Legal Nurse Consultant

What Is a Legal Nurse Consultant?

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:

  • Government agencies
  • Hospitals
  • Law firms (personal injury, product liability, medical malpractice)
  • Insurance companies
  • Health maintenance organizations (HMOs)
  • Consulting firms
  • Self-employed independent practices
  • Patient safety organizations (PSOs)
  • Clinics
  • 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.

Step 2: Required Legal Nurse Consultant Certifications/Credentials

The Legal Nurse Consultant Certification (LNCC) can be acquired through the American Association of Legal Nurse Consultants (AALNC) and American Legal Nurse Consultant Certification Board (ALNCCB). It's the only certification of its kind that's accredited by the American Board of Nursing Specialties. To be eligible for the certification you'll need to have fulfilled the following requirements prior to submitting your application:

  • Hold an active and unencumbered RN license
  • 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?

  • $52.40 average hourly wage

Legal Nurse Consultant Resources