a doctor in Florida, who sponsored meetings recently, was asked to pay the same $200. The fee will gain you entry into the “club.”
Your participation will be limited to handing out information about your practice, and that is an acceptable trade off for sponsorship. The bar associations all allow that. At the meeting you need to have educational binders with your curriculum vitae in the front. Understand that the most looked at document in the binder will be your curriculum vitae. Your goal at the meeting is to explain to every lawyer present that there are 2 new educational fliers produced monthly, and if they would like, you will arrange to meet with them briefly each month to give them the 2 new ones to place in their binders.
You will have a short amount of time before the meeting commences, to chat with the lawyers, as your time will be limited to their eating a quick dinner or lunch prior to the speaker. After the meeting, 90% want to go home immediately, but a few will linger for a few minutes, so your time has to be spent judiciously, not staying with 1 person too long.
You should request a copy of the attendance from the bar association, and they will accommodate your request. In addition, pay attention at the meeting, as what is being said will shape how you look at a future patient. Bar association meetings were a revelation to me about many of the procedures in my office regarding triaging and treating the injured, as the courts in every state clearly define the parameters for documentation requirements.
After a few sponsorships, the lawyers will get to know you and expect you to be there. They will start interacting with you more and before you know it, seeking counsel from you. You will then become part of the “club” and be watching others with their face pressing up against the glass, wondering how you got “in.” The insider gets the business at the end of the day, provided that he/she is clinically excellent and his/her work is admissible. That is the rule!