How to Become a Legal Nurse Consultant: Salary, Certification & Jobs

Nurse at desk with paperworkA legal nurse consultant is the medical part of a legal team, often working in medical malpractice cases. This type of medical professional educates attorneys and clients regarding medical issues relevant to a case. A legal nurse consultant may also act as a nurse expert witness in court proceedings involving malpractice, worker’s compensation, fraud, abuse and other matters involving medical care. A legal nurse consultant participates in case management and strategy discussions.

Legal nurse consultants participate in client interviews and indentify, organize and analyze pertinent medical records to gather medical information about cases. These nurses identify, screen and facilitate information provided by expert witnesses. These consultants also attend independent medical exams. Legal nurse consultants help to evaluate strengths and weaknesses of cases, identify future medical costs for plaintiffs and perform cost-of-care estimates for long-term treatment and catastrophic cases.

Table of Contents
How to Become a Legal Nurse Consultant
Education Requirements
Legal Nurse Consultant Job Description
Sample Job Description
Legal Nurse Consulting on YouTube
Personality Traits
Career Options
National Salary Snapshot
Legal Nurse Consultant Certification
Cost of Certification
Career Path
Professional Organizations
Relevant Publications
Related Careers

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) does not provide information specific to the field of legal nurse consultant but general information about registered nurses is available.

Nurse Salary and Employment Data

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Source: BLS Wage Data by Area and Occupation. * or ** indicate insignificant or unavailable data.

Level of Education Required Associate degree or Bachelor Degree in Nursing
Board Examinations needed NCLEX-RN, RN-BC
Average Salary $77,772
# of Jobs (2012) 2,712,000
Job Outlook (2012 to 2022) 19% growth

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics http://www.bls.gov
Salary information courtesy of Healthcare Salaries http://www.healthcare-salaries.com/

How to become a legal nurse consultant

To become a legal nurse consultant, an individual:

  • Must have an Associate of Science in Nursing (ASN) or a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) and have passed the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN)
  • May pursue additional education in law and nursing
  • May pursue voluntary certification as a Legal Nurse Consultant Certified (LNCC) by the American Legal Nurse Consultant Certification Board (ALNCCB)

Education requirements

To become a legal nurse consultant, one must get an Associate of Science in Nursing (ASN), Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) or Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) and pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX).

Those who wish to become a legal nurse consultant must already have graduated nursing school and passed board examinations, and already be a registered nurse. RNs interested in working in legal nurse consulting may take advanced courses in law and nursing.

Additional training helps the candidate gain knowledge relevant to law and medicine.

Wilkes RN to MS

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Job description

Legal nurse consultants review medical records, educate colleagues, investigate cases, prepare for trials and testify as expert witnesses. The legal nurse consultant determines whether professional negligence occurred, summarizes injuries and treatments, and identifies missing or tampered records. This nurse may research compensation and disability claims to determine whether the claim has merit, examine cases involving Medicare or Medicaid fraud and make inquiries into potential misconduct by a healthcare practitioner or facility. The legal nurse consultant may prepare medical fact reports and summaries for presentation at trial and testify as an expert nurse witness.

Outside the courtroom, the legal nurse educates attorneys about medical facts, treatments, timelines, medical terminology and relevant health information. The legal nurse also acts as a liaison between the attorneys, physicians and clients involved in a case or claim.

Sample Job Description

Sample job descriptions and qualifications are sourced from various job board websites, like these: careerbuilder.com, indeed.com.

  • Provide medical expertise at pre-trial conferences, depositions, trials, mediations, and arbitrations
  • Interpret routine, complex or unique medical information to determine whether it was necessary, reasonable and causally related
  • Engage in frequent discussions with claim handler to help develop a claim resolution strategy
  • Identify medical trends for use in developing and recommending training programs, respond to claim requests for training, and assist the claim handler in projecting medical costs of claims
  • Documenting claim activity involvement as necessary

Qualifications

  • Current state registered nurse license with BSN preferred
  • 2 years full time med/surg nursing experience within the last 3 years
  • Current CPR certification

Legal Nurse Consulting on YouTube

Legal Nurse Consultant Personality Traits:

Personality traits:

  • Analytical
  • Research-oriented
  • Organized
  • Persistent

A legal nurse consultant typically reports to a legal team.

Career options

Typical workplaces for this career:

  • Law firms
  • Government offices
  • Insurance companies
  • Hospital risk management departments and HMOs
  • Pharmaceutical companies
  • Consulting firms
  • Independent practices

Legal nurse consultants often work as independent contractors.

National Salary Snapshot

Indeed lists the salary as $21,000, while SimplyHired posts the average yearly pay for a legal nurse consultant at $46,000.

Certification information

A legal nurse consultant may pursue certification by examination to become a Legal Nurse Consultant Certified (LNCC). Accredited by the American Board of Nurse Specialists (ABNS), this certification is recognized by the American Association of Legal Nursing Consultants (AALNC). Certification allows the candidate to work in many areas of law, including medical malpractice, workers’ compensation, personal injury and product liability, risk management, elder law and life care planning, administrative health law and in criminal and forensic cases.

To be eligible to take the examination, candidates must hold a current and unrestricted license as a registered nurse and have a minimum of five years experience practicing as an RN. The nurse must present evidence of 2,000 hours of legal nurse consulting experience within the past five years.

The LNCC certification is valid for five years.

Cost of certification

Credential: LNCC® from the American Legal Nurse Consultant Certification Board (ALNCCB)

Fees for Non-Members:
Initial Exam: $425

Recertification: $425

Fees for Members:
Initial Exam: $325

Recertification: $325

Legal nurse consultant career path

The typical career path to becoming a legal nurse consultant is to:

  • Earn an Associate of Science in Nursing (ASN) or Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN)
  • Pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN)
  • Work as an RN for at least five years
  • Gain two years experience as a legal nurse
  • Become a Legal Nurse Consultant Certified (LNCC) by passing the certification test issued by the American Legal Nurse Consultant Certification Board (ALNCCB)

Professional organizations

American Association of Legal Nurse Consultants: http://www.aalnc.org/

Relevant publications

The Journal of Legal Nurse Consulting

Related careers

Nurse attorney – someone who is a registered nurse and a licensed attorney

Nurse paralegal – a nurse who has completed a formal paralegal program

RN compliance officer – works with patient-related accounting and insurance claims