Dr. Sarah Vinson is a unicorn– a Black unicorn, actually. She is a medical doctor, a psychiatrist who independently built a thriving private practice before opening a forensic mental health company that consults on legal cases all over the US. Lorio Forensics is likely the only Black woman owned forensic mental health company in America and in just a few years, it has emerged as a major competitor in the industry. Attorneys all over the US are calling this Black owned and staffed firm to help win court cases and they’re willing to write handsome checks to do so.
Dr. Vinson has always been two steps ahead. When she went to medical school, she had the bright idea that she could work fewer hours, make a good living and service a clear need for Black people as a psychiatrist, rather than a cardiologist or emergency room physician. When she wanted to open her own practice, people told her that she should lease a space, pay rent and deal with the overhead as a fact of life. She opted instead to buy a building and rent out space to others, allowing her practice to be more profitable. She was making a good living but then she started getting calls from attorneys who wanted her expertise on court cases. Some had clients who needed to be evaluated for mental illness, the results of which might determine their criminal culpability. Rather than field calls here and there, Dr. Vinson saw an opportunity to build and scale a business.
Dr. Vinson’s private medical practice was doing just fine but her new Lorio Forensics had a much greater potential. Government cases, private cases, the calls kept coming in but more importantly, a good number of Black defendants needed a culturally competent psychiatrist to accurately evaluate their condition and explain it to a criminal justice system all too eager to disregard them. Dr. Vinson made the choice to transition from consulting to truly building a business. She hired additional clinicians to handle her growing caseload. Primarily, she started hiring Black men and women who otherwise wouldn’t get opportunities to work on these cases, which compensate quite well. Capital murder cases, huge class actions and everyting in between is the everyday normal at Lorio Forensics. Daily, attorneys go to the Lorio Forensics website and see a multitude of Black faces and solicit their expertise in the courtroom and it feels normal.
Lorio Forensics isn’t a local Atlanta company anymore, they’ve worked cases as far away as Hawaii and Oregon, New York and all points in between. The forensics field is extremely lucrative but Black representation is rare. Black ownership is practically unheard of. Dr. Sarah Vinson is unique not just in providing representation in the field of forensic mental health, but in her ability to do so at such a high level. Her company is still expanding, hiring on new clinicians and taking on a growing number of clients. This HBCU grad is taking over, one case at a time.