Academy of Chiropractic’s Lawyers PI Program
Lawyers Meetings & Communication 5
From the Desk of :
Mark Studin DC, FASBE (C), DAAPM, DAAMLP
"Preparing for the First Meeting with a Lawyer"
I have chronicled in detail what to bring and say in a first meeting with a lawyer in many previous consultations. However, over time, those recommendations have changed as I keep learning more. In fact, based upon how fast the industry; inclusive of court rulings, insurance requirements, licensure requirements and research findings change, the game plan has been significantly changing at least 3-4 times per year, with each change bringing more success as you have no peers in this paradigm. No one can keep up with your access to knowledge and how to leverage it to ensure success. Also get comfortable with the fact that these recommendations WILL be changing in a short amount of time because I will keep learning more and then sharing it with you. The result; last year our doctors averaged 9 new case per month, this year it's 15 and next year...who knows...18-20-25? I am excited to sit back and watch you win!
The #1 question asked of me is what educational flyer do I bring in a meeting with the lawyer for the first time? My answer has always been to pick the best 3-4 that you are the most familiar with. Although still relevant, that is no longer the case.
The #2 question is: what is the most important speaking point I need to get across to the lawyer. My answer was "We clinically correlate causality, bodily injury and persistent functional loss." Although still relevant, that is no longer the case.
The #3 question is how I get them to refer to me. My answer was never ask for the referral and your goal is to get them to invite you back monthly. Although still relevant, that is no longer the case.
The #4 question is what paperwork I give the lawyers to keep. The answer previously was an educational binder with a copy of your CV and a separate binder with a sample narrative. Although still relevant, that is no longer the case.
Here are the changes:
When you meet with a lawyer, bring the following:
In the past, I have strongly recommended educational binders and they have been the staple of the relationship with the legal community. Over the past few years, Dr. Bill Owens and I have worked very hard to position you in a more authoritative position with a cost-saving tactic. We wrote a book and put the first 101 bi-monthly fliers in the book.
As each page is color, at its least expensive it is approximately $1.00 per page to print. The book is therfore a more cost-effective way of educating. In addition, what is more impressive from a perspective position? To visit a lawyer and give them a 3-ringed binder that you made copies and inserted, or give them a book? The answer is DUHHHH!!!!!!! (did you miss the sarcasm?)
In 100% of the instances, lawyers want the book and most are incredibly frugal (cheap bastards!!!) and will appreciate not having to buy it although they know they need it.
The title of the book is “Evidenced Based Demonstrative Evidence of Bodily Injuries from Trauma.”
Go to www.lulu.com and type “Studin” in the search box to find the book, or simply CLICK HERE.
The cost of the book is $99 (paperback) and if you register and buy 1, they will periodically send you discount codes. The first question everyone asks “do members get a discount.” To answer that succinctly: the bastards made me pay full price for my own book… and…being Jewish you have no idea how hard it is for me to buy retail … OY!!!! When you do an initial look-up the cost might be higher, however when you register the cost becomes $99 per book.
When you have the book, inside the front cover, place your offices demographic information; name, address, phone, email and instructions to get to your CV on the US Chiropractic Directory. You must realize that it is an ethical issue with many lawyers not to directly refer. In court, it will come up and AGAIN…although you will rarely get to court, lawyers always prepare for the end-game... COURT. By acknowledging this fact, you will, at the onset let them know you understand their needs at the most basic level. With many lawyers, this is the single most important sticking point, while others simply do not care… You do.
On the table of contents of the book, with a yellow highlighter, highlight 4-5 topics that you are most comfortable with. Currently, the 3 most significant topics nationally are (note: as the book gets updated, the chanters get rearranged so I will not list the chapter numbers):
1. Arthritis & Accidents
2. Sprains are Permanent
3. Asymptomatic Disc Herniation’s
These 3 are the hottest topics nationally where plaintiff lawyers have challenges with both settlements and court issues as opposing counsels are using rhetoric on these topics to prevail where the facts do not support their case. FIRST...you have to make sure that you are CRYSTAL clear that these issues are germane only when clinically present and you fully understand the research.
You MUST get the research articles for ALL 3 of these topics and respect the copyright laws by purchasing them as required by law. Simply go to Google and do a search. Many of the articles are free, but some require a purchase. The average cost is $35 per article. Also…be cognizant that you should never email illegally obtained research. That is how lawyers make fortunes on class-action lawsuits. Everyone in the email chain gets sued and copyright infringement is a fast-growing sect of law and lawsuits.
You MUST know these 3 topics "inside and out" including every word on the research. Remember, you are the expert and you can't do the “old chiro 1-step, 2-step” or another way of putting it, you can’t bullshit your way through this meeting like so many others DC’s do, only be partially correct, which is tantamount to being wrong. You should highlight the actual research for the lawyers to quickly focus on the major points during your meeting. You must be the "easy button" for the lawyers.
When you review the table of contents and the 101 topics, inform them if they understand the concepts on every issue, they will never lose a case on rhetoric. In fact, this becomes their personal injury educational "encyclopedia" with the supporting research to overcome any level of argument that is steeped in rhetoric vs. facts to ensure prevailing in cases. Also inform the lawyer that you have a relationship with the authors and they are working on the next edition, which currently has another 44+ chapters. You are in possession of them with permission to discuss and distribute them as needed. However, first you want to ensure they understand the first 101.
They should also FULLY UNDERSTAND that their staff MUST be knowledgeable on every topic as well. If not, they could have a 6 or 7 figure case languishing in their files past the statute of limitations to lose a case because their staff didn't understand one word, such as myelopathy.
To overcome that, you are willing to sit with them once a month for an hour to explain the previous and any new topics. Explain that your relationship with the authors is they are your professors as part of your doctoral graduate studies and each month new topics are being published and it is your goal of this meeting to set a monthly appointment with the lawyer and their staff to educate them on the new topics.
OR... Old School: Binders: If you do not want to maximize your results with a book, then a binder is the next best thing (although the book has shown to have better results). Get a 3-ringed binder (preferably white with a pocket on the front cover to insert your demographic information), and go to the bi-monthly fliers in section #12, Educational Library. Download the table of contents and the three topics requested above and place them in the binder along with the table of contents and share the table of contents with the lawyers, then show them the three fliers with the full research and follow the steps above. This process works and has been responsible for 1000's of referrals, but the book is infinitely better for obvious reasons.
Lawyers must have CV’s in order to argue a case and if you have a robust CV, then you are a real option for the lawyers. Remember, you can’t BS your way through a meeting with a lawyer and CV’s are admissible documents that lawyers are experienced and expert at analyzing. Every state has strict guidelines/rules/regulations in confirming an expert and a doctor’s CV is the single most important document for that purpose. Many other "consulting guru’s" in the industry will tell you that your CV is useless because it means nothing in settlement. This exercise is not about settlement, it is about your relationship with the legal community in getting them to bypass MD specialists and other DC’s to consider you as the primary spine care provider or first provider to refer to… And it is working with your CV as part of the equation.
There is no ONE magic bullet, each piece plays an important part of the puzzle in becoming the 1streferral option. A robust CV in admissible format is one of those critical puzzle pieces.
In addition, your CV should be constantly changing as you increase your credentials and knowledge base will result in an increased appeal to the legal community. Therefore, you must get the lawyers in the habit of going to the US Chiropractic Directory to retrieve your CV and see your updated CV. This habit, will also get the lawyers in the habit of sending their clients to the site as a primary referral source rendering moot any ethical issues of direct referrals. The referral is from the US Chiropractic Directory and the lawyer can now say with full integrity that they sent their client to the US Chiropractic Directory and the patient chose you independently. In addition, every new entry becomes "searchable" and increases your SEO (search engine optimization) on all search engines. This is a FREE step for you and why some doctors get more referrals, while others...not so much. What do you want?
Tell the lawyer, to access my CV please follow 3 easy steps:
2. In the name search type: STUDIN
3. Click on "View Doctors Credentials" on the left below the address
However, for this meeting, I have prepared a copy of my CV for you and give them a copy in a binder or portfolio that opens with a pocket on each side. For this meeting, go to Kinkos or any printer and have your CV printed on the best paper stock they have (pennies) and have it bound with a fancy cover. If it is special, then it MUST look the part.
I also STRONGLY suggest that you use technology in your meeting. Bring with you an I-Pad or similar as a first choice, or a laptop as a second choice and show them your CV at the meeting. Make sure you focus on your MRI, accident reconstruction and triaging the injured credentials as that is what they are "locked into" based upon their preconceived beliefs prior to your meeting.
Remember, your CV is what makes YOU admissible. All the rhetoric in the world will not get a court to allow your testimony into evidence if you do not have the credentials behind you. Also do not be delusional in thinking that you have never been to court and won't get there anytime soon and think this a non-significant issue for the lawyer. I repeat, although the lawyer will rarely if ever take you to court, that is how they judge you and will base much of their future referrals on how good a witness you could make. In order to be the first referral option, this again, is a piece of the puzzle... A VERY LARGE ONE.
"WHITE PAPER" OF SOFT TISSUE
I have created a white paper on "Soft Tissue Injuries" that is integral to every lawyer practicing in the field of personal injury, both plaintiff and defense. It is a referenced article and I suggest that you include this document in your portfolio to the lawyers. It is the 3rd document, behind the book on demonstrable evidence and your CV that will ensure they understand that you are both expert in personal injury and you understand their issues. To access the full document, CLICK HERE
LOOK THE PART AND DRESS THE PART
Years ago, I took a course titled “Dress for Success" given by Robert Ponte` and his message was to always dress 1 notch up from where you need to be. If protocol dictates business casual, wear a sport’s jacket. If it calls for a sports jacket, where a suit, etc… I have always held to this philosophy and my business attire is all quality custom-made clothing and I have always “stood out” in the crowd to my benefit. This is not the place to cut corners financially.
This meeting is no different. I do not care if it is for breakfast or lunch, wear a suit… and a good one.
You only have 1 chance at a first impression and make it a lasting, good one. People notice these things and perception can become reality quite quickly.
NARRATIVES & FUNCTIONAL LOSSES DOCUMENTATION
Create a separate binder for a sample narrative and ensure that it looks very different from the other binders. I suggest again going to either a professional printer or Kinkos as they do professional bindings for presentations. Create a binder that is conservative, yet extremely "rich" looking. DO NOT GIVE IT TO THEM TO KEEP. If you do so, they will give it to the doctors they currently have relationships with and will bypass you; often forever forward. Inform them they can take as long as they need to look though it.
You may use the following graphic as long as you are in the program (meaning if you drop out of the program, you do not have permission to use it.
Below the logo, add your demographic information.
In the binder, either laminate each narrative page or place each page of your sample narrative in plastic sleeves, I also strongly urge you to include samples of IME & Peer Review rebuttals. After speaking to lawyers nationally, this is a persistent issue they contend with (except LOP states) and one they look for solutions of which you have. Another piece of the puzzle (Are you starting to see the entire puzzle yet?)
In addition, ensure you explain the Colossus issues and use the "Magic Language" presentation to explain it to the lawyers. Watch the video and have Alli send you the presentation in Power Point. To access the video, CLICK HERE and go to #30, "Magic Language to Lawyers Tutorial"
The "Magic Language" opener is the following:
Settlement offers of $20,000, $30,000, $40,000 on soft tissue cases 10 years ago have gone to $2,000, $3,000, $4,000 today.
I work with national strategists, trial lawyer associations and carrier’s representatives who have formulated solutions for your clients to realize fair and equitable settlements in today’s marketplace.
This is not how to defeat the carriers, it is about how to work within the carrier’s requirements resulting in fair settlement offers. I am in possession of the algorithms the carriers utilize to value your claims as this will also resolves your issues on the witness stand should you need to get there.
If you have about 10 minutes, I can explain to you how.
Read the Consultation "Lawyers and Medical Specialists Meetings & Communications #13" to learn the entire "Magic Language." This opening statement is simply meant to garner attention, not create the referral relationsip. You need the full explanation to do so and #13 gives you the full explanation.
Although this is discussed in later consultations, IME denials are a huge problem in most states for lawyers and is one of the prime reasons for losing cases. The issue is not IME reports that are done with integrity, it is those done by the “IME whores” who write anything to keep their “gravy train” going with the carriers. Therefore, you should add an IME rebuttal sample into the narrative binder that the lawyer DOES NOTE GET to take with them, but gets to review so that you can share with them your resolve for the truth to prevail.
By spending time on IME rebuttals, you will ensure that the lawyer realizes you understand their needs at the highest level. They will also respect that you have taken the extra steps to ensure the truth prevails. It is here that I also urge you to have Dr. Manoni CLICK HERE prepare the rebuttals for you. They are time consuming and require training and if you haven’t taken the time, or have the time, then an expert will do them for you.
To learn more, read in the consultations "Narratives #25 & #43."
Although the "Magic Language" takes precedence over any other talking points, the following is still critical to understand and communicate in either this meeting or over time.
Clinically correlating causality, bodily injury and persistent functional loss is still your mantra. That will never change and if you only talk Colossus, you will eventually communicate to the lawyer that you are ignorant to most of their other needs. Lawyers will ultimately judge you by their "end-game"... court... although they know they will rarely, if ever bring you there, that is how they judge you (have I said that already?). I didn't say it was fair, only factual. Remember, the goal is to become the 1st referral option and that cannot be done with simply a "Colossus type narrative" unlike what so many of the consulting guru's are trying to peddle in an effort to separate you from your money. It is important, but it is a small piece of the puzzle.
The other 3 essential components to get across are the P-IME's, refuting improper IME and peer reviews (HUGE) and that your fee for testifying is $0 (if you so chose). These 3 issues have been discussed at length in previous consultations and are "deal makers" with lawyers. More reasons to be the 1st referral choice.
The P-IME's will help level the playing field with defense IME's and the testifying for $0 makes you the primary choice for the lawyers with the soft tissue cases (disc and ligament injuries aka connective tissue disorders). Remember, we do not get the brain injuries, fractures and dismemberment cases anyway. We live predominantly in soft tissue (connective tissue disorders), which happens to be the #1 type of cases a lawyer represents.
The challenge you will have is you now have so much more to talk about and you do not want to appear dominating the conversation or like a "salesperson." In order to overcome that, start with the preamble for the "magic language" and ask permission to go on. If you communicate effectively, the lawyer will be captivated as you will be educating them on a facet of their business they need to know in order to prevail (make money). Read the magic language consutlation to learn how to communicate effectively fo rthe balance of the meeting.
WARNING..... NEVER-EVER-EVER-EVER talk about treatment. It is a deal-breaker and the lawyers could give a rat's ass about how you do anything other than make their job easier and more profitable. That is a hard rule and holds "doubly true" for the decompression offices. I promise you that lawyers do not care and you will turn them off! If you want to brag about your care...Call your mother and she MIGHT care!
I urge you to practice your talking point in front of a mirror prior to the meeting. It will matter greatly and a practice I have employed for years. To underscore that, I recently presented in front of 100's of trial lawyers . For my 20 minute presentation, I spent 20 hours preparing and practicing in front of a mirror with a stopwatch to ensure that I was able to get all of my points across in the allotted time I had.
Remember the 6 P's:
I chose to win and no one will ever "outwork" me as a reason for not winning.
I chose death over mediocrity.
What is your resolve?
BE PREPARED FOR YOUR MEETING and WIN!!!!!!!