Legal nurse consulting is a relationship business, so I asked the CLNC Pros to describe their favorite attorney-clients. Each one is different, but pay attention to some of the common themes throughout. Developing satisfying relationships with our attorney-clients is one thing Certified Legal Nurse Consultants love about owning their CLNC businesses.
My favorite attorney-client also happens to be my first attorney-client. He is one of the top nursing home defense trial lawyers in the nation. During conversation I can always see his mind working; formulating strategies and trial themes. He always takes the time to listen and learn more about my long-term care nursing experience, bounce ideas around or simply chat about life. He consistently treats me with respect and he supports my CLNC consulting practice by sending me cases and referring other attorneys to me.
Approximately one year ago, he hired me as a testifying expert on a nursing home elder abuse case. The case involved an 87-year-old gentleman with multiple medical conditions who was admitted to a skilled nursing home for “failure to thrive.” Although he was at risk for falls, after rehabilitation services were completed, over the next year and half he had gained weight, ambulated independently with the use of a cane, enjoyed an active social life, making the facility his “home.” Unfortunately, he did fall, sustain a hip fracture, underwent an ORIF, was diagnosed with a cerebral hematoma requiring burr holes to relieve pressure and eventually passed away.
During the deposition, as I handed my CV to the opposing counsel, my attorney-client recommended to the opposing attorney, “You should keep that…it will come in handy later.” I paused, and briefly looked at him. My mind started wandering, “Gee…this attorney is marketing for me…I can’t believe it!” Well…the trial went forward and we received a defense verdict. The jury did not find abuse. Approximately 6 months from the time my deposition had been taken, that same plaintiff’s attorney called me and ask me to consult on a new case. I gladly accepted!
Vickie teaches that when you are giving a deposition to always view the opposing counsel as a potential client. Vickie is definitely on point!
Suzanne E. Arragg, RN, BSN, CDONA/LTC, CLNC
My favorite attorney-client is a new client. He is a junior partner in a large defense firm and the first case he hired me for contained 8,000 pages of records. After completing my review, I explained to the attorney that he needed to speak with one of the plaintiff’s treating physicians and I assured him that this treating physician’s opinion and testimony would actually be favorable to the defense position.
After securing the meeting, it was an hour and a half drive together to meet with this treating physician. I was on pins and needles, yet confident I was correct in my interpretation and evaluation of this case. But what if I was wrong? The meeting went smoothly. I immediately developed a rapport with the treating physician. On the return trip from the meeting, my new client called his senior attorney and said eight magical words regarding our meeting with the physician, “He said everything Laura said he would say.” I was elated and very relieved!
Since that day my new attorney-client who I’ve been with now for six months won’t meet with a healthcare professional without me.
Laura M. Averette, RN, MSN, CPHRM, CLNC,
My favorite attorney-client is the one from whom I get the most work! However, that is not the only reason he is my favorite. He has a great sense of humor and communication with him is easy. He has two assistants and I have an equally easy time with both of them. There is continuous banter and chatter back and forth between all four of us, and it makes the working relationship lots of fun. The attorney is bright, insightful, positive and he appreciates all that I do for him. He listens to me and my opinions and is genuinely interested in what I have to say. He comes to the table with no preconceived notions. He is open minded and easy to work with.
Most of my cases with this attorney are short, quick and pretty routine. There was one instance where I discovered medical malpractice on top of the personal injury. He was very receptive to my delving deeper into the case and preparing a much more comprehensive report. He told me repeatedly that he would not have been able to do this without me and in fact, would not have even been aware that anything was out of the ordinary.
He frequently refers me to other attorneys and I never have to wonder or guess about how he feels about my work.
Dale Barnes, RN, MSN, PHN, CLNC
My favorite attorney is my first attorney-client. Knowing that my CLNC expertise on my first case helped this attorney win the case gave me the same awesome feeling as nailing a patient’s diagnosis as a nurse practitioner. He didn’t, however, become my favorite attorney-client until recently when we met on opposite sides of a case.
I went up to this attorney and said, “Good morning, sir and how are you doing today?” The attorney replied, “I was doing fine until now when I see you are on the opposing side.” I was flattered and said, “Why thank you, sir. I will take that as a compliment.” He replied, “It was meant as one.”
My attorney-client for this case wanted to know what the other attorney said and I told him. My attorney-client wanted to know if I thought my presence was unnerving for the other attorney and I replied, “Yes.” He replied, “Good.”
After the case was completed (in my attorney-client’s favor), I went up to the other attorney to shake his hand. He remarked that he had noticed my work in the case and that, “as usual” I had done a good job. I wished him well and we parted.
Later, at the dinner table, I told my family what had happened. My son asked me if I had apologized to the attorney for winning the case against him. I replied that I was not going to apologize for doing my work well. My son said that I would probably never consult for that first attorney again.
A few months later, the first attorney called me wanting to consult with me on a case. I replied that I would be happy to consult with him. He said that he wanted to get to me before an opposing attorney consulted with me. I was flattered and said to the attorney, “Why thank you, sir. I will take that as a compliment.” The attorney replied, “It was meant as one.”
Connie S. Chappelle, RN, MN, CLNC
My favorite attorney-client is a sole practitioner who specializes in probate and family law. Since I have been consulting with her she has taken on more personal injury and medical malpractice cases.
Her office is not too far from me and we have been working together for a couple of years, but I still haven’t met her in person. As Vickie teaches, with FedEx, email, fax and snail mail, Certified Legal Nurse Consultants do not have to be near their attorney-clients to successfully consult with them.
With each case, my attorney-client continues to appreciate my help and tells me how much I teach her along the way. I enjoy working closely with her on her cases and I like knowing that I am helping a family, a child, a mother, a father or whoever has been wronged get the help they need. When someone needs care for the rest of their life, it is nice to know that I had a part in getting them what they need and that they are taken care of. It is rewarding to know that I make a difference in both the client’s life and the attorney’s life. She takes every case on as if the client is her friend. She fights for them to the end. I enjoy being right by her every step of the way. She allows me to be involved in everything so I use all of my skills I have learned over the years. This is the relationship we have built over the last couple of years and it means a lot to the both of us.
Nikki J. Chuml, RNC, CCE, FMC, CLNC
My favorite attorney-client was my first attorney-client, who took a chance on me by giving me my first case. Upon the attorney receiving my written work product on the first case, he then immediately handed me case #2 and case #3. When presenting the case details to that attorney on cases 2 & 3, he said, “Larry, you should be charging more for work products like these!” This positive feedback grew my confidence in leaps and bounds and inspired me to increase my hourly rate without blinking an eye, and I haven’t blinked since!
After completing the CLNC 6-Day Certification Seminar in September 2000, I immediately knew that I was trained by the best – Vickie Milazzo Institute. However, what really drove that point home was my attorney-client’s simple statement ,”Larry, you should be charging more for work products like these!”
Thank you, Vickie for changing my professional life nine years ago!
Lawrence H. Frace, RN, CLNC
My favorite attorney-client is one that is in my hometown. He has a busy general practice and is in a firm with two other attorneys. One reason he is my favorite is because he has offered to speak to the NACLNC® Private Apprenticeship groups I lead for Vickie Milazzo Institute. We have gone into his office and he does “mock interviews” with each Certified Legal Nurse Consultant. He also reviews a case that he has and asks for opinions and feedback. During this time, the CLNC consultants get a chance to talk with an attorney in an environment that is nonthreatening.
They gain so much knowledge from this experience. The Certified Legal Nurse Consultants get to see our professional relationship and how comfortable we are working together. It shows them that you really can have great life-long relationships with attorney-clients.
Dorene Goldstein, RNC, CLNC
My favorite attorney-client tells me what she wants in a professional and respectful manner. She puts on her game face and is ready to fight for what she believes. She is also caring and kind. I would not want to be against her in the courtroom.
To discuss our first case I met this attorney at a local bakery. She brought the 911 tape, crime scene and autopsy photos. After a little small talk, we got down to business. We looked through the photos, pieced together part of the case and discussed the CLNC services I recommended for this case. The only catch…I needed to do it in five days. Normally, this would not be a problem; however, the next few days were packed. The night before trial, I met the attorney to deliver my work product. I showed her my 80-inch timeline that she requested for trial. She could not believe her eyes and said it was “perfect.” The next day I spoke with her after court. She stated the other attorneys were “impressed” and had carefully looked over the timeline. Since then, she has passed my name along to several other attorneys.
Vanessa R. Heckman, RN, MSN, CNP, CLNC
My favorite attorney-client is a ball of fire. She is passionate about her work and advocates for her clients and all victims of elder abuse. When she involves me in her cases, I am truly an important part of her litigation team.
An MD expert I had previously worked with recommended me. I was brought in at the last minute and needless to say I had to put in long intense hours to write the report and to help develop questions for the defendant nurses and experts. The case settled and she was so happy that my report had helped to settle the case for quite a large settlement. My attorney-client attributed her success to my work product.
Sandra Higelin, RN, MSN, CS, CWCN, CLNC
My favorite attorney-client is a man who has a wonderful reputation as a medical malpractice attorney. For many years in a row, he has been named as a “Super Lawyer.” He is one of the rare heavy-hitters who really does take each client’s case personally, and spends many hours pouring over my reports and research. Over the years I have seen him eat, sleep and breathe his cases to the point where he has to be reminded to take a break. He has the ability to really soak in the medical information.
He is now in the professional position to be able to choose to take the “pick of the crop” medical malpractice cases, but his love for his job and his clients haven’t changed.
I have seen him pick up the phone to call and check on a client who has had surgery or who wasn’t feeling well. He makes his clients feel like they are special, and he’s sincere. When it comes to doing work for him, he’s a dream come true (naturally I had something to do with that!). He isn’t close enough that I can be involved with the initial consultation, so he calls me after meeting with the potential clients to give me my first briefing on the case. He tells me about the case, who the actors are in the case and we discuss the CLNC services I will provide. He gives me what I need to know to rule out conflicts of interest and supplies the statute date. Then he lets me know if he has a budget or if it’s “carte blanche.” I always get my customary retainer delivered with the records. He is very responsive to my opinion, and most appreciative of any work I do for him.
He also has a great sense of humor which makes him even more enjoyable to work with.
Jane A. Hurst, RN, CLNC
My favorite attorney-client is a young corporate attorney in Washington DC who represents a hospital. This attorney had not worked with a Certified Legal Nurse Consultant and was interested in many of my CLNC services. Because my training in the CLNC Certification Program was so thorough, my attention to details of the medical records was equally thorough, a fact he didn’t hesitate to mention frequently. I was grateful for the freedom to work independently, to use my nursing knowledge, my research experience and my ability to write reports. Over the years, we worked on many cases together and won most of them.
Camille Joyner, RN, CCM, CLNC
My favorite attorney-client is an attorney I met when I began working in his law firm as a Certified Legal Nurse Consultant. He had a wonderful welcoming way about him. I think the thing I liked the most was that he valued my opinion and professional experience.
This attorney-client had been practicing for many years and had won many large verdicts. I consulted on a case involving a woman who had a femoral to femoral bypass graft. The surgeon actually placed the graft material into her abdominal cavity. This went unrecognized by the attending doctor and multiple radiologists addressed the anatomy and the proper placement of the femoral graft. He listened so intently and acted as if he understood completely what I was explaining. When I was done he looked at me and said, “Well, I am so glad that you could actually do this surgery and perhaps do it better than this surgeon himself. I will certainly include you when we are preparing for trial to capture some photos and show the anatomy to explain the procedure step by step.”
I was thrilled. This was one of my first cases at his firm and I felt like I had hit a homerun.
Mildred Mannion, RN, BSN, CNOR, CLNC
My favorite attorney-client practices in a prestigious personal injury and medical malpractice law firm. As a plaintiff attorney and a partner in the firm, he has won many awards, and is highly recommended by other attorneys. He is extremely detail oriented, very practical and never hesitates to reach out to me even when it is something simple that he wants to run by me or to get my opinion about. I value his years of experience and professional advice, and he has fostered my personal growth as a Certified Legal Nurse Consultant.
For someone with his experience and status he is never intimidating or boastful. He truly has a passion for practicing law and working with people and that shines through when working with him. He treats me respectfully, professionally and he values my opinion and work product. He is always open to learning and enjoys my educating him about the pieces of the medical puzzle as they apply to the cases. He has referred me to several new attorney-clients. When I am working with other attorney-clients in his office, he always stops in to say hello.
One afternoon I got a call from him after he had left court on a motion in a case on which I had been consulting. He called to tell me a humorous story that he got a “kick out of” during the motion and asked if I had a minute so he could share it with me. I was so touched that he thought of me and wanted to keep me in the loop with a good laugh!
Julie Somen-Becker, RN, BSN, CLNC
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