Five Certified Legal Nurse Consultants share their most effective attorney-interview strategies. These CLNC® Pros remind us that RNs are more than qualified to interview successfully with attorneys. All you have to do is follow their sage advice.
- Connect with the attorney’s assistants in a warm and cordial manner. The bigger your fan club inside the law firm, the more likely you’re going home with a case.
- Arrive for the attorney interview confident and prepared. Concisely and factually explain why you are the legal nurse consultant best suited to meet the attorney’s needs. Show the quality of work that you provide to attorney-clients.
- Don’t fidget during the attorney interview. Smile and look the attorney directly in the eyes when speaking.
- Engage the attorney with leading questions: For example, “What part of the legal process do you find the most taxing?” Leading questions engage the attorney and give you insight into the attorney’s focus and concerns as a litigator.
Camille H. Joyner, RN, CCM, CLNC
- Listen carefully so you can summarize the attorney’s issues, needs and problem areas. For example, “What I heard you say is that you have a highly successful legal practice, that you are overwhelmed with medical records and don’t know where to begin, and that you’d like all of the data to be organized in an easy-to-absorb report format.”
- Collaborate with the attorney. Mutually plan and agree to goals, the actions you will take and the work product deadlines. For example, a plaintiff attorney presents you with a case involving possible injury sustained in a rehabilitation facility. You both agree that your initial goal is to asses the medical records to determine if: 1) the data submitted is adequate to establish there is no case, 2) the data submitted is adequate to establish there is a case, or 3) the data submitted is insufficient to establish if there is a case.
Carolyn J. Bilodeau, RN, BSN, MS, CLNC
- Be honest about what you don’t know. RNs have a wide array of knowledge and some of us have been around since patients were opened up to remove their gallbladders. This being said, we don’t know everything. If you don’t know about a certain procedure or are unfamiliar with a disease process, just say so, and explain how you will subcontract with another Certified Legal Nurse Consultant who does. It is better than getting caught with your scrubs down.
- Provide a free case screening or free work product. Everyone likes getting stuff for free and attorneys are no different. Offer a few free hours to get your foot in the door. You will make it up on the second or third case.
- Be yourself! I find most new Certified Legal Nurse Consultants think this is the hardest of all, but this should be easy. Be confident, up front and charming.
Millie Mannion, RN, CLNC
- Rehearse and rehearse some more. Even after six years of owning my CLNC business I still get a little nervous before interviewing with certain attorneys, especially if it is a referral or an attorney from a large, prestigious firm. Before dialing the phone or walking into the attorney’s office, I rehearse, clear my mind and take a good look in the mirror reminding myself that I have what the attorney needs.
- Act professionally even when working from home. Working my CLNC business from home has so many benefits. As the mother of a young child, the flexibility is truly liberating! But, even the most carefully constructed plan to keep your child occupied while taking a quick call from an attorney can backfire. Don’t get caught in the situation of the “mommy-scream-and-number- two assist” as I did. Lucky for me, the attorney found great humor in the moment. Since then I always remove myself from motherhood and schedule quiet time to devote all my attention to my attorney-clients’ needs.
- Cut yourself some slack. We have all been in that attorney-prospect interview where we squirmed in our seats because we were not knowledgeable about the case they were discussing. This is the perfect time to stay confident. Simply inform the attorney that you have at your fingertips all the resources (your CLNC subcontractors) to get exactly what he needs. This can actually be a win-win situation for all involved.
Julie Somen-Becker, RN, BSN, CLNC
- Emphasize your nursing knowledge and clinical skills. If asked the dreaded question “How many cases have you consulted on” and your answer is zero, say so and add that you will be putting your x number of years of nursing experience behind your opinions. Attorneys pay you for your nursing knowledge and professional opinions. This exact question was asked of me prior to obtaining my first case and my answer above worked beautifully. I left that interview with chart and check in hand!
- State your fee with confidence. Charge what you are worth and not a penny less. Practice stating your fee in front of a mirror until doing so feels natural. After my first attorney-client told me that my reports were worth more than I was charging, I had no trouble increasing my fees and stating my increased fees with even more confidence. Remember, attorneys are purchasing your nursing knowledge and not the number of cases you have consulted on.
- Ask for the case before you leave the attorney’s office. If you do not get it, offer to provide a presentation on a subject area that you know the law firm will be interested in. That will be your opportunity to shine again in front of several attorneys from the law firm.
Lawrence H. Frace, RN, CLNC
Employ these 15 proven attorney-interview strategies for Certified Legal Nurse Consultants to be confident and competent in communicating your expertise in all future attorney interviews.
I’m Just Sayin’
P.S. Comment and share the strategies you use as a Certified Legal Nurse Consultant in attorney interviews.