10 Common Misconceptions About Legal Nurse Consultant Jobs

Certified Legal Nurse Consultants know they have a good thing going and enjoy their private club. Because they consult with law firms and insurance companies you won’t meet them in the hospital setting. In fact, there’s a high probability you’ve never met a legal nurse consultant because they don’t hang where you hang – hospitals, long term care facilities and doctors’ offices.

Legal nurse consultants hang with attorneys, insurance companies and corporations (plus they get to eat and use the restroom whenever they want). You won’t find job postings like you do for hospital RN jobs because Certified Legal Nurse Consultants are independent contractors. They own their own businesses and consult part time or full time. This contributes to why I’m not surprised that RNs have misconceptions about legal nurse consultant jobs. You probably have some of these misconceptions yourself. In this video, I’ll bust the 10 most common misconceptions about legal nurse consulting.

Certified Legal Nurse Consultants know they have a good thing going and enjoy their private club. Because they consult with law firms and insurance companies you won’t meet them in the hospital setting. This contributes to why I’m not surprised that RNs have misconceptions about legal nurse consultant jobs. You probably have some of these misconceptions yourself. In this video, I’ll bust the 10 most common misconceptions about legal nurse consulting.

Vickie L. Milazzo
RN, MSN, JD

Misconception #1: An RN can consult with attorneys without achieving certification.

CLNC® consultant Jane Hurst, RN, CLNC explains why this is a dangerous misconception. She says, “Legal nurse consulting is a recognized nursing specialty and certification is an indication that the individual has obtained an advanced level of expertise through rigorous training. CLNC Certification not only provides the education necessary to enable the Certified Legal Nurse Consultant to practice in a safe and effective manner, it also denotes advanced expertise to prospective attorney-clients.

Jane continues, “Working on legal nurse consultant jobs without specific training or advanced certification is similar to being responsible for direct patient care in a specialty area in which you have no experience. It’s dangerous!

This is why Vickie Milazzo Institute offers CLNC Certification for beginners. Anyone who tells you that you don’t need training to become a legal nurse consultant is dangerous to attorneys, their clients and to the reputation of the legal nurse consulting specialty.

If you choose to pursue consulting without legal nurse consulting training you’re setting yourself up for failure with attorneys because you can’t sell what you don’t know and you won’t be able to perform to the attorneys’ expectations. No experience with an attorney (whether interviewing or consulting on a legal nurse consultant job) is a dress rehearsal.

Every attorney-client relationship counts. That’s why you have to know what you’re doing from the beginning. In the CLNC Certification Program you’ll learn how to analyze cases, write reports, access the authoritative standards and how to implement 30 additional services that legal nurse consultants provide to attorneys. Plus you’ll learn business development and interviewing and marketing strategies.

Misconception #2: I need an advanced degree or BSN at a minimum.

You don’t need a BSN or advanced degrees. Some of the most successful Certified Legal Nurse Consultants don’t have BSN degrees. What matters is the CLNC Certification combined with your nursing experience. Attorneys don’t care about alphabet soup letters behind your name. They do expect you to be trained as a legal nurse consultant and for you to know exactly what they want and need on their legal nurse consultant jobs.

Misconception #3: The attorney market for legal nurse consultant jobs is saturated.

Dorene Goldstein, RNC, BSN, CLNC shares “With the increased number of CLNC consultants, I’ve seen more of a need because more attorneys know that working with a Certified Legal Nurse Consultant is a benefit. There’s plenty of legal nurse consultant jobs to go around for all of us. The more CLNC consultants there are, the more attorneys hear about us and the more demand there is.

There are 1,819,134 attorneys in the U.S. and approximately 40,000 new attorneys graduate every year. The attorney-market can never be saturated. Attorneys will always need legal nurse consultants because they’re not RNs and don’t know what you know. It only takes 2-5 attorney-clients to keep you busy full time. With more than 1.8 million attorneys, that’s plenty of opportunity for all Certified Legal Nurse Consultants.

Misconception #4: Attorneys would never pay an RN $150/hr for legal nurse consultant jobs.

Vickie Milazzo Institute surveyed CLNC consultants on fees and the survey results revealed:

  • Consulting expert fees range from $125-$175/hr
  • More experienced legal nurse consultants charge up to $225/hr
  • Legal nurse consultants who serve as testifying experts charge between $250 to $400/hr

Certified Legal Nurse Consultant Lynn Belcher, RN, BSN, MHA, CLNC shares, “Attorneys don’t blink an eye when I quote $150/hr.

In fact, $150/hr is a bargain in contrast to the MD experts who charge up to $1,000/hr. More importantly, most attorneys say that CLNC consultants are more detail-oriented than MD experts. Legal nurse consultants dig up the relevant facts MDs miss because MDs don’t read the entire medical record. Certified Legal Nurse Consultants are both cost-effective and more effective for attorneys. Many of the legal nurse consultant jobs you consult on are multimillion dollar cases. A $10,000 invoice might seem like a lot, but it’s not when millions are at stake.

Misconception #5: I will be going against my nursing colleagues as a legal nurse consultant.

Dorene Goldstein knows better. She says, “When screening medical malpractice cases, the majority of the time I advise the plaintiff attorney that there is no negligence. It feels good to be able to support my nursing profession when the standards of care are met. Likewise, if I discover nursing negligence, I objectively educate the attorney about the nursing deviations from the standards.

Legal nurse consulting neither favors nor betrays the nursing and medical professions because CLNC consultants don’t take sides. The legal nurse consulting specialty seeks the truth. Our focus is to identify whether the healthcare providers adhered to the recognized standards established by the nursing profession itself.

We’re not vigilantes for injured people, nor are we protectors of the overworked, underpaid RNs. Our job is to accurately represent the standards of the nursing profession and to be objective educators to attorneys representing medical-related cases.

If RNs don’t speak for our professional standards, someone else (MDs, hospital administrators, insurance companies) will. Now that’s a scary thought.

Misconception #6: Attorneys can review the medical records themselves.

Anyone can be trained to read words in a medical record, but that doesn’t mean they fully understand what they’re reading. Smart attorneys know that they know the law and that Certified Legal Nurse Consultants know nursing and medicine.

A recent legal nurse consultant job illustrates why one CLNC consultant’s attorney-client said, “I couldn’t do this without you.” The case involved competency issues in a dying man who had signed a land deed over to his new wife. After navigating through a large volume of electronic medical records resulting from a lengthy hospital stay, the CLNC consultant discovered that the medication records were missing and advised the attorney to obtain them. The average attorney would not consider the importance of how the medication records relate to a competency issue, but a legal nurse consultant will.

Once the CLNC consultant received the medication records, she identified that the patient had been on a morphine drip while signing the deed. The attorney was then able to use that fact to prove that the man was incompetent to sign the document. The attorney would never have been able to do this without the Certified Legal Nurse Consultant.

Even an attorney who can read words in an electronic medical record (EMR) can’t read between the lines because that attorney has never been in the ED, OR, ICU or psych unit. You’re bringing real-world experience to the case and attorneys respect you for what you bring.

CLNC consultant Dale Barnes, RN, MSN, PHN, CLNC states: “The attorneys I work with appreciate the legal nurse consulting work I do, say thank you and refer me to their colleagues. When would I ever get that response – receiving recognition – from an MD or administrator?

Certified Legal Nurse Consultant Millie Mannion shares: “The professional growth and respect for self I have gained is great. Being a CLNC consultant has taught me that I can do anything I set my mind to. It gives me a feeling of strength and fulfillment that no other nursing job has ever done.

Misconception #7: To be a Certified Legal Nurse Consultant you must be willing to testify.

Dale Barnes busts this misconception. She says: “When RNs hear I’m a Certified Legal Nurse Consultant, the first assumption they often make is that I’m always a testifying expert. That could not be further from the truth. The majority of my legal nurse consultant jobs involve working behind the scenes as a consulting expert on a variety of medical malpractice and personal injury cases.

Most Certified Legal Nurse Consultants do not testify. Like Dale, they consult on legal nurse consultant jobs behind the scenes.

Misconception #8: Most Certified Legal Nurse Consultants work on legal nurse consultant jobs in-house for law firms.

Many of the larger law firms do hire Certified Legal Nurse Consultants as in-house employees, but most CLNC consultants work as independent consultants with attorneys and insurance companies. They create their own schedule, charge fees up to $150/hr and consult as much or as little as they choose.

63% of the law firms have 1-5 attorneys. They’re the ones that need independent legal nurse consultants the most and that’s your market. Yes, there is a place for legal nurse consultants inside larger firms and insurance companies. You’ll have a steady paycheck, but you won’t have the freedom and income potential independent CLNC consultants enjoy. Remember, you only need 2-5 attorney-clients to stay busy full time.

Misconception #9: Certified Legal Nurse Consultants only consult with attorneys.

Attorneys are an important market for CLNC consultants, but they’re not the only market. Susan Schaab, RN, BSN, CLNC uses her CLNC credential as a consultant to healthcare facilities. She says, “Many nurses think that becoming a Certified Legal Nurse Consultant is only useful if you want to consult with attorneys, but it also opens doors to other types of consulting work. The focus in healthcare is no longer on the volume of patients treated, but on the quality of care provided. Numerous companies are offering consulting services to help hospitals with this adjustment and nurse consultants are in high demand. CLNC Certification gives you the skills to provide high quality professional consulting services in a variety of healthcare settings.

Certified Legal Nurse Consultant Jane Hurst consults with an international medical device company while Dorene Goldstein is the “go-to” consultant for a multinational elevator and escalator company, helping to defend their injury cases. There’s no limit to what you can do or who you can work with as a Certified Legal Nurse Consultant.

Attorneys are the obvious choice, but not the only one. Any corporation that produces a medication or product represents an opportunity for legal nurse consultants. The possibilities are limitless.

Misconception #10: This is too good to be true.

It’s scary to move toward a new goal. It’s also scary to start something new when you’re already working a full-time job. But fear doesn’t make an opportunity too good to be true. Test it for yourself by getting started part time. If you work 12-hr shifts in your RN hospital job, use your four days off each week to get started. Start with one attorney. If you can consult with one attorney, you can consult with two. If you can consult with two attorneys, you can consult with four.

35 years ago I told my RN friends, “I’m never coming back to the hospital unless I’m in a coma” and I didn’t. Once you experience firsthand the private club of Certified Legal Nurse Consultants you’ll never look back.

There you have them. The 10 common misconceptions about legal nurse consultant jobs. Now that you know the facts about legal nurse consulting you can make an educated decision about whether this growing specialty is the right fit for you.

For more on legal nurse consultant jobs read:



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