“My husband and I are going to Hawaii next week. I don’t have to check with anyone. As a nurse, I never could have achieved that feeling of independence and freedom.”
How I Achieved Big City Success in a Small Town as a Certified Legal Nurse Consultant*
by Danita F. Deaton, RN, BA, CLNC
*Results are atypical and may vary from person to person.
Most people think of my small town in Texas as just a blip on the map as they drive through to the Louisiana casinos. But I chose to settle here. Born in Sulphur, Louisiana, I grew up in Alaska, where I was a CPA for ten years, got my nursing degree in Denver and then moved to Southeast Texas.
I went directly into adult intensive care. I’ve worked numerous areas of nursing, including ER and management. I was director of nursing in a long term, extended care unit and I’ve done a lot of quality assurance, so I have a broad background in nursing and administration.
As nurses, we’re here to do a job, and I think we should do it well, but the medical field has a lot of problems. I’m a patient advocate, and I knew there had to be a better way to help. I had seen information about the Institute’s CLNC® Certification Seminar, and I had looked up Vickie Milazzo Institute on the Internet. I began thinking legal nurse consulting might be the road I was searching for. I contacted the Institute and received a packet, but I didn’t follow through. I’m a world-class procrastinator.
Then I took a position as director of a neonatal intensive care unit. Because of my critical care background, my employer also talked me into being director of the telemetry department. Instead of wearing a pager 24/7, I was basically on call 48/14 in two different units. I finally left this extremely stressful job for PRN work in Houston.
In the meantime, I had remarried. I wanted to spend more time with my husband and my two-year-old grandson. I was dissatisfied with where nursing was going for me. I knew I had more to offer, and I didn’t want to retire with a bad back. So I checked out Amway and Mary Kay and took a learn-at-home course in real estate.
I Decided Enough Was Enough
One day my daughter, who worked at a car wash, met an attorney bringing his Jaguar to be cleaned. She told him, “My mom’s a nurse. She could help you with some cases.”
The next thing I knew, this attorney phoned, asking me to review a couple of nursing home cases. I put in four hours at most on each of those cases. That felt great – I could do this. Yet despite follow-up, that attorney didn’t call me back.
I decided enough was enough. I wasn’t getting any younger, and I didn’t want to work nights anymore. I found that packet from Vickie Milazzo Institute, read it through, decided I was going to do this and signed up for the VIP CLNC Success System.
Vickie Inspired Me to Go for It
At the CLNC Certification Seminar, I felt like a few hundred light bulbs went off in my head. I realized I hadn’t done a fourth of what I could have done to help that attorney on those first two cases, and the money I received was nothing compared to what I could make. This was wonderful.
After the seminar I was so fired up, I decided to follow Vickie’s advice and do something toward my new career every day. I spread out all of the materials from my VIP CLNC
Success System and marked my calendar. I worked out a budget. I hired a CPA and an attorney to incorporate my company. Both my CPA and my attorney gave me some referrals. I wrote the names in my I Am a Successful CLNC Success Journal. Three weeks after receiving my CLNC Certification, I was in business.
I kept looking at that Success Journal, at the quotes on each page. I knew I was going to do this, but besides being a procrastinator, I’m also a perfectionist. I didn’t want to call those referrals until I had everything perfect. Finally, my attorney phoned and said, “Danita, you haven’t called this guy yet. I told him to expect your call. He’s waiting.”
The CLNC® Mentors Guided Me to Success
The next day I phoned that attorney, met with him and took home a case. At first I just stared at the file. I didn’t even have my intro letter written, yet I had a case. Easy to say I could do it, easy to fake it while I was in the attorney’s office, but now I had to deliver on my promise. I remembered those two early cases and never hearing back from the attorney. I couldn’t let that happen again.
This time I had Vickie’s VIP CLNC Success System materials and unlimited CLNC Mentoring. I called the Institute and described the case. The CLNC Mentor said, “First, take a few deep breaths.” After talking with her and with the attorney again, I wrote a 30-page report advising the attorney that the case was meritorious.
Meanwhile, I wrote my intro letter. Again, I called the Institute for help, and I put together a simple package with my resume, sample reports and a bulleted list of ten CLNC services. A month after attending the CLNC Certification Seminar, I mailed out my first six marketing packets.
The next week I was ready to send out six more packets, as Vickie encouraged us to do. Before I could leave to go to the post office, a paralegal from one of the big malpractice firms called. Two of their attorneys wanted to see me. I didn’t want to say I was available anytime, and I was still working two nights a week, so I scheduled the interview on a day when I wouldn’t be trying to sleep.
I walked into my interview wearing my nice black suit. Both attorneys had my packet on the table in front of them. When I asked why they called me, one attorney said, “We were impressed with your marketing package. It was very professional, with no grammatical errors, no misspellings.” My package showed I had taken the time to do it right.
Vickie Helped Me Anticipate Every Question
In my briefcase I had the list of questions and answers Vickie had told us to expect in interviews. The attorneys’ questions matched that list almost verbatim.
One of their biggest questions concerned my rates. When I said I charged $125 an hour, the first attorney said, “That’s kind of high, don’t you think?” I kept quiet, almost sitting on my hands, as Vickie advised.
After a few seconds, he said, “Tell me why I should pay you $125 an hour.”
“Because I’m good at what I do,” I said. When he asked what was the difference between me and a paralegal, I said, “Being a paralegal would be a step backward. I have an expertise, paralegals have an expertise and you have an expertise. I’m not an attorney, and you’re not a nurse. That’s why we can work together.”
When we finished the interview, one attorney asked if I wanted to work for them full time. I said no, I could do more for them independently. He said he didn’t have the case files but would get back to me in a few days.
I shook his hand, gave him another card and said, “I’ll phone you in about ten days to see how things are going. In the meantime, if you have any more questions at all, please call me.”
As I started to leave, his partner said, “I do have a few more questions. Do you have time?” Not wanting to look desperate, I checked my watch, then agreed I had half an hour.
But I left without a case in hand. My heart fell to the floor. On the way home, I chalked it up to experience, but I kept telling myself, “It’ll work, it’ll work.” Three days later, the firm’s paralegal called to say they had four cases waiting for me to pick up.
I Was Instantly So Busy, I Didn’t Know Where to Start
I arrived at their offices to find four boxes and a $3,000 retainer check. My heart rate was about 250. I actually had cases to work – and a check.
Before I could get out the door with the boxes, one attorney asked to see me about another case. In addition to my other CLNC services, he needed an expert witness. I told him my fee for finding an expert, then remembered a friend who would be perfect. I gave him that name for free. He offered to pay, but I said, “No, this one’s on me. You can pay for the next one.”
Once again, I called the Institute. The CLNC Mentor told me to pace myself, which I did. I finished the cases, and the attorneys were thrilled with my work.
Then I heard nothing for a couple of days, which felt like months. Then another attorney called with a “simple nursing home case” for me to review. I picked it up, spent a couple of hours reviewing it and called to tell him the case had merit. He asked me to put that in a memo.
This time I got out my CLNC Certification course materials. Vickie has included everything I need. I used the memo form, typed up the memo and sent it off.
I Received 24 Cases from One Attorney All at Once
I was so busy with cases in November that my husband agreed I should do the legal nurse consulting full time and stop working at the hospital. Come December, all the cases were finished and no calls were coming in. In a major panic, I called the Institute. My CLNC Mentor told me most attorneys don’t do a lot during the holidays. That made sense. I decided not to worry. My husband and I went to California to see his family for Christmas. When we returned, I made my New Year’s resolution to continue marketing, no matter what.
The first week of January, I received a call from the attorney who had hired me for those first two cases three years earlier. When I told him my new rates, he said, “That’s kind of steep.” Again, I sat on my hands. Finally, he said, “All right, I have a list of cases I want you to review.”
I expected five or six cases at most. He gave me 24.
Vickie is so right when she says, “We are nurses and we can do anything!®” We can. We always sell ourselves short, but whatever we set our minds to, we can do. All I did was follow Vickie’s advice, use her materials and ask to speak to a CLNC Mentor whenever I panicked.
My husband and I are going to Hawaii next week. I don’t have to check with anyone. As a nurse, I never could have achieved that feeling of independence and freedom.
In six months I’ve worked 36 legal nurse consulting cases. I’m on a roll now, and my next CLNC goal is to make a six-figure income. With everything I’ve learned from Vickie, I know I can do it.
Click here for success story ideas.