How to Become a Legal Nurse Consultant
Duties, Responsibilities, Requirements, Certifications, Job Outlook, and Salary
Legal Nurse Consultants (LNCs) offer invaluable expertise to attorneys for a wide range of medical issues. These nursing professionals use the nursing process to assess complex information in legal cases. In this role, LNCs work within both the nursing and legal realms.
We’ve put together this career guide to help you better understand the Legal Nurse Consultant profession. Working as a Legal Nurse Consultant could be an excellent career for nurses who excel at problem-solving, investigating, and evaluating information.
(Click here to see our full list of the best work from home nursing jobs)
Continue reading to learn more about the requirements, responsibilities, training, salary, and job outlook of Legal Nurse Consultants.
Legal Nurse Consultant Definition
What is a Legal Nurse Consultant?
Legal Nurse Consultants (LNCs) are Registered Nurses that consult with attorneys and offer expertise on medical issues. LNCs use their experience in clinical nursing practice to apply the nursing process to complex, relevant information in legal cases. Essentially, LNCs bridge the gap between healthcare science, patient outcomes, and due process.
In the late 1970s, Legal Nurse Consulting began as a specialty of nursing. It was further established in 1989, largely thanks to the creation of the American Association of Legal Nurse Consultants (AALNC).
Legal Nurse Consultant Duties & Responsibilities
What Does a Legal Nurse Consultant Do?
LNCs use their skills to perform a number of specialized tasks. Some of the day-to-day job responsibilities of a Legal Nurse Consultant:
- Evaluating medical records
- Leading client interviews
- Conducting medical literature review
- Identifying medical professional standards of practice
- Securing expert witnesses
- Translating healthcare language for attorneys
- Educating attorneys on medical issues
- Giving testimony in court as an expert witness
- Preparing for depositions and trials
- Constructing exhibits for trials or depositions
- Serving as a jury consultant for the legal team
- Consulting on product liability cases
Where Do Legal Nurse Consultants Work?
Many LNCs can work from home or enjoy hybrid schedules. However, some may work in-person for a variety of organizations, such as:
- Independent consulting practices
- Insurance companies
- Legal firms
- Forensic environments
- Government agencies
- Healthcare facilities
Legal Nurse Consultant Hours
The hours of a Legal Nurse Consultant can greatly depend on the number of cases they work each week. For instance, some LNCs may need to attend meetings in the evening or on a weekend. They also may be called upon to serve as expert witnesses during a trial. For the most part, Legal Nurse Consultants work part time, while others maintain a full-time schedule.
Legal Nurse Consultant Skills
Becoming a Legal Nurse Consultant might be a great fit for you if you:
- Work well alone as well as with others
- Prefer structure and organization
- Enjoy medical problem-solving
- Excel at research and analyzation
Legal Nurse Consultant Schooling & Certification
How Long Does it Take to Become a Legal Nurse Consultant?
What Degree Do You Need to Be a Legal Nurse Consultant?
Before you can apply to become a Legal Nurse Consultant, you will likely need to become a Registered Nurse (RN) and gain clinical experience. This means you must graduate from an accredited nursing program, pass the NCLEX-RN licensing exam, obtain experience, and consider certification.
If you’d like to become a Legal Nurse Consultant, then you’ll typically need to follow these steps:
1. Earn a BSN Degree
The first step to becoming a Legal Nurse consultant is to earn a BSN degree. Earning a BSN degree will set you up for better job opportunities, higher earning potential, and a substantially greater job outlook.
Candidates of BSN programs must usually submit various application materials, such as academic transcripts, GRE scores, personal essays, and letters of recommendation.
Core nursing classes during a BSN program often include the following topics:
- Professional nursing
- Health assessment
- Family nursing
- Medical and surgical care
- Nursing management
- Psychosocial nursing
2. Pass the NCLEX-RN Licensure Exam
Before you can become a Registered Nurse, you must pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN). The National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN) developed two exams to test the competence of aspiring RNs and LPNs/LVNs.
Learn more about the NCLEX and what to expect with this detailed FAQ section.
(Click here to learn how to become a Registered Nurse (RN)).
3. Gain Experience in Your Specialization
If you’re looking to become a Legal Nurse Consultant, you must gain hands-on experience working in the field as well as your chosen specialization. By gaining this experience, you’re ultimately establishing the level of expertise that is required in order to teach aspiring nurses.
4. Earn Certification
One of the best ways to set yourself up for a successful job hunt is by earning your certification. The best certification for prospective Legal Nurse Consultants is offered by the American Association of Legal Nurse Consultants (AALNC). This particular credential is accredited by the American Board of Nursing Specialties (ABNS).
Legal Nurse Consultant School Cost
So, how much does it cost to become a Legal Nurse Consultant? Because most nurse consultants are Registered Nurses, they will likely have earned an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) or a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN).
If you choose a BSN degree, then tuition fees will generally depend on the institution. However, you can likely expect to pay anywhere from $40,000 to $100,000.
Below are other considerations to keep in mind:
- Tuition costs do not always include expenses like books, program fees, or other mandatory fees
- Most schools offer some form of financial aid
Work from Home Opportunities
Due to the autonomous nature of their work, Legal Nurse Consultants can work in a variety of settings. This may include independent consulting practices, insurance companies, legal firms, forensic environments, government agencies, healthcare facilities, and more. Depending on their employer, they can often work from home or enjoy hybrid schedules.
As with many other professions, it’s helpful to network as much as possible. Ask for introductions to current LNCs. If you don’t know where to start, contact your local chapter of the American Association of Legal Nurse Consultants (AALNC). In addition, peruse websites of medical malpractice firms and LNC consulting firms. Check their “careers” or “career services” pages. Of course, you can also look at nursing social media sites, career sites, and dedicated nursing career sites.
Lastly, you may want to add your name to the AALNC’s online marketing database so that attorneys can search for an LNC with specific expertise or to serve as an expert witness.
Below are other helpful resources for aspiring LNCs:
- Journal of Legal Nurse Consulting
- American Association of Nurse Attorneys
- LNC STAT
- American College of Legal Nurse Consulting
- Vickie Milazzo Institute, National Alliance of Legal Nurse Consultants
- American Society of Law, Medicine & Ethics
- Nurse Theory/Legal Nurse
Legal Nurse Consultant’s Salary
How Much Does a Legal Nurse Consultant Make?
According to Salary.com, the average Legal Nurse Consultant (LNC) earns around $76,000 per year or about $37 per hour. Their salary often falls somewhere between $68,000 and $87,000. However, LNCs that earn salaries in the 90th percentile can earn more than $97,000 per year!
(Click here to learn about the highest paid nursing jobs).
Legal Nurse Consultant Job Outlook
Although the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) does not offer individual data for LNCs at this time, they have predicted overall growth for Registered Nurses (RNs) through the next ten years. According to the BLS, the overall employment of Registered Nurses is expected to grow 7 percent by 2029. They attribute this growth to the aging baby-boomer population, who will need more preventive care and medical services.
Why Pursue a Career as a Legal Nurse Consultant?
If you’re a nurse who’s interested in legal cases and have a love of problem-solving, then a career as a Legal Nurse Consultant might be perfect for you. As a nurse consultant, you can examine cases and serve as an expert witness. Throughout your career, you’ll have the opportunity to bridge the gap between the legal and nursing processes.
If you’re an aspiring nurse but don’t know where to begin, you can earn your Vocational Nursing diploma, BSN degree, or enroll in any of our other nursing programs at Unitek College.