Legal nurse consultants use their health care knowledge to consult on legal cases. Learn more about what they do and how to become one below.
Legal nurse consultants (LNC) work with attorneys and law firms on medical cases. Using a combination of medical and legal knowledge, LNCs are the individuals responsible for providing much-needed health care guidance to legal professionals representing both patients and health care workers.
Registered nurses looking to expand their skill sets and expertise might consider becoming an LNC. Read on to learn more about what LNCs do, where they work, what they make, and how to become one.
An LNC is a registered nurse (RN) who provides medical consultations on legal cases. Rather than offering guidance to patients, LNCs review and analyze legal information to advise attorneys working on health care and nursing malpractice cases.
Unique in the health care industry due to their medical and legal knowledge, LNCs use their expertise to manage a range of responsibilities in a variety of professional settings.
Though they share much of the same training and experience, the role of an LNC includes vastly different responsibilities and duties than those of an RN. Legal nurse consultants pair their expert medical knowledge with an understanding of health care and nursing laws.
Some common LNC responsibilities include:
Review and analyze medical records
Pass professional judgment on medical cases
Advise attorneys on health care-related cases, such as those pertaining to medical malpractice
Educate legal experts on the standards of care for nursing
Act as an expert witness during trials
Legal nurse consultants are employed in a wide variety of professional environments, including hospitals, clinics, care facilities, law firms, and health insurance companies.
Their unique skill set, training, and experience make LNCs valuable to both employers and potential clients. As a result, RNs who become LNCs can often expect to see a pay increase and more demand for their services.
Although there are no official statistics on the average salary that LNCs make per year, there is data that suggests a reasonable range that those entering the field of legal nursing can expect to make.
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median annual salary for registered nurses was $77,600 in 2021 . Using self-reported data, however, Glassdoor places the median annual salary for legal nursing consultants at $106,691 as of May 2022 .
In effect, aspiring LNCs can expect to earn a greater median salary than RNs, though the exact amount will likely vary based on experience and geographic location.
Much as is the case with their salary, there are no official statistics on the job outlook for legal nurse consultants. However, the statistics that are available paint an optimistic picture.
According to the BLS, the number of health care occupations is projected to grow by 16 percent between 2020 and 2030 . During the same period, the number of RN positions is expected to increase by 9 percent with “about 194,500 [new] openings for registered nurses” each year .
This combined outlook suggests that LNCs can reasonably expect their services to be in-demand in the coming years.
LNCs are highly-trained professionals with a specialized skill set that interprets health care through a legal framework. To become an LNC, you should do the following:
To practice as an LNC, you must first be an RN.
Consequently, individuals wanting to become a legal nurse consultant should first work on becoming a certified registered nurse. There are several paths to becoming a registered nurse, including through a bachelor’s degree program, an associate degree program, and a specialized training program.
Once you have achieved the required training, you must then pass National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX) and receive state licensure to practice as an RN professionally.
Legal nurse consulting programs build on course takers’ medical education and experience by providing a deeper understanding of health care and nursing laws. As a result, registered nurses hoping to become LNCs will likely benefit from attending programs specifically designed to provide legal training to nursing professionals.
Though not strictly required, those hoping to enter the field might consider joining a legal nurse consultant certification program. Offered by both accredited universities and professional organizations, such as the American Association of Legal Nurse Consultants (AALNC), these programs provide additional training and offer professional legal nursing credentials that could make you a more competitive job applicant.
The LNCC exam, for instance, is a common path for an RN to showcase their professional commitment. To qualify for the exam, you must not only be a registered nurse but also have at least five years of professional RN experience, and a minimum of 2000 hours of legal nurse consulting in the past five years. Legal nurse consultants certified through the LNCC exam must take it every five years to maintain their certification.
Practicing LNCs can find both full-time and part-time work through a variety of sources. Common job posting sites, such as LinkedIn, Indeed, and ZipRecruiter, can help you identify local opportunities. Meanwhile, professional organizations like the AALNC provide a professional network that can help connect LNC providers with potential clients and employers.
The path to becoming a legal nurse consultant is filled with educational opportunities. The University of Pennsylvania’s Healthcare Law Specialization teaches the fundamentals of US health care law, including policy, management, and legal liability.
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Affordable Care Act, Health Law, Health Insurance Portability And Accountability Act (HIPAA), Health Policy, Privacy, Healthcare Management, Health Policy Analysis, Health Insurance, Permanent Placement, Unfair Labor Practices, Legal Liability, Budget Estimation, organizational strategy, Health system analysis, World Health Organization analysis, Organizational Behavior
1. BLS. “Occupational Outlook Handbook: Registered Nurses, https://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/registered-nurses.htm.” Accessed August 30, 2022.
2. Glassdoor. “Legal Nurse Consultant Salaries, https://www.glassdoor.com/Salaries/legal-nurse-consultant-salary-SRCH_KO0,22.htm.” Accessed August 30, 2022.
3. BLS. “Occupational Outlook Handbook: Healthcare Occupations, https://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/home.htm.” Accessed August 30, 2022.
This content has been made available for informational purposes only. Learners are advised to conduct additional research to ensure that courses and other credentials pursued meet their personal, professional, and financial goals.