Texas Medical Legal Consultants finds niche between medical/legal
Mixing law and medicine is a family practice for sisters Elizabeth Tomasovic LaBarge and Kathryn Tomasovic Goertz. LaBarge is a lawyer, while Goertz manages her father’s medical practice. Together the sisters own and operate Texas Medical Legal Consultants (TxMLC).
The team works as a liaison between medical professionals and the lawyers who hire them to review legal cases and provide courtroom testimony.
“Attorneys sometimes misperceive us as a ‘locator service’ or think that they will need to pay us a fee, which isn’t the case,” says LaBarge. The team’s financial compensation comes from the medical professionals they work with.
LaBarge says many doctors and nurses are interested in serving as expert medical witnesses, “but they don’t know how to get involved.”
TxMLC helps those medical professionals set up their medical legal practice while helping established experts streamline their medical legal work. They declined to reveal the financial details, but did say their experts receive “hundreds of dollars an hour.”
One surgeon who asked not to be named says the company helps him collect and organize medical-legal records concerning the legal cases he reviews. “They also act as a middle-man in answering attorney’s questions as to my educational and medical practice background, as well as my experience in legal reviews,” he says.
The doctor adds, “They coordinate billing and collecting. TxMLC also mentions my name to attorneys who are looking for neurosurgical expertise.”
Another of TxMLC’s clients, orthopaedic spine surgeon Dr. Ajeya Joshi says, “they are very good intermediaries,” and complemented their professional networking on behalf of the physicians they represent.
LaBarge says, “Health care professionals are extremely busy, and we are available to communicate with the law firms on their behalf while they (the doctors) are busy treating patients.”
The surgeon who asked to remain anonymous adds, “Prior to my working with TxMLC, I did all of this ground work myself, which usually proved to be quite a burden.”
Goertz says, “By outsourcing that work to our team, the experts receive the benefit of enhanced satisfaction by the law firms paying for their services,” says Goertz. “When we keep both the expert and attorney happy, the attorney is more likely to retain the expert on future cases.”
Valerie Rios, a paralegal with Goldman Phipps, says, “We don’t have to run around to find the person we need.”
With TxMLC, her firm can name a type of specialist. “They’ll give us a couple of choices,” Rios adds.
Rios says TxMLC also helps lawyers leap past the thorny issue of medical experts who “look good on paper but may not present themselves well” in court. “What is unique about Texas Medical Legal Consultants is that they go out of their way to meet their physicians in person,” Rios says.
Goertz says that component of their service “has allowed us to expand throughout Texas at a manageable rate while still maintaining a personal relationship with all the experts that we manage.”
Doctor in the house
Goertz and LaBarge witnessed the challenges of the medical legal field through the experiences of their father, Dr. Jerry Tomasovic, a pediatric neurologist and medical legal expert. LaBarge says, “His office staff was so busy with his clinical practice that no one was following up on overdue invoices (for reviewing legal cases).”
In 2004, Dr. Tomasovic asked Goertz to manage his medical legal business.
“Within the first year as his medical legal assistant, I collected 100 percent of what was billed on his behalf,” says Goertz. “I found that I was building relationships with attorneys and paralegals and often received calls requesting recommendations for other experts.”
The experience planted the seeds for TxMLC, although neither Goertz nor LaBarge planned careers related to medicine. When Goertz joined her father, she was working at KENS-TV as a member of the floor crew — the behind-the-camera studio staff. The job capitalized on her broadcast journalism degree from the University of Texas in Austin.
Meanwhile, LaBarge was a general business litigation attorney in St. Louis after moving there to attend Washington University Law School. Two years ago, she began looking for a career option that was more compatible with the travel demands of her husband Parker LaBarge’s career as a professional golfer.
“When Liz decided to move back to San Antonio, I knew it was time to combine my administrative experience with her legal background and form a unique niche within the medical legal field,” says Goertz.
“One of the greatest things about starting TxMLC was that it involved no capital investments — just time,” says LaBarge. “We did not need a physical office or corporate assets to conduct business.”
Goertz adds, “Our goal was to create a company with very low overhead in order to maximize profit.”
Since the firm opened two years ago, Texas Legal Medical Consultants has handled thousands of cases. The firm is adding more experts from other parts of the country and continues to build its reputation among attorneys.
“We do not do any marketing or print advertising,” says Goetz.
LaBarge notes, “The best ways for us to promote ourselves in the legal community are through networking opportunities and repeat business.”
Their experience enhances the Texas Medical Legal Consultant’s credibility.
LaBarge says, “It gives the experts a sense of security to have an attorney managing their cases. I am also conscious of discovery laws, litigation deadlines, etc., which is a benefit to the attorneys we work with.”
Goertz says, “My experience in the medical legal field has proven to be beneficial to the success of our company. I have built many strong relationships with both attorneys and physicians over the last decade.
Before going into business together, the sisters had heard of the pitfalls of working in a family-owned and operated business. Their experience has been positive.
“My admiration and respect for my sister is the driving force behind my work ethic. There’s no one I look up to more,” says Goertz.
LaBarge adds, “Whoever said to never work with family has never met my sister. It has been an incredible blessing for us to work together and build something that is a shared vision.”
Texas Medical Legal Consultants Principals: Elizabeth Tomasovic LaBarge, Co-president & CEO; Kathryn Tomasovic Goertz, Co-president & CFO Primary service: Medical legal consulting Year founded: 2010 Address: P.O. Box 782173, San Antonio, TX 78278 Phone: 210-316-3610 Website: txmlc.com No. of employees: 2 Annual revenues: Not disclosed
View the original article at San Antonio Business Journal