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  • Side Hustle Blues

    So this might be an unusual one and I am not exactly sure what I am looking for in the way of advice but thought that I would throw it out for comment on the forum of what must be one of the biggest side hustles in our profession.

    I am 58 and have been retired from clinical for 5 years. Don't realistically need any additional income.

    I love to teach and my local med school is 5 minutes down the road so I have continued to be involved in curriculum development and teaching. This pays about $100 an hour and I can do it pretty much whenever I want although it tends to fall in blocks of 8-12 weeks but can get coverage if want to go away for up to 4 weeks even if I have committed to it. I love working with learners and I love to learn so I enjoy it very much and would do it for free. This is not the issue.

    The area I have the dilemma in is medicolegal work. From early in my professional life I was involved in national Guideline development and CME (my then Chairman frequently reminded me what a waste of time this was). So now it turns out that if you did that sort of thing and you had a busy practice, you could be in demand for this kind of work. I had done a bit before I was retired and it was ok. After retirement I decided to continue with it as I had more time obviously and there are some upsides. I feel like I am helping my colleagues and the profession when I do this as well as the public, it is very interesting work (both on the medical and the legal side), there is much flexibility, and it does pay pretty well (5-10x the rate for teaching). Of course there are downsides too - it is work and someone is paying you so it is reasonable that they have expectations, if one has to testify then there is a commitment to trial time and this can be a moving target, and also when testifying it can be somewhat stressful. So until now it hasn't been much of an issue but it seems that there is a tipping point at which both defense and plaintiff lawyers get to know you and if you produce good reports and are credible on the stand then the e-mails start to come in. So this month I have had 4 requests so far and I am a bit torn. The novelty slowly wears off and there is the realization that any case that one gets involved in may not go to trial for two or three years.

    So I realize that I have to figure it out for myself but wondered what others' thoughts might be.

  • #2
    "It's easy to sit there and say you'd like to have more money. And I guess that's what I like about it. It's easy. Just sitting there, rocking back and forth, wanting that money."
    - Jack Handey

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    • #3
      You don’t realistically need any more income.

      In that case I wouldn’t do anything I didn’t enjoy, or find rewarding.

      Comment


      • #4
        The problem might solve itself. My friend, the plaintiff’s lawyer, has told me that once you quit practicing, you have about five years to be useful as an expert witness. If that is true, your shelf life is about up.
        Last edited by VagabondMD; 12-07-2019, 01:08 AM.

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        • #5
          I'm fascinated by medicolegal stuff. So I'd probably do it.

          But if you are already feeling put off by it, I would recommend you do not pursue it.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by uptoolate View Post
            So this might be an unusual one and I am not exactly sure what I am looking for in the way of advice but thought that I would throw it out for comment on the forum of what must be one of the biggest side hustles in our profession.

            I am 58 and have been retired from clinical for 5 years. Don't realistically need any additional income.

            I love to teach and my local med school is 5 minutes down the road so I have continued to be involved in curriculum development and teaching. This pays about $100 an hour and I can do it pretty much whenever I want although it tends to fall in blocks of 8-12 weeks but can get coverage if want to go away for up to 4 weeks even if I have committed to it. I love working with learners and I love to learn so I enjoy it very much and would do it for free. This is not the issue.

            The area I have the dilemma in is medicolegal work. From early in my professional life I was involved in national Guideline development and CME (my then Chairman frequently reminded me what a waste of time this was). So now it turns out that if you did that sort of thing and you had a busy practice, you could be in demand for this kind of work. I had done a bit before I was retired and it was ok. After retirement I decided to continue with it as I had more time obviously and there are some upsides. I feel like I am helping my colleagues and the profession when I do this as well as the public, it is very interesting work (both on the medical and the legal side), there is much flexibility, and it does pay pretty well (5-10x the rate for teaching). Of course there are downsides too - it is work and someone is paying you so it is reasonable that they have expectations, if one has to testify then there is a commitment to trial time and this can be a moving target, and also when testifying it can be somewhat stressful. So until now it hasn't been much of an issue but it seems that there is a tipping point at which both defense and plaintiff lawyers get to know you and if you produce good reports and are credible on the stand then the e-mails start to come in. So this month I have had 4 requests so far and I am a bit torn. The novelty slowly wears off and there is the realization that any case that one gets involved in may not go to trial for two or three years.

            So I realize that I have to figure it out for myself but wondered what others' thoughts might be.
            I know how you feel. I'll let you know if I figure it out.
            Helping those who wear the white coat get a fair shake on Wall Street since 2011

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by The White Coat Investor View Post

              I know how you feel. I'll let you know if I figure it out.
              Yes I figured that the amount of time you put in is orders of magnitude larger and going through issues like the Forum reset have to be trying. Definitely hope that you continue to find the motivation and energy. We all thank you very much!

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by VagabondMD View Post
                The problem might solve itself. My friend, the plaintiff’s lawyer, has told me that once you quit practicing, you have about five years to be useful as an expert witness. If that is true, your shelf life is about up.
                Yes perhaps that will eventually occur but if the experts I see on both sides are any indication then this may not be absolutely true. To complicate things even more, timelines in my area of expertise are quite drawn out. I was just asked to review a case that occurred in 1998. As well, I do do some clinical work overseas but am very up front regarding my local clinical status. I can't see wanting to keep it up for very long even though it is interesting. At this point, things are precisely the opposite of slowing down.

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                • #9
                  So work less... And how has the statute of limitations not passed yet for something in 1998? Even if it's a birth injury shouldn't that be 21 yr, soon to be 22

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                  • #10
                    I really thought after retiring from clinical practice your usefulness as an expert was nil. I wonder if this varies by state. In a trial any reasonable defense lawyer would shoot down the opinion I think. I found the stress of a trial situation is not worth any amount of money (unless it was 1 million per day).

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Why don't you simply establish some healthy boundaries? As in, "I will take on 2 case reviews per month because that represents a good life balance for me."

                      Then when you get a call for a third case, you can simply say "I am busy this month, but I can put it on my roster for next month if you are willing to wait."

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Hatton View Post
                        I really thought after retiring from clinical practice your usefulness as an expert was nil. I wonder if this varies by state. In a trial any reasonable defense lawyer would shoot down the opinion I think. I found the stress of a trial situation is not worth any amount of money (unless it was 1 million per day).
                        It may be different in different jurisdictions. The thing seems not to be whether you are clinically active today (although that is a plus to be sure) but whether you were clinically active at the time of the case. The wheels move very slowly in many of these cases. The last case I was at trial for was from 2009 and that was October. The statutes are somewhat flexible here in that I believe it is 3 years from the recognition of a deficit (although some think 3 years from the event that caused the deficit it does not seem this is true) and then when the child (yes these are OB cases) turns 18 the clock resets again for 3 years so there is the possibility for a second wave. Fortunately, for clinicians, we are not in a very litigious environment and all of the defense work is handled by one organization nationally. I have been told by defense lawyers that the reason they come back to me is because of the level of detail in my reports and the way ideas are communicated in them. This is largely possible because I am retired, I wouldn't be able to spend so much time if I were clinically active.

                        I do completely agree regarding the stress of trial though in my last one the opposition lawyer was much more civil and not that many of the cases actually go to trial. One of the good things about being involved is the gratitude of defendants when on the defendant side. As many of us know, the entire process of being a defendant can be incredibly difficult.

                        The concept of healthy boundaries is a good one but this is complicated by my tendency to be a bit of an all or none person. The work and stress of being involved in a few cases seems similar to being involved in more although clearly this isn't really true. I have declined cases using just that phrase as well as said that I would not be able to respond very quickly if they have a tight timeline and I am working on something else.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by White.Beard.Doc View Post
                          Why don't you simply establish some healthy boundaries? As in, "I will take on 2 case reviews per month because that represents a good life balance for me."

                          Then when you get a call for a third case, you can simply say "I am busy this month, but I can put it on my roster for next month if you are willing to wait."
                          What do you do when you're then 13 months out.....other than raise prices.
                          Helping those who wear the white coat get a fair shake on Wall Street since 2011

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by The White Coat Investor View Post

                            What do you do when you're then 13 months out.....other than raise prices.
                            who cares, in that situation you're retired and it's a side gig

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                            • #15
                              Just received another request today. That's three in ten days and 5 in two months. Healthy balance... so turned this one down also after considering that I still have a few ongoing with four others outstanding to review. Could turn into a full time gig which I definitely don't want!

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