A $1,000,000 Legal Nurse Consulting Business Is Attainable. Go for It – I Did*
by Suzanne Arragg, RN, BSN, CDONA/LTC, CLNC
I have been a registered nurse since 1985, but seven years ago my path began a slow and steady 180-degree turn. I’d been the director of nursing services in a skilled nursing facility (SNF) for just under a year, when my dad spotted a classified ad in our local newspaper. A defense law firm was seeking a legal nurse consultant. I learned that this firm was legal counsel for three of the top five long term care corporations in the country. My initial response was, “I don’t have that kind of training.”
Vickie walks the walk. She’s an inspiration, not only as a nurse who pioneered a new industry but also as a keen-minded, successful businesswoman who openly shares her secrets.
My director position included being on call 24 hours per day, 7 days a week. Besides this grueling job, I was going through a nasty divorce and had primary custody of my three children, ages 4, 6 and 8, with no child support. To top it off, I found out I needed a hysterectomy for a pre-cancerous condition. I was depressed, sleep-deprived, stressed, short-tempered, financially upside-down and in debt. A financial advisor told me there was no way I could retire, even with Social Security. I felt like I was on a sinking ship.
Three weeks after my dad showed me the ad, I submitted my resume. I figured I had nothing to lose, and it’s always good to keep my interviewing skills fresh. My SNF colleagues saw the same ad and submitted their resumes, too.
My Persistence Landed Me My First Assignment
I knew consistent follow-up was a must, once you have submitted a resume. Over the next five weeks, I had many pleasant conversations with the chief partner’s legal secretary. I got to know her on a first-name basis, and she told me he was in trial and to keep calling. I also left voice mail messages for the attorney. Finally, he called me.
Obviously, he knew I was persistent, and at the first interview he could tell I presented well and I had the knowledge he needed to litigate his cases. Within a half-hour, we agreed on my hourly rate, which was more than I was then making, and I left with my first long term care case. Needless to say, my colleagues never got a call and were shocked at my success, especially since they had 15 years’ experience on me.
This first case was voluminous – more than 30,000 pages of medical records spanning 20 years. I worked with the chief partner and one of his associates through the entire legal process. My tasks included organizing, reconstructing and analyzing the medical records, defining standards of nursing care, identifying state and federal regulatory deficiencies, identifying appropriate testifying experts, educating the attorney, assisting with trial preparation, and developing and designing demonstrative evidence used in the trial, just to name a few.
This was the most rewarding experience of my whole nursing career. I was intellectually challenged, and there was nothing mundane about the medical-legal process. I was so impacted by this experience I was convinced this was my future and a way to earn enough income to get out of debt. With my parents’ support, I attended Vickie’s CLNC® Certification Seminar and became a Certified Legal Nurse Consultant.
The day I got home from the seminar, I called my attorney-client, who had just received the jury verdict: We had won this landmark case. I was ecstatic and he was absolutely thrilled. He couldn’t thank me enough for educating and assisting him with my nursing expertise. He said he would refer all his cases to me. I thanked him profusely and informed him of my new CLNC status. He became a very high-volume client for me.
My CLNC® Certification Made All the Difference in My Full-Time Success
Vickie’s CLNC Certification Program and Core Curriculum for Legal Nurse Consulting® textbook expanded my limited understanding of the legal nurse consultant’s role. They helped me improve my reports and presentation style, and provided me with the business strategies needed to become an independent business owner, not to mention the tools needed to build a million-dollar business.
Vickie is incredibly motivating. She knows how to speak to a nurse’s heart. Her endless energy emanates through her words. Throughout the CLNC Certification Seminar, I could see she was totally engrossed in what she was teaching. I identified with passion, but I also realized I didn’t exhibit passion like she did. I made a commitment to express my passion as Vickie does and maintain an upbeat and positive attitude in my life and in my business. This attitude encourages my attorney-clients as well. You make a better overall impression by always appearing confident, cheerful and optimistic. This helps keep your clients happy and willing to promote your CLNC services. That’s another thing I learned from Vickie.
My number one rule for securing repeat business is being open to and listening for the attorney’s need in each case I accept. Attorney-specific, case-specific is my motto!
For the next three years, I continued to work as a director of nursing services in another skilled nursing facility and ran my part-time CLNC business from home. Sometimes it was a family affair, with my children working for me. All three of them have filed and scanned medical records. I tried to instill the entrepreneurial spirit and some business savvy as well. During this time, in addition to performing the same services I started with, I added attending mediation conferences, assisting the attorney in preparing MD and nurse testifying experts, and participating in risk management seminars for long term care corporations.
Meeting the Challenges of Growth Brought Me Even Greater Success
While still a part-time CLNC consultant, I was able to buy a home, eliminate financial dependence on my parents and provide for my three children, including enabling them to participate in sports and many other extracurricular activities they couldn’t enjoy previously. During my transition from part time to full time four years ago, my legal nurse consulting revenues were $85,000.
When I reached my goal of quitting the SNF and becoming a full-time Certified Legal Nurse Consultant, I held a wine and cheese open house to celebrate the opening of my new office and to share my success with friends, family and current and potential attorney-clients. About six months after I went full time, I took Vickie’s advice and added my first employee, who’s still with me. I also subcontracted with four CLNC consultants. That year I massively exceeded my goal of grossing $200,000.
Two short years later, my business had expanded by adding more office space, two employees and another CLNC subcontractor. As a result, my firm doubled its revenues.
As the business continued to grow, I refined our services and added more qualified, high-caliber individuals. I now have a 3,200-square-foot office and a total of ten employees – four nurses plus support and administrative staff. Having the in-house expertise of Certified Legal Nurse Consultants who share my vision is truly exciting.
Business keeps rolling in because we deliver a superior work product to our clients. This generates a prompt response from the attorney: Suzanne, this is awesome. We can do big things with this. Last year my firm exceeded $1 million in revenue.
Today I Can Do Things I Only Dreamed of Doing When I Retire
While this kind of financial success is not necessarily the primary goal, it’s exciting that I’ve found my passion, I’m actually fulfilling it and it’s providing me with a stimulating and rewarding lifestyle. My eldest is going to college next year. I’m prepared for that expensive college tuition and I never thought I would be.
Balancing the business and my family is still a challenge. At least financially I have the freedom to spend more time with them, knowing and feeling comfortable that someone’s still running the office, especially if I want to take off in the middle of the week. Today I can do the things I only dreamed of doing when I retire.
I have always had a deep faith in God and commitment to prayer. The Lord has blessed me with the ability to discern what is important in my life and has given me the strength to work hard and learn all I can.
Professionally, I wouldn’t be where I am today without becoming a Certified Legal Nurse Consultant. There’s no other program like Vickie’s. There is simply no competition out there. She and Vickie Milazzo Institute provide all the tools you need to get started. She shows you how to make your CLNC business fun and rewarding, not only financially but in other ways. Being a CLNC consultant represents a high level of professionalism. The National Alliance of Certified Legal Nurse Consultants® embraces networking instead of competition between nurses. I’ve seen this industry grow and I think it will continue to grow. It’s up to CLNC business owners to uplift the nursing profession and maintain that positive attitude, knowing that there’s enough work out there for all of us.
I come to the NACLNC® Conferences for my annual boost. It’s my yearly reminder of the power of nurses and the power of nursing in the community. I also get to see Vickie, take part in some fascinating sessions and network with more than 1,200 nurses.
If I could say one thing to my RN peers, I’d advise them to take their fear and do something with it. Evaluate what you want for your life, embrace the fear and then go for it. The next step is following a marketing plan to make sure the business is growing, new cases are coming in and new prospects are hearing about you. You can never take your current clients for granted. Customer service has to be number one. Every single member of my team knows the importance of that. We’re human; we make little mistakes. But if you’re always there for your attorney-clients, always answering questions, meeting deadlines and following up, those minor human errors will be no biggie.
The CLNC Mentoring Program is absolutely crucial to your growth into a mature CLNC consultant. Vickie and her staff are always there for you. No other program is actually there to lift you up when you’re down, to provide the support that is so necessary to becoming successful.
Vickie Is My Inspiration as a Successful, Savvy Entrepreneur
Vickie walks the walk. She’s an inspiration, not only as a nurse who pioneered a new industry but also as a keen-minded, successful businesswoman who openly shares her secrets. Vickie’s wisdom and her generosity with that wisdom have made me stronger, more passionate and driven to succeed for my family and my personal growth.
Vickie lives her motto, “Revolutionizing Nursing Careers One RN at a Time.” I’m a categorical example of one of those careers she revolutionized, to the tune of a million-dollar business. What stuck with me the most was her statement that you are a nurse and you can do anything. I truly took that motto to heart.
I always remember where I came from and that I started my CLNC business from my bedroom. Rebounding from divorce, depression and financial inadequacy was tough, but I have grown tremendously as a person. Today I’m very appreciative that I don’t have to work in my bedroom anymore. I love my life. I love my career. I spend time with my children. I consistently bring in a comfortable six-figure income and it just keeps getting better.
Thank you, Vickie, for giving me the motivation and education to become a CLNC success.
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