The Legal Nurse Consultant
The role of the Legal Nurse Consultant (LNC) is a multifaceted career choice. The primary purpose of the LNC is to assist the nurse to understand the Board of Nursing (BON), Nurse Practice Act (NPA), Scope of Practice (SOP), Standard of Care (SOC), hospital policies and procedures then combine all of this knowledge to help prevent the nurse from entering into a litigious situation that could ruin his/her reputation. The LNC can assist Attorneys defending or prosecuting a health care provider.
Most Legal Nurse Consultants (LNCs) work as independents along with Attorneys as they glean through reams and reams of paper work to attempt to find the deviation(s) from the SOP/SOC that cause harm to the client (patient). Other LNCs assist Attorneys to find the adherence to the SOP/SOC that prevented harm to the client (patient).
If a Registered Nurse is interested in a career as a Legal Nurse Consultant, he/she needs to start researching different avenues of education. Also, the Registered Nurse should truly understand why he/she desires to seek this nursing career path. Examine your own reasons why you are choosing to enter into the world of medical-legal nursing. Many choose this career thinking it is a "get-rich-quick" career. It is not. Many think this is a great way to get out of "bed-side" nursing. This is the wrong reason to seek the career as an LNC. Much hard work is expected to be successful. In fact, this is probably one of the hardest jobs you will ever do.
The most important thing you can do for yourself to be successful is "sell yourself". Marketing is the key that unlocks the door to success. You need to possess the ability to market yourself. The key to success for the LNC. This takes determination, persistence and an undying ability to forge ahead despite disappointment.
Duties / Responsibilities
Here are but a few of the duties of the LNC:
- Review a case for merit
- Interpret medical record and translate medical/nursing terms, diagnoses, and treatment plans for the attorney-client
- Write brief to comprehensive reports
- Create timelines of important events and develop illustrations for demonstrative evidence
- Locate expert witnesses
- Prepare for deposition and trial preparation
- Coordinate and attend independent medical exams (IME)
Skills / Qualities
The LNC must be dedicated and persistent. They must possess the ability to interpret accurately, the medical record, be willing to spend countless hours pouring over a medical record (one of merit) searching for the commonality that links the 4 parts of the medical record:
- A duty was owed
- A duty was breached
- The breach caused an injury
One needs only RN experience to practice as an LNC. Of course, experience in a wide-range of nursing areas is better than minimal one-area experience. As of now, formal education is not necessary in order to practice as an LNC. One need not have a BSN. The only requirement is a current and unencumbered Registered Nursing License in the state of residence. Certification is also not a requirement in order to practice as an LNC.
In my opinion, I expect this to change and formal education be required. Also, certification as an LNC will be necessary as this all-important career path becomes more and more important in protecting the nurse. There are several entities that prepare the RN to practice as an LNC, but as pointed out, it is not necessary nor required. Most entities offer "basic" preparation as an LNC, and several offer "certificates of completion". One must beware of these educative entitles. Check out your BON and see which entity accepts CEUs to keep up with continuing education. Many BON only accept the American Association of Legal Nurse Consultant (AALNC) and no other educative entity.
As stated above, most LNCs branch out seeking their own self-employed business. Some have business partners with whom they work. Others seek out working with an Attorney Firm. The former is the more difficult way to start up a business; the latter seems to come easier.
Independent contractors can set their own fees including travel expenses as well as salaries that greatly depends on your ability to market yourself, your area (state/region) of practice, if you branch out nation-wide, etc. Some command the higher fees you've seen advertised. Most, however, are under that at varying range. You will see ads that state you can make $250/hour. This is, to me, unrealistic. When I first started out, I charged $100/hr, then slowly increased my fees as my business grew.
Working with an Attorney firm ensures a set salary, whereas being self-employed, you are dependent upon what business you can find. Most of my business came from "word of mouth" and I was successful in that respect. I have reinvented myself several times again and strictly work with the defense educating nurses and physicians about how to protect themselves from litigation. Of course, anyone can sue for anything but the case must have merit to be taken seriously.
So, to answer a question about salaries/fees, it is "hit and miss". Be professional at all times, expect disappointment, but never EVER give up.
As an RN consultant (LNC), you are not an amateur. LNCs need to remember that. You are the expert in this area (not in the Law - that is the attorney). So, market yourself/sell yourself as such.
I do not endorse any one entity for LNC education. I suggest checking out the American Association of Legal Nurse Consultants and the Vickie Milazzo program. These are the two most popular.
I will speak more about the role of the LNC in future Articles including how to market and prepare the client for a deposition.Last edit by sirI on Apr 22, '15
About sirI, MSN, APRN, NP Admin
sirI is an APRN with many years experience as OB-GYN NP - BC, (Emeritus), FNP - BC, and Legal Nurse Consulting. Her specialty areas include OB-GYN, trauma, education, and medical-legal education. She conducts seminars for nursing students, nurses, Residents, and other healthcare providers educating them on how to avoid litigation, assisting them with depositions, and conducting "Mock Trials" where the students are the players in the court proceedings. sirI is a Senior Administrator for allnurses.com.
sirI has 'many' year(s) of experience and specializes in 'Education, FP, LNC, Forensics, ED, OB'. From 'USA'; Joined Jun '05; Posts: 104,327; Likes: 27,143.Nov 17, '13I'm heavily interested in this aspect of nursing, in so much that I am pondering pursuing a law degree (JD). My question is, how did you get your start? Did you find a law firm and offer your services? Or did it just fall in to your lap?Nov 17, '13If anyone is truly interested in a career as LNC, I will be glad to assist you to market yourself and build a good clientele on the public boards. We can also discuss how to successfully use professionally looking marketing materials.
This will be very exciting and hopefully you can learn how to benefit your client (defendant and/or Attorney(s). (note as I said above, I exclusively work with defendants).
Just post here and I will contact you via private message for your email address. Do not post your email address on the public boards.
I will answer any questions that are deemed private; ones that you do not wish to be publicly discussed, but I prefer to help you on the public boards for others can benefit from our discussions.
I want all to know that I do this to help you and expect no compensation for my efforts. It is my way to give back to those who are interested in this career path. My way of giving back to the nursing community.
Stay tuned ....Last edit by sirI on Nov 17, '13Nov 18, '13Hello,
I am just starting my own Legal Nurse Consulting business. I have been putting many hours into researching this field. I went through the Vicki Millazo Institute and completed my exam in May. I am a stay at home mom with my 2 small children. I left the hospital setting when my son was born. I am creating this business from the ground up and I am looking for insight on a few things. I have been researching the different litigation/chronology software and wondered what the best one is for a one-consultant small business. Also, I have sent out postcards to attorneys in my area and did not get any leads. I was hoping for some insight on the best ways to market a small business. I live in a small town that is not familiar with Legal Nurse Consulting or what I can offer them. Any help for an up and coming LNC would be appreciated. Thanks so much.Nov 18, '13Quote from edefinisHello,
I am just starting my own Legal Nurse Consulting business. I have been putting many hours into researching this field. I went through the Vicki Millazo Institute and completed my exam in May. I am a stay at home mom with my 2 small children. I left the hospital setting when my son was born. I am creating this business from the ground up and I am looking for insight on a few things. I have been researching the different litigation/chronology software and wondered what the best one is for a one-consultant small business. Also, I have sent out postcards to attorneys in my area and did not get any leads. I was hoping for some insight on the best ways to market a small business. I live in a small town that is not familiar with Legal Nurse Consulting or what I can offer them. Any help for an up and coming LNC would be appreciated. Thanks so much.
Hello and good to meet you, edefinis
I read with interest your post. I will be writing another Article soon that will help you as you market your services so hopefully you can get many leads/clients. Give me a couple days to write the Article.
I answered your question about the software company via private message.
As you well know any purchase for something like this (software) can be expensive, but I've found the company I utilize do not charge an "arm and a leg" to sell their products and are excellent helping you along as you get started.
Please post in the new Article I will write in a few days for any other information (except the software suggestion - this is to stay private and communicate only with me when we speak via private message and/or email about the software.)
You can answer my pm's, but you cannot initiate sending them until you have at lest 15 public board posts. This is to cut back on spammers who use the Boards inappropriately. Until then, just answer my pms and then we can start communicating on the public boards, via email (I will send you my email later) and quite possibly speak on the phone if you wish. I will be happy to assist you and others with any question(s) you all may have in my new Article. I do prefer communicating on the public boards as this helps others who are starting out in this career.
Please know this is a hard career to get started in, but do not give up. My new Article will include several suggestions about marketing materials as well as how to provide "non-business" luncheons for your clients. By "non-business", I mean most of your conversation will be idle chit chat, get to know one another. BUT, always have business cards (brochures if you can afford them ..... I also have contacts for these that I will be talking about this in my new Article) when you to leave the Attorney clients and especially their Paralegals and Secretaries. I find I can communicate better with them than the actual Attorney client. When the Attorney meets you face-to-face and you show that you are not merely there to talk business, they lighten up and believe it or not, they remember you.
You can make a successful career as an LNC, you just have to work hard. If you decide to stay at home and use your home as your office, I suggest you dress everyday as if you are going to work....not necessarily business clothes, but not housecoat and slippers. LOL This will allow you to feel good about yourself and place yourself in a business-like atmosphere. I will also be speaking about changing your home address to add a "suite number" - a room that is strictly a business location for tax purposes.
Good luck. Look forward hearing from you.
sirINov 18, '13Quote from pknurseWe are desperately in need of Nurse-Attorneys. I get asked almost on a daily basis do I know anyone who has experience as a Lawyer and a nurse. There are not that many available. If you are already a nurse, I suggest making a list of what you can offer the client as a nurse and an attorney. It will highly depend upon what type of Law area you pursue.I'm heavily interested in this aspect of nursing, in so much that I am pondering pursuing a law degree (JD). My question is, how did you get your start? Did you find a law firm and offer your services? Or did it just fall in to your lap?
I have had many who have approached me wishing they became a nurse first and were able to get many years experience in all areas of nursing. I'm not saying this is necessary or advisable, but if you can become experienced in many areas of nursing THEN pursue a JD, you will be a valuable resource.
What you need to do is ask yourself this sincere question,"what do I want to do?" Am I more interested in the Law itself, nursing, or a combination?
To answer your question about me, I "beat the streets", looking for clients. Word of mouth helped me tremendously when one Attorney would suggest that I contact their colleague who needed my valuable experience as a nurse.
But, as I said before, Nurse-Attorneys are desperately needed. Think about how you want to proceed and go from there. This career path is a lucrative one, I might add. You will be in high demand!!
Good luck.Nov 19, '13Hello,
My name is Adele I am a RN with a BSN I was recently excepted to a MSN program for NP but I am not sure what route of advancement I want to take. I am considering LNC certification. I have read 100 post today saying I don't need to be cerified, watch for scams and marketing issues. I just requested to CLNC from Vicki but I am questioning if this is the route to take. I am willing to place 100% effort and monies but I want to assure it is worthy. I found your info to be the most rewarding. I would like to discuss info with you. I was trying to navigate through allnurses.com It was confusing at first too. Please help I value your input.Nov 19, '13Quote from adeletuckerHello adeletuckerHello,
My name is Adele I am a RN with a BSN I was recently excepted to a MSN program for NP but I am not sure what route of advancement I want to take. I am considering LNC certification. I have read 100 post today saying I don't need to be cerified, watch for scams and marketing issues. I just requested to CLNC from Vicki but I am questioning if this is the route to take. I am willing to place 100% effort and monies but I want to assure it is worthy. I found your info to be the most rewarding. I would like to discuss info with you. I was trying to navigate through allnurses.com It was confusing at first too. Please help I value your input.
You have made a wise decision to become educated as MSN NP. I highly suggest that you look for a program where you can receive further post-grad education as a Legal Nurse Consultant or Forensic Nurse. I think this is the wisest decision on your part. In my opinion, it is not necessary to go through a complete LNC program in order to combine your NP and LNC, but this is just my opinion. In fact, no BON makes a statement that an RN must be educated as an LNC (for now).
I will be writing other Articles on different Legal Nurse and Forensic Nursing entities which will include pre and post-grad education. There are several entities out there. Some are very good, but most are just basic level education as LNC. If you will give me time, I will create an Article discussing these entities and allow you to make up your mind which one you consider best for you.
Remember, it is not necessary to become educated as an LNC. I highly suggest you check out the American Association of Legal Nurse Consultants and purchase their recent text about the LNC. Like I said, formal education as LNC nor certification are necessary (at this time) to become an LNC. I do look for that to change in the future.
One last thing, if you do decide to become certified as an LNC, please check your BON and see which entity accepts Continuing Education by your BON. Many, if not most, only accept certification from the American Association of Legal Nurse Consultants. So, please check this out and beware. Just a word of caution.
Please be on the look out for future Articles about the LNC ( and the Forensic Nurse). Many LNCs overlap as Forensic Nurses and this might be something you might consider.
Good luck.Nov 19, '13Hello, I am already have an JD and have been seriously considering getting an BSN. Right now I dislike much of what I do in the legal arena, but in a few years down the road might consider returning to it in some facet, possibly as an LNC. Do you have any advice for someone like me, a person in law but looking to enter nursing?
Thank you.Nov 20, '13Quote from pknursePlease read this new Article about the JD/LNC: Combining the Doctor of Jurisprudence - the Legal Nurse ConsultantI'm heavily interested in this aspect of nursing, in so much that I am pondering pursuing a law degree (JD). My question is, how did you get your start? Did you find a law firm and offer your services? Or did it just fall in to your lap?
It might help you make some decisions, pknurse:
If I can be of further assistance please post in this Article. As I said above I'll be writing more (new Articles) that will cover marketing and professional materials for your marketing packet. if you need information on litigation software, post here and I will send a pm that will be helpful.Nov 21, '13Hello SirI,
Thank you so much for starting this post! I am an RN with over 20 years of experience and have been researching getting into Legal Nurse Consulting. I have talked with my BON and have studied the list of education programs on the AALNC site. I have also spend hours reading your posts and other posts comparing the different programs. I understand this will be a long, hard journey and not an easy way to success. I can't wait to get started on my way and am happy to know there are others on the same route to guide and assist me.