Lawyers PI Program
From the Desk of:
Mark Studin DC, FASBE (C), DAAPM, DAAMLP
“Image is Everything”
In 1980, I took a course called “Dress for Success,” by Robert Ponte, in New York City. After the program ended, I went to Barney’s New York, a high-end clothing store, to dress myself. My wife went to Pierre Michelle, a hair stylist located in Trump Plaza, a skyscraper on 5th Avenue in New York, on one of the most expensive shopping avenues in the world. We made an active decision to change our image. Mr. Ponte imparted on us the critical step that image makes to secure success.
In the 80’s, everything was hands-on. The computer was just exploding and becoming the new workplace, so most everything was snail mail and face-to-face. We were taught that if you went to an event, always dress one notch up. If business casual was the attire, you wore business formal, as you wouldn’t be uncomfortably overdressed, but you would stand out and look the part of success.
In current times, I remember always seeing pictures of George Steinbrenner, owner of the NY Yankees. I rarely saw him without a tie and jacket, no matter the occasion; the same with any sitting President of the United States. They always dress just a little above their audience.
Doctors have a uniform, as do lawyers and other professionals. The reverse is also true; if your attire is not up to the standard of your patient, that will hurt your image. Patients expect a doctor to be in a “doctor uniform,” such as scrubs, a shirt and tie or a suit. It is a sign of respect that the patients have for us and conversely, it is a sign of respect that we should have for our patients to dress for them.
In this day and age, we predominantly live in the electronic world and the speed of business is faster than ever and getting faster. How do you stack up? You still need to dress for success in face-to-face meetings, but what is your image in all else that you do?
First, as we have discussed previously, your grammar has to be perfect. It matters greatly, more so than you can imagine. In talking to lawyers all over the country, that issue is a recurrent theme, as lawyers can’t understand how a doctor can go through many years of higher education and not write in complete sentences or put reports in business format. Grammatical errors often change the meaning in a report and can be the cause of a lawyer losing a case. It is that critical.
It destroys your image. That is like going to a black tie affair wearing a pair of khakis!
Your office notes that you loathe to do are barely legible or are so cryptic that they don’t reflect what you did…or…your notes have not been critiqued for compliance and the opposing counsel wants to use them to win the case and destroy your career in the process by informing the carrier to do a retrospective review on your notes. (Have you contacted Dr. Schonfeld for an audit?) That is a real image breaker in court when those fact sets are revealed.
It destroys your image. That is like going to a black tie affair wearing a pair of dirty khakis!
Your Web site does not reflect the professional you are in caring for the injured and is purely about wellness and pediatrics. It is great for a family practice, but does nothing for the lawyer looking to boost your image to the opposing counsel. There needs to be a balance if you do both.
It destroys your image. That is like going to a black tie affair wearing a pair of well pressed khakis!
Your narrative is not in admissible format, nor does it clinically correlate causality, bodily injury and persistent functional loss.
It destroys your image. That is like going to a black tie affair wearing a pair of dirty, blue jeans!
Your CV does not have any of the following credentials: disc pathology, spine pathology, interpretation of MRI’s, electrodiagnostics, triaging the injured or crash dynamics.
It destroys your image. That is like going to a black tie affair wearing a pair of dirty, blue jeans that have rips and oil stains!
You don’t often get the chance of making a second impression with anyone, let alone lawyers. However, in the environment of personal injury, it is always about the money. At the end of the day, if a lawyer sees your work and realizes that it will help him/her prevail in an honest and ethical manner based upon clinical excellence and admissibility, then you get that second chance to change your image and reputation.
It’s always about the results, yet your image and reputation (which I feel are one and the same) will dictate the level of success in anything you do. Personal injury is no different, but in this case the stakes are higher because it will directly affect your ability to work and succeed in this field.
There are no shortcuts. Your CV and narrative are critical. Your ability to write in proper English matters greatly. Your appearance and knowledge level are crucial, as the lawyer will size you up as a witness even if they use you once every 5 years. It all matters, so as the title says, “Image is Everything,” and everything you do creates that image.