Legal Nurse Consulting
Legal nurse consultants work with lawyers on health-care cases, including medical malpractice, personal injury, worker's compensation and product liability. They may be responsible for reviewing documents, formulating trial strategies, conducting research and summarizing technical information. In addition to serving in a consulting role, legal nurse consultants also serve as expert witnesses, testifying at trials, depositions, hearings and arbitrations and preparing expert witness reports for use at trial. About 50% of all legal nurse consultants are employed in law firms, insurance companies and other private institutions, while the other half work as independent consultants.
Most nurse legal consultants are registered nurses who have obtained a two-year or four-year degree and have met their state's licensing requirements. Before working on cases, nurse legal consultants should have enough practical experience in nursing that will allow them to make informed evaluations. There is no specific legal training required to work as a nurse consultant, but persons new to the industry may find it useful to enroll in a paralegal training program. Recent nursing school graduates are generally not qualified to work as consultants.
Legal nurse consultants must take yearly continuing-education courses to stay up-to-date, as well as legal standards for medical professionals. The American Legal Nurse Consultant Certification Board offers a voluntary certification program. (NOTE: This program is not a formal prerequisite for working as a nurse legal consultant.)
Legal nurse consultants employed by law firms earn slightly less than their independent counterparts, with billing rates averaging between $60–$100 per hour and annual income averaging $50,000-$75,000. Independent consultants bill at rates ranging from $65-$200 per hour, depending on the task and nursing specialty. Legal nurse consultants also charges premium fees for serving as an expert witness. Typical rates range from $150 to $200 per hour for deposition and trial testimony.
American Legal Nurse Consultant Certification Board, 2009
American Nurse Credentialing Center, 2009
National Alliance of Legal Nurse Consultants, 2009