While we’re not supposed to have favorites, when it comes to attorney-clients, many of us do. I asked the CLNC® Pros to share their favorite attorney-client(s) and what they do to nurture these important professional relationships.
“Vickie, funny you should inquire about my favorite attorney-client, because one of them asked me the very same question. I smiled and responded, ‘All my attorney-clients are my favorite! ’ He chuckled and responded, ‘Wisely stated!’ The attorney-clients who consistently include me in all stages of litigation are my favorite because they drive my CLNC business forward and keep me on my A game.
Successful interface with attorney-clients also means successful relationships with the gatekeeper, support staff, paralegals and associate attorneys. I consistently and professionally maintain open lines of communication. If I feel communication is waning, there is nothing like a phone call. In today’s world of text, email, twitter, emoticons, etc., the old fashioned phone call promotes a long-lasting relationship.”
– Suzanne Arragg, RN, BSN, CDONA/LTC, CLNC
“It is difficult to pick a favorite attorney-client, because I enjoy them all, though in different ways. If I had to pick one, I would say it is a defense attorney for a large law firm. He is my favorite because he always shows his appreciation for what I do and he refers me to colleagues both inside and outside of his firm.
I keep my attorney-clients happy by consistently completing my work on time and by keeping the lines of communication open. Because of the rapport we have developed, he always returns my calls and emails timely. I make suggestions regarding the medical aspects of the legal nurse consultant job and the best format for the report. In addition, I never miss sending a holiday gift and a card on his birthday.”
– Dale Barnes, RN, MSN, PHN, CLNC
“My favorite attorney-client is the only attorney in his office and he handles all types of cases. He not only appreciates my input, he also invites the attendees of Vickie Milazzo Institute’s NACLNC® Private Apprenticeship that I conduct to his office and frequently has them review a case. This attorney values the CLNC consultant’s role and frequently expresses that he couldn’t be as successful as he is without the analysis of the nursing and medical issues provided by Certified Legal Nurse Consultants.
The first case I consulted on involved the competency of his client’s father at the time he signed a deed over to his new wife. When I evaluated the medical records I noticed that even though the attorney had requested a certified copy of the records from the hospital, he was missing the medication record, which was the key to the case. Once obtained, I noticed that the client’s father was not competent to sign papers as he was on a morphine drip and was dying of mesothelioma. After helping him with that matter, he realized just how valuable I was.
One day while in his office he gave me the best compliment ever. He looked at me and said, ‘You’re such a nurse!’ And I responded, ‘And that’s exactly why you need me.’ Thank you Vickie for that one.”
– Dorene Goldstein, RN, BSN, CLNC
“I have worked with my favorite attorney-client for more than ten years and have only seen him face-to-face one time. He is the most dedicated attorney I have ever known, and he truly cares about each one of his clients. He is a self-admitted perfectionist, is very direct (but fair) and he loves challenging me. That’s the reason he is my favorite. Working with him has taught me how to be prepared. Not only with my favorite attorney-client, but with any attorney. I am on my toes and prepared for anything!
When interfacing with my favorite attorny-client, attention to detail is extremely important. My secret to working efficiently and effectively with him is to not only provide accuracy, but to also think two steps ahead of him. I have worked with him long enough to be able to anticipate the types of things he may ask or request. Prior to discussing a case, I am prepared for anything he needs.”
– Jane Hurst, RN, CLNC
“My favorite attorney-client is a business and real estate attorney I met at a legal conference. He had never worked on a personal injury (PI) case in his 19 years of practicing law. Shortly after the conference, he contacted me regarding a significant PI case that he was partnering on with another attorney. My attorney-client presented the defense with my report during mediation, and the case settled for an undisclosed sum.
Since then, I have worked with him on four additional PI cases that have all settled, and I am currently working on a new one. He is one of my largest supporters and his referrals to other attorneys have been a pivotal influence in the success of my CLNC business. He openly praises my written reports and credits them for his 100% success rate with PI cases.
Working face-to-face with this attorney was the key to establishing our professional relationship. I visited his law firm and dropped off homemade jalapeno cheese bread every time I marketed in his area. While communication and follow-up have been key to my success with all of my attorney-clients, honest and open feedback on each legal nurse consultant job is the most important aspect of our professional relationship. My willingness to openly admit and voice my limited knowledge in some areas of a case has proven effective in expanding my knowledge and experience and has increased his level of trust in me and my work.”
– Robert Malaer, RN, MSN, CLCP, CALM, CLNC
“I have several attorney-clients that I would consider to be favorites. First, the attorney who gave me my first case and 11 more cases after that. He also referred me to four other attorneys within his firm. Second, the attorney who respected my opinion regarding a case I recommended he not pursue. He valued my opinion and has sent more cases to me since then. Third, the attorney that makes sure I’m paid in advance and has taken the time to fly to Colorado to meet with me and discuss the specifics of a case.
It’s important to be flexible when communicating with attorneys. I have found that everyone has their own comfort level regarding how they communicate. It is important to be accommodating and meet the needs of each specific attorney-client. Some prefer only email, while others do not want any email and request phone conversations or face to face meetings. I even had an attorney-client use snail mail for every communication we had. This may take you out of you comfort zone, but you’ll be steps ahead if you ask on your first encounter, ‘How would you like for me to communicate with you regarding this case?’ ”
– Rebecca Jones, MSN, CNM, CLNC
“My favorite attorney-client is any attorney who works for my client-facility, as I consult on appeals related to denial of claims. I always present relevant research to the attorney to support the position of the healthcare facility involved. That attorney may need this information during a future hearing.
The lists of strengths and weaknesses of the case (a technique we learned in Vickie Milazzo Institute’s CLNC Certification Program) is something I incorporated ten years ago into a form I devised called Case Facts and Observations. Demographic information heads the top. Under that are the gists of each successive claims denial, the denial dates and the dates set for appeal to the next level. This data gives the attorney a fair idea of the various contractors’ opinions at each level of appeal and often indicates the level of experience of those contractors’ reviewers.
The snapshots of the case are what I use to draft the appeal to the next level, appealing each denial sentence by sentence, particularly if it fails to support application and use of the CMS regulations being quoted in the denial (happens frequently and attorneys seem to love it). Then I quote the applicable regulations and footnote them in my report. This is the kind of information I provide to the attorney when the appeal escalates to an administrative law judge (ALJ) hearing. Attorneys appreciate evidence of quality training that comes with a Vickie Milazzo Institute prepared Certified Legal Nurse Consultant. It makes their work easier.
One of the best ways to nurture the business relationship with attorneys in my line of work is to provide excellent work. An example is to give them as much lead time as possible when notifying them that a hearing has been scheduled by the administrative law judge and that their participation will be needed. Medicare administrative law judges are booked ahead for years and only rarely allow a hearing to be rescheduled. We operate on their clock. Providing the attorney with all supporting documents within the first day of the hearing notification generates a lot of good will.
ALJ teams, who are scattered across the country and conduct these hearings telephonically, seem to love it too because they timely receive all the documents required from the medical facility to proceed with the hearing. Some of the ALJ team members are also attorneys. The nicer you treat them, the happier their boss, who is the ALJ who hears the case. This may or may not result in a favorable hearing decision, but it never hurts. In addition, our representing attorney as well as the ALJ team are given the list of participants and observers. The ALJ team receives CVs of the experts who will testify and if our representing attorney or one of the expert witnesses is new, I give the attorney a copy of the applicable CV, so he knows his witness a bit better.”
– Camille Joyner, RN, BSN, CCM, CLNC
Thanks to all the CLNC Pros for sharing how they nurture the professional relationships with their favorite attorney-clients.
Success Is Yours!
P.S. Comment and share how you nurture the professional relationships with your favorite attorney-clients.