Disclaimer: This post is for information only. It does not constitute either legal or financial advice and anyone taking action based on this article should take appropriate professional advice before committing to any action.
The term “side hustle” is often used to mean any activity undertaken for gain outside the main employment. It is often seen as a less organised, usually minor, activity done in one’s free time.
The website White Coat Investor (incidentally run by an American Emergency physician) offers financial advice to (mainly American) doctors. It lists several possible “side hustle” activities through which doctors could earn extra income. The site includes acting as an expert witness in this list.
I would contend, however, that to be a successful expert witness in addition to keeping up with clinical practice, one cannot treat it as simply a side hustle. Building up this additional line of income requires a certain amount of organisation and indeed a business-like approach.
The skills and responsibilities needed to succeed as an expert witness range from good time management (in order to meet external deadlines) to entrepreneurial acumen (e.g. understanding the differences between operating as a sole trader or within a limited company). One cannot expect to succeed as an expert witness without taking into account the ancillary duties that come with it. Consider, for example, these aspects:
I have written previously on what it takes to establish a successful medicolegal practice and some of the aspects related to running it. In my experience, serving as a medical expert witness can be rewarding and add value to one’s clinical work. However, it cannot be done successfully without considering the very real business aspects of this activity. The expert who is just starting out or one who is expanding their operations may encounter much financial or legal trouble, including sanctions from the court, if they do not undertake these activities in a business-like manner.