New to LNC--have been retained as expert witness---Advice please!!
1Jan 20, '10 by Nervous_NellieHi! First of all, I would greatly appreciate any advice you could offer to me, as I have fallen into Legal Nurse Consulting purely by luck, divine intervention, flukie-ness, what have you...
I have been a nurse for thirteen years, and have extensive experience in OB, especially fetal monitoring. So, a friend of mine has a LNC company and asked me to review a case--I absolutely loved it!! Well, the attorney said he was "so impressed" with my review that he has asked to retain me as an expert witness for a huge case. I feel very comfortable with this case and my skills (in my opinion, it's pretty open-and-shut), but not with all of the "other" stuff that accompanies all of this.
Sooooo, I'm meeting with this attorney on Friday, and I really want to make a good impression. I have never attended any of the LNC workshops or anything (I've thought about it, but I guess that doesn't count)...
Any ideas of what I should bring with me. He had asked for a CV, which I figured was a resume, of sorts. My thoughts was to basically list my education and work experience, with the work experience in detail as it would pertain to this case. Also, any certifications, as well as extra seminars and workshops.
Also, what should I do about the fee? The firm I was through before had an expert witness fee schedule, and I thought I would stick with that. They had a retainer fee of $500.00 listed, but they said they usually waive the retainer. Should I create my own invoice or fee-schedule? Also, this could span a few months...should I bill him monthly, or a whopper at the end? I was thinking monthly. This could require a good bit of driving and travel time, so it really could add up rather fast (whoo hoo...I am soooo doing a happy dance).
Sorry for writing a book, I just really don't know what the heck to do or where to start....thanks bizillions for any direction!
3Jan 21, '10 by sdaug90Nervous Nellie,
First of all congratulations with your case. My first LNC case was as an expert witness.
You definitely need to have a CV. The CV is your educational experience, work experience, continuing education, speaking engagements, literature you have written, etc.
The fee schedule needs to be yours, not your friends. Although we cannot discuss specific monetary charges for reviewing case files, you need to be very specific in what you charge. Most expert witnesses charge a different dollar amount for the case review and then will charge more for actually completing a deposition and trial. Definitely include travel time and mileage on your fee schedule.
You need to ask for a retainer up front and expect to receive the retainer PRIOR to starting on the case. Even though your friend said they usually don't ask for it, you really should get one. As far as billing after that, it's completely up to you. I generally will invoice the attorney upon completion of my review. I will then invoice for deposition, trial or any updates. Sometimes these cases can go on for years.
Most importantly, you need to have a signed letter of agreement or contract with the attorney, that is signed by both you and the attorney upon acceptance of the case. This agreement should specifiy what you are doing for him, your fee (including drive time, mileage, case review, deposition and trial), your expected retainer, and late charges for non-payment, at the very least. There are some "canned" agreements out there, but they need to be specific to your State. I highly recommend you check with your friend and see if she has a copy of her agreement or contract that she can let you see. Since you are going tomorrow, you don't have much time to prepare for this. But, I would definitely check with a contract attorney to make sure you have all of your bases covered. My contract attorney took a look at my "canned" contract and changed a lot of the information.
I apologize if this sounds overwhelming, since you are going tomorrow, but if you go to the meeting prepared, you will definitely impress the attorney.
Good luck tomorrow.
Shirley Daugherty, RN, RAC-CT, CLCP, MSCC, CLNC
0Jan 21, '10 by Nervous_NellieI can't tell you how much I appreciate the info!!! The contract/agreement is a fantastic pointer, and I will have one by the time I go tomorrow--I have become a quick study with all of this (out of necessity), and I really do want this attorney to take me seriously. I also want him to realize that, just because this is a first-time for me, that I am not going to be a pushover!!
I developed a CV, and a logo for myself (which I am ridiculously proud of...I'm not the most computer-literate person, especially with things like this) after I posted this...thank heavens for the internet--I was able to find templates that were such a tremendous help!
I had already reviewed the case, and have been paid for that, and my fee for the expert witness endeavor is roughly double the hourly rate of the review, which, in my research, is pretty normal. It also helps that I am very familiar with the case.
I have also been doing loads of reading about norms, and asked the attorney to find out the education provided to this department, as well as their proficiency measurements in fetal monitoring. I was thrilled to learn they use the same standard my hospital does...so I have lots of literature for him, which I think will be in my favor.
So far, I really love doing this, and hope to expand after this is done.
I'll post an update tomorrow, and let you know how it went.
Again, thank you thank you thank you!!!!!!