The medical world and the legal world often collide, and cases of medical fraud or medical malpractice are excellent examples of such collisions. Since judges, lawyers, and members of the jury aren't generally familiar with the world of medicine and medical terminology, they often need assistance from medical experts to fill in their knowledge gaps. Legal nurse consultants (LNCs) do just that. The legal nurse consulting specialty is a relatively new one, taking root in the late 1970s, and establishing itself further in 1989 with the formation of the American Association of Legal Nurse Consultants. Not only are these RNs experts in clinical medicine, but they have an excellent grasp on the legal aspects of medicine and the inner workings of the wider healthcare industry. LNCs commonly assist legal professionals in personal injury, worker's compensation, medical malpractice, insurance fraud, and other cases.
What Are Some Legal Nurse Consultant Duties?
Duties that legal nurse consultants are commonly tasked with typically include:
Screen cases for merit
Locate or serve as an expert witness
Act as a liaison between lawyers and healthcare providers
Attend mediations, arbitrations, and depositions
Identify medical standards of practice
Conduct client interviews
Review and analyze medical records
Educate attorneys about various medical issues
Translate medical language for attorneys and other legal staff
Produce exhibits for trials and depositions
Consult on product liability cases
Audit medical bills
Prepare reports and summaries on the extent of an injury or illness
Where Do Legal Nurse Consultants Work?
LNCs can find employment in a number of medical and legal settings, including:
Law firms (personal injury, product liability, medical malpractice)
Health maintenance organizations (HMOs)
Self-employed independent practices
Patient safety organizations (PSOs)
Long-term care patient centers
Business and industry legal departments
How to Become a Legal Nurse Consultant
Breaking into the field of legal nurse consulting means first becoming a fully registered nurse. A keen interest in both nursing and law are required for this role. Most employers of legal nurse consultants will want their employees to have at least a couple of years of experience in the nursing field. LNC aspirants can acquire a formal training course and certification in legal nurse consulting through the American Association of Legal Nurse Consultants (AALNC). Needless to say, individuals who are certified will definitely have a competitive advantage over those who are not.
Step 1: Educational Requirements
To become a legal nurse consultant, the following educational requirements must be met:
Hold an Associate's Degree in Nursing (ADN) or a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) from an accredited college or university
Pass the NCLEX-RN exam
Hold an active and unrestricted RN license
Do Legal Nurse Consultants Need an RN Degree?
Yes, legal nurse consultants at the very least should hold active and unrestricted RN licenses along with a BSN degree or higher. In some cases, LNCs will hold law degrees (J.D.) as well.
Have at least five years of experience as a practicing RN
Provide evidence of having at least 2,000 hours of legal nurse consulting experience in the previous five years
*Certifications are valid for five years
Legal Nurse Consultant Jobs, Salary & Employment
Legal nurse consultants have a unique knowledge set which makes them highly desirable to a wide range of employers in both the legal and medical fields. LNCs and other professionals who bridge the gap between these two areas have an extra advantage over those who have a more limited knowledge base.
Job Description & Information
Essential Skills Needed - Top tier communication skills, the ability to break down complex ideas into simple and easy to understand language, a vast knowledge base of the legal aspects of the medical industry, ability to work well with interdisciplinary teams, critical thinking skills, organizational skills
Job Outlook - According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of available jobs for attorneys is expected to grow by about 8 percent through the year 2026, while nursing jobs are expected to grow by 15 percent. Because there are very few individuals with the combined expertise of LNCs, the job outlook for those in this profession is quite favorable.
What Is the Average Salary of a Legal Nurse Consultant?
According to PayScale, the average annual salary of a legal nurse consultant is approximately $78,000. In addition to their yearly base salaries, LNCs can expect to receive a range of employee benefits which traditionally include things like medical insurance, retirement plans, life insurance options, and an allotment of annual paid time-off/sick leave. The salaries and benefits that LNCs receive from their employers will vary from employer to employer and depend on factors like location, experience level, what certifications and/or credentials they hold, and education level.
How Much Do Legal Nurse Consultants Make per Year?
$53,000 – $99,000 annually
How Much Do Legal Nurse Consultants Make per Hour?