- Academy of Chiropractic’s
Doctors PI Program
From the Desk of:
Mark Studin DC, FASBE (C), DAAPM, DAAMLP
The Advanced Course
“Solidifying Your PI Referral Base”
When you are truly the expert, lawyers will seek you out 7 days a week, 24 hours a day. That is not a marketing statement or an inflammatory statement or the typical chiropractic 2-step bull crap shuffle designed to impress you; it’s simply the truth. This past weekend was Father’s Day and my phone rang on Saturday at 8 AM, 9:30 AM and 3 PM. On Sunday, it only rang at 7 AM. However, the e-mails started soon thereafter with 6 e-mails throughout the day, all by a lawyer who needed me.
Personal injury lawyers are trial lawyers and when preparing for a trial, they need answers immediately. This particular lawyer is going to court today at 10 AM, as it is now Monday, and he needed answers in order to prepare his case for trial. The case started last week and I met with him previously to prepare (I will discuss that later). He has a witness for the defense on the stand that didn’t finish this past Friday and he needed to understand a lot of information in order to cross-examine the defense expert (IME). We logged a minimum of 90 minutes on the phone over the weekend that I will not charge him for, except for a cup of really good coffee. At the end of the last conversation he said to me, “I can’t believe I haven’t used you for every case I have ever had. I would be a very rich man if I did. Be prepared in the future to work on every one of my accident cases.”
I have known him for 10 years. His office is 30 miles from me and we have had 2 common cases in all of those years. He never referred me a case in the past. Now he wants to have every one of his cases work with me and he doesn’t care how far they have to travel. This is a lawyer with a substantial practice, who can make me busy for years to come. Now let’s get to how this happened, as many of you appreciate the end result and want the same, but don’t know how to go from this story to making it work for you.
This is the lawyer discussed above. I was scrolling though my Outlook address book one day because I needed to do something mindless in the middle of working on a tedious project and my mind was drifting and saw his name. I hadn’t seen Mr. Lawyer (#1) for quite a while, but I had worked with him in the past and he had attended my “Lawyers Roundtable” discussions in the past. I called him and simply said, "I just got a hold of new research that will help you prevail in your cases. Do you want it?" He was very interested and we met for breakfast just to catch up. I explained the research to him and taught him how to use it in his practice.
At the end of the meeting I said to him, "You know I don’t practice anymore, but if you have any cases that you need help with or want another pair of trained eyes on, I love doing this stuff and will review any case for you. The price is another breakfast." Although I no longer actively treat, my practice consists of P-IME’s and expert testimony and it is something I could do full time if I chose to, just as you could. #1 said, "I am preparing for a trial and would love for you to see the materials I had made as exhibits." I asked him who his witness is and complimented his witness, although I don’t think much of him.
We met again early the following week and he brought with him a poster board of a blown up sagittal MRI view of the cervical spine because the MRI report said there were herniations, no axials. I looked at him and simply said, “You are going to lose your case.” His reaction surprised me; he simply looked at me and said, “Teach me right now.” I spent the next 30 minutes taking all of the MRI films he had brought with him, showing him the axials, where the confirmation of 95% of all herniations exist, and explaining to him the necessity of 2 opposing views for confirmation of pathology on film.
I taught him how to understand the axial view confirming the herniation, as the sagittal wasn’t showing what he needed to confirm the herniation. I also took the opportunity to share with him that his expert was not doing him any justice by not explaining this to him up front or perhaps he simply did not know. Basically, I explained to him everything in the MRI Spine Interpretation Course in lay terms so that he could understand it and present his case properly. I also explained to him that the days of using poster board in court are over and he should be using a digital projector to blow his MRI images up to 10 feet wide so the jury can really see and understand the images. #1 then went and got a digital projector and the MRI films on a disc to project on a screen in the courtroom. I taught him how to ask his expert and the defense expert simple questions so everyone in the courtroom could understand the herniations and I made him throw away the poster boards that he spent $250 creating.
At the end of the meeting, he was deeply impressed with my knowledge base and asked if I had any credentials behind me in MRI interpretation. Understanding the 6 P’s (Proper Planning Prevent Piss Poor Performance), I had brought my laptop with me and made sure I had Internet access. I brought him to the US Chiropractic Directory (www.USChiroDirectory.com) and pulled up my CV for him. After reading it he said, “I should have used you for this case. I wasn’t aware of your credentials.”
As a note, when I went back to my office, I e-mailed him the link to my CV and told his secretary to remind him to go find it and print it. I wanted to get him into the habit of using the US Chiropractic Directory to find me so that he could always find me and send his clients there as well. Although I do not actively treat, I get many calls and refer many patients to local DC’s. If I don’t get the referral, too many patients end up in orthopedic or PMR’s offices and bypass chiropractic.
Tools...You need them to succeed in practice and more so in personal injury.
The tools I used were all gotten in the courses to become Trauma Qualified + My CV on the US Chiropractic Directory:
- Triage Trauma Patients [Personal Injury Bootcamp]: 9 Hours
- MRI Spine Interpretation: 25 Hours
- Spinal Biomechanical Engineering: 16 Hours
- Spinal Trauma Pathology
- Spinal Disc and Ligament Neurology and Pathology – 7 Hours
- Accident Reconstruction: 8 Hours
- Impairment Rating: 2 Hours
- Head Trauma - Brain Injury or Mild Traumatic Brain Injury: 2 Hours
- Electrodiagnostics; EMG/NCV Interpretation – 10 Hours
- Concussion; TBI-mTBI-PTSD Testing and Diagnosis - 10 Hours
- Stroke Anatomy & Evaluation for Chiropractors and Manual Medicine Specialists: 8 Hours
AND...the US Chiropractic Directory:
- Ensured that the lawyer wouldn’t lose my CV, as I guarantee he would have put it in the folder for this case, never to remember how to find it. I trained his staff how to use the directory on the phone after the meeting, and in subsequent conversations, the lawyer confirmed that he did misplace my CV. He also shared with me that he was easily able to find my listing and commented on my “professional looking placement on the Web site and credentials on the Internet so that he could find them whenever he needs them.” He also told me he bookmarked the page on his computer.
This past weekend when the lawyer called me, he informed me that although the case wasn’t concluded, as they were getting to the extent of functional loss in the case, the bodily injury portion was solidified with the axial views showing herniations in a “larger than life” format. That was a “slam dunk” win. He continued by telling me it was so successful that the defense lawyer was asking him how he learned so much and where she could take courses, as #1 did, for her future cases.
The issues that arose in the functional loss conversations over the weekend are a topic for the next consultation. However, the lawyer was very clear in his message, which was:
“I will use you for every case I ever get in the future, as everything you shared with me was accurate and legally defensible [backed up] in the medical literature and understandable to the lay person. In addition, you made me a significant amount of money that I clearly would have lost if I did not have your level of expertise to guide me.”
This is what clinical excellence, backed by credentials and professionally positioned exposure (for perception purposes, in a 3rd party validation paradigm), creates. The tools utilized, along with the knowledge, were the required elements for the competitive edge to win.
Getting lawyers to run after you is as simple as being the “real deal” and positioning yourself to let them know it. You have all of the tools at your fingertips. Your competitive edge is that you know the tools and they have been clearly defined for you. Your competition doesn’t even know the tools exist and furthermore, they don’t even know they need to use them. This is how you win.