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Archive for August 21st, 2009

The phone conference began with an introduction. “Mike, this is Dr. So-and-So. He’s a forensic psychiatrist.” I immediately thought, “Cool, a physician whose area of expertise is the interface between mental health and the law!” Unfortunately, between my brain and my tongue that changed to, “Cool! Just like Hannibal Lecter!”

After an awkward silence, the meeting proceeded without with very little cannibalism as we tried to hammer out the structure of the proposed website. The directive was simple, yet stupefying (for me, anyway): No selling. In a website promoting this gentleman’s services, there must be no selling, no marketing, no hype, no pitch, no comparisons, and no opinions. Right away, you know this site’s gonna sear your face off (and serve it with a nice Chianti.)

It’s example number one-million of a profession where simply saying what it is has been twisted into something negative: expert witness for hire. You’re a lawyer defending someone accused of…something dire. It may help to suggest that your client is not “all there.” (sorry for the legal-ese!) It may be especially helpful if it also happens to be true. So you hire a forensic psychiatrist to review the file, interview the defendant and then testify in court that the defendant is impaired in some way.

And then, as if on cue, the prosecutor will go all Perry Mason on the Doctor’s ass and hammer him with, “Why should we trust you? You’re just a witness for hire! Your website is too sales-y! And it employs flash animation on the home page, which is really weak!” Then the doc turns to the camera, does a facepalm, and moans, “I should have gone to LivelyExchange!”

That’s why it pays to hire the best, kids. And if you can’t get him, call me. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to put the lotion on my skin, or I get the hose again.

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