Subcontracting (Part 2): 17 Best Practices for Managing Certified Legal Nurse Consultant Subcontractors

Last week I discussed that the quickest way to grow your legal nurse consulting business is to expand with CLNC® subcontractors. If you’re ready to expand your CLNC business, check out these 17 Best Practices for managing Certified Legal Nurse Consultant subcontractors.

  1. Hire only Certified Legal Nurse Consultant subcontractors. This will save you time and heartache in the long run. Through the National Alliance of Certified Legal Nurse Consultants, you’ll find plenty of qualified CLNC consultants who can help you manage your cases. Working only with other CLNC consultants is the key to sensational subcontracting and the strongest method for building your CLNC business.

Suzanne E. Arragg, RN, BSN, CDONA/LTC, CLNC says, “I am a firm believer in using only CLNC subcontractors. In the beginning, I tried using non-Certified Legal Nurse Consultants because I thought, ‘Gee, she is a good nurse… she knows what she’s doing.’ But the reality was, I ended up reviewing the chart and writing the report all over again because it just wasn’t a product that met my standards or those of my attorney-clients. Needless to say, this was exhausting, double the work, and just wasn’t worth my time, energy or money!”

Dale Barnes, RN, MSN, PHN, CLNC shares, “Many years ago, as a new CLNC consultant, I learned my first lesson about subcontracting. I knew so many RNs and thought I could use them as subcontractors. I found a couple of really good nurses who wanted to learn from working with me. Though I showed them reports I had written and clearly explained what I needed from them for the work product, they still lacked the CLNC training I had received as a Certified Legal Nurse Consultant from LegalNurse.com.

These RNs wrote their reports and gave them back to me. To my great disappointment, I found that I had to rewrite most of what they gave me. Due to their lack of formal training, they were not capable of producing the same level of work product. I wasted a lot of time and energy, and have only used Certified Legal Nurse Consultants since that time.”

  1. Contract with a CLNC subcontractor who has three to five years of experience in the nursing specialty of the case. This assures you’re subcontracting with a true expert on the issues.
  1. Build your CLNC subcontractor network in advance of needing each one. This allows you to respond timely to the attorneys’ deadlines on a variety of cases outside of your specialty.

CLNC consultant, Michelle Neal, RN, BSN, CLNC adds, “Expand your CLNC subcontractor network with Certified Legal Nurse Consultants who have different specialties. Then when a case comes around that isn’t your area of expertise, you can quickly locate the right person to help. Always interview the potential subcontractor thoroughly.”

  1. Hire CLNC subcontractors who live outside your geographical area. This will help to avoid any competitive attitude between you and your CLNC subcontractors. Avoid networking with local groups who may mean well, but are more interested in competing with you than helping you.
  1. Don’t become dependent on just one or two subcontractors. Continue to expand your CLNC subcontractor network. This frees you to meet tight deadlines or to let go of someone who is not the right match for you.
  1. Require all subcontractors to provide a resume and to produce a sample work product before you hire them. Assess the samples to be sure all work product is consistent and represents the same level of quality you provide to your attorney-clients.

CLNC consultant, Robert Malaer, RN, MSN, PMHN, SANE, CNLCP, CALM, CLNC puts a subcontractor to the test with one of his own cases: “I have the subcontractor review a trial case and provide written reports in the format I require as part of the interview and hiring process.”

  1. Sign a formal contract with each subcontractor, and include a fair noncompetition clause. Use the recommended CLNC subcontractor contract from LegalNurse.com.
  1. Have each CLNC subcontractor fill out a W-9 form at the time they sign their contract. Don’t pay their invoice until you receive a completed form. You can download a W-9 Request for Taxpayer Identification Number and Certification form and instructions from IRS.gov/pub/irs-pdf/fw9.pdf.
  1. Market to your attorney-clients that you have a network of CLNC subcontractors in a variety of specialties to encourage them to send you more cases.
  1. Communicate your expectations, deadlines and budget for the assignment clearly. Every attorney-client is different and there’s more than one right way to design the report. Clear communication helps to ensure that the CLNC subcontractor provides work product that meets your attorney-client’s needs. Encourage the CLNC subcontractor to ask questions.

Dale Barnes, RN, MSN, PHN, CLNC says, “I have learned the importance of giving the subcontractor parameters and limits for hours allowed per case. It is the same as checking with an attorney before doing too much or too little. If you do not provide a budget, you could end up paying more than is necessary for details that are not needed quite yet.”

  1. Don’t cut your deadlines too close. Get your work from the CLNC subcontractor as far in advance of the due date as possible to allow you to assess their work product.

Dale Barnes, RN, MSN, PHN, CLNC says, “A mistake I made in the beginning was not giving the subcontractors a deadline. I found that by leaving the deadline to them, it was often last minute, and I got nervous about getting the report to the attorney in a timely manner. Now, I always give a reasonable deadline, allowing a bit more time than the CLNC subcontractor may need.”

  1. Put each new subcontractor to the test. Start with small tasks and advance to more complex projects. If the subcontractor doesn’t meet deadlines or doesn’t provide the expected quality work product terminate the subcontractor relationship.
  1. Review the work prepared by a subcontractor (especially beginners) before submitting to your attorney-client. As Michelle Neal states, “Always remember, this is your business and the subcontractor’s work product is a reflection on you.” Allow time to carefully check and edit the subcontractors’ work. Share your changes so the subcontractor can learn to model your best practices.
  1. Pay your CLNC subcontractors 50% of your billing rate. Both Michelle Neal and Dorene Goldstein, RNC, BSN, CLNC pay a little less for new CLNC consultants. Pay within 30 days of invoice date to encourage loyalty and enthusiasm for future projects.
  1. Invoice the attorney at your hourly rate. It is not necessary to indicate to the attorney the number of hours you worked vs. the hours your CLNC subcontractor worked.
  1. Treat each CLNC subcontractor as an individual. Focus on and use their strengths to supplement your own strengths. One CLNC consultant may write great personal injury chronologies, but is not as strong at analyzing medical malpractice cases. Likewise, the CLNC subcontractor who is masterful at analyzing malpractice cases may be easily bored by writing personal injury summaries.
  1. Acknowledge and thank your CLNC subcontractors. Don’t take your CLNC subcontractors for granted.

CLNC consultant Dale Barnes states: “Treat your CLNC subcontractors as co-workers and don’t expect them to be you.”

CLNC consultant Michelle Neal adds, “Honesty, respect and open communication ensures you have a good working relationship with your CLNC subcontractor.”

Follow these 17 Best Practices for managing subcontractors to achieve sensational results for your CLNC business. Thanks to the CLNC Pros: Suzanne Arragg, Dale Barnes, Dorene Goldstein, Robert Malaer and Michelle Neal for sharing their subcontracting expertise.

Success Is Yours,

P.S. Comment and share your Best Practices for managing Certified Legal Nurse Consultant subcontractors.

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*The opinions and statements made by Vickie Milazzo, the founder of Medical-Legal Consulting Institute, Inc. are based on her experiences and expertise, should not be applied beyond the specific context provided, and do not guaranty or project actual results. Vickie Milazzo is no longer involved in the operations or management of the business, but is involved as an independent education consultant.

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