Although I loved working as a registered nurse, becoming the proud owner of two pretty blue titanium rods in my back made 12-hour shifts tough to manage. Being on call 24/7 was no longer possible. I tried it for four months before admitting I had to make a change.
Being a typical class nerd while earning my bachelor’s degree, a master’s in business and finally becoming an RN, I was used to doing research. In fact, I love research. So when I discovered legal nurse consulting and Vickie Milazzo Institute, I was immediately invested in becoming a Certified Legal Nurse Consultant.
The thing that kicked off my CLNC business was exhibiting at state bar associations. I immediately signed up for four association meetings and was determined to do it right, to have such a professional booth that no one would question whether I’d ever done this before.
Because I’m great at organizing, I checked out all the programs planned for each conference and signed up to participate in every scavenger hunt or door prize drawing. Any opportunity to have attorneys approach me for whatever sticker or stamp they needed would give me the face-to-face interaction I was seeking.
At the Ohio State Bar Association annual meeting, my booth looked professional, and I learned right away to say, “May I trade this sticker for your business card?” Being away from their offices, the attorneys were open to having a conversation. Perfect for me, because having a conversation was exactly what it took to get their attention long enough to explain what I do as a Certified Legal Nurse Consultant.
One attorney who came to me at the event said, “I have a friend who’s working on a case, and we need an ophthalmology surgeon.” “I can take care of that for you,” I said, having learned from Vickie that the answer is always yes! “Are you sure you can find one?” he asked. “Absolutely.”
The attorney came back to me and brought his friend. Together, they explained the case. “I’ve already been texting my surgeon,” I said, “to see if he’d be interested in looking at your case.” That was true – the surgeon happened to be my brother-in-law – but I had reached out to see if he’d be interested and what he would charge. Within four days I located a testifying expert for this attorney-client, and I’ve received several more cases from him.
Being receptive, positive and responding quickly paid off again at the Kentucky State Bar annual meeting. An attorney-prospect approached me to review a case. This morning he sent a text saying he needs my help on three more cases.
A short while after the Kentucky event, I exhibited at the Indiana Solo and Small Firm annual meeting, and I’m scheduled soon for the Michigan meeting. Clearly, exhibiting is growing my CLNC business. Despite being naturally shy, once I’m face-to-face and doing my job, I get over it. I love talking to people almost as much as I love doing research.
At first the cases trickled in. Now they’re coming in so fast that last week I hired an office assistant.
What I Learned from Vickie Milazzo Made This Big Change Possible
I still don’t have full sensation in my feet. That takes a long time, a three-year process, and I’m getting there. Fortunately, as a Certified Legal Nurse Consultant, I can choose my hours.
Being a CLNC consultant pulls together everything I ever learned and everything I’ve experienced as a nurse. It’s a unique mix and I love it. Everytime I take on a case I have another opportunity to look at new standards and new information about what’s going on in that specialty – a chance to learn more. But what I like best, even more than the research, is the independence I have.
I live on farm land in Covington, Ohio, about an hour from Dayton. My husband installs flooring as an independent contractor, and we lease a big tract of our land to an Amish farmer. When we bought the property, it included a cinder-block structure, which we converted to a house for my in-laws when they were still alive. Now it has become my office.
To get to my office, I just walk across the driveway. Anytime I need a break, I can simply walk outside to enjoy the day. I grab a cup of coffee, a cup of sweet feed and some treats for the chickens, then spend half an hour with our two llamas, getting kisses from Dalai the Llama for a handful of feed. Then I step back into my office, light a candle – unscented, so as not to offend any visitors – change the water on the fresh-cut flowers from the garden and I’m ready to dig into the next case.
I love what I’m doing. At a class reunion recently, a couple of my friends came to me and asked how my business was going. I gave a quick update and they were excited for me. One of them said, “Annette, you’ve figured out what you want to do with your life. You have that glow.” “You mean it shows?” I said. “Oh, my gosh, it shows! You’ve found your thing. This is what you’re supposed to be doing.” Yes, I already knew it, but getting that verification felt incredible.
Annette Powers-Kilburn, RN, MAOM, CLNC owns Powers-Kilburn & Associates, LLC. She specializes in custody disputes, medical malpractice, personal injury and insurance cases for both plaintiff and defense. She also provides research services for attorneys.
P.S. Comment here to congratulate Annette on her CLNC success.