Legal Nurse Career Overview

Maura Deering, J.D.
Updated June 27, 2023
    Legal nurses provide assistance and expertise in medical legal cases. Read on about how to become a legal nurse consultant and launch your next career.
    mini logo

    Are you ready to earn your online nursing degree?

    Legal Nurse consulting with attorneysCredit: sturti / E+ / Getty Images

    How Long to Become:
    7 years

    Job Outlook:
    +7% for RNs (2019-2029)

    Median Annual Salary:

    Legal Nurse Career in Brief

    ADN required
    certification not required

    Legal nurses’ unique roles include analysts, collaborators, educators, researchers, and strategists. They function as consultants at the crossroads of healthcare and law, offering expertise in nursing, medicine, and healthcare systems.

    Key Skills and Responsibilities

    • Participating in client interviews
    • Reviewing medical records and documentation
    • Conducting literature searches and research
    • Identifying standards of care
    • Drafting medical legal documents
    • Providing expert court testimony
    • Assembling evidence for trial
    • Preparing care cost estimates
    • Assisting with depositions

    Skills Learned

    • Organizational
    • Critical Thinking
    • Communication Skills
    • Knowledge of Legal Terminology
    Loading...Learn More
    Visit Site
    Loading...Learn More
    Visit Site
    Loading...Learn More
    Visit Site

    Where Do Legal Nurses Work?

    Legal nurses work with attorneys, claims adjusters, medical staff, and patients. These nurses find employment in law firms, insurance companies, healthcare facilities, patient safety organizations, and corporate legal departments.

    The list below outlines common work settings and responsibilities.

    • minusLaw Firms

      Legal nurses working in law firms conduct client interviews, review standards of care, summarize medical records, and provide expert testimony.

    • minusInsurance Companies

      With insurance companies, these nurses analyze healthcare benefits, audit medical bills, and perform case management.

    • minusHealthcare Facilities

      Legal nurses in healthcare facilities collaborate with team members, investigate malpractice claims, educate staff, and ensure law and regulation compliance.

    What Is the Difference Between a Legal Nurse Consultant and a Nurse Attorney?

    Nurses interested in healthcare law can consider careers as nurse attorneys. However, becoming a nurse attorney requires a law degree and admission to a state bar association. While legal nurse consultants provide assistance and expertise in legal cases, nurse attorneys are lawyers themselves.

    The following table lists a few differences between legal nurse consultants and nurse attorneys.

    Legal Nurse Consultant

    • checkEducation: Associate degree in nursing (ADN) or bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) degree
    • checkExam: National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN)
    • checkLicensure: Registered nurse (RN)
    • checkExperience: Five years of RN work recommended
    • checkRoles: Consultant, expert witness, liaison, researcher

    Nurse Attorney

    • checkEducation: BSN and law degree
    • checkExam: NCLEX-RN, LSAT (pre-law school exam), and bar exam
    • checkLicensure: RN and state bar association
    • checkExperience: A few years of RN work recommended
    • checkRoles: Attorney, litigator, lobbyist

    How To Become a Legal Nurse Consultant

    Graduate With a BSN or an ADN

    Legal nurses must hold RN licenses. A BSN or an ADN prepares and qualifies graduates to sit for the NCLEX-RN exam and apply for licensure.

    Pass the NCLEX-RN Exam To Receive RN Licensure

    Graduates take the NCLEX-RN about a month after completing their degrees. The test covers four areas of client needs, including patient safety and health promotion.

    Gain Clinical Nursing Experience

    The American Association of Legal Nurse Consultants (AALNC) recommends five years of RN experience and requires this work to become legal nurse consultant certified (LNCC).

    Apply To Become LNCC

    Certification is not mandatory but highly recommended. Eligibility requires an RN license, five years in RN practice, and 2,000 hours of legal nurse consulting experience.

    How Much Do Legal Nurses Make?

    According to PayScale, the average legal nurse consultant salary totals $80,720, not including bonuses, profit-sharing, or benefits. RNs earn a median average salary of $73,300, so becoming a legal nurse can further increase pay. Legal nurse consultant job listings on Indeed include positions paying more than $80,000 for legal nurse consultants with three years of experience.

    PayScale indicates that salaries begin to climb at around 10 years of working in the field. Legal nurses in St. Louis, New York, and Atlanta earn more than the national average.

    Frequently Asked Questions

    How long does it take to become a legal nurse consultant?

    Students who obtain ADNs and follow the AALNC’s recommendation of five years of RN experience can become legal nurse consultants in seven years. Those who pursue BSNs or master of science in nursing (MSN) degrees add 2-4 years to their educational path. Accelerated and bridge programs can shorten the timeline.

    How can legal nurse consultants advance their career?

    Legal nurses looking to advance their careers can earn an LNCC credential, which signifies advanced knowledge and expertise; obtaining a BSN or MSN opens doors to more employment opportunities; and attending law school and becoming a nurse attorney offers an additional career path. Accruing experience and developing your skills also help with career advancement.

    Are legal nurse consultants in demand?

    The demand for legal nurse consultants remains high due to their medical expertise. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 7% increase in RN positions from 2019 to 2029, outpacing the 4% national average for all occupations.

    Is formal legal education required to become a legal nurse consultant?

    Legal nurse consultants do not need formal legal education; however, some colleges, universities, and organizations offer legal nurse consulting courses and award a certificate of completion. Legal nurses typically earn nursing degrees, which qualify them for RN licensure and AALNC certification, but some individuals pursue specialty coursework and higher degrees.

    Resources for Legal Nurses

    • American Association of Legal Nurse Consultants

      In addition to offering LNCC credentials, the AALNC supports its members with a career center, free webinars, local chapters, publications, and discounted professional liability insurance. Non-members can access AALNCs bookstore and education products free of charge. Membership options include RN, non-RN, and journal subscription only.
    • National Alliance of Certified Legal Nurse Consultants

      As the largest and oldest organization of legal nurse consultants, NACLNC comprises a network of certified legal nurse consultants (CLNC) trained at the Vickie Milazzo Institute. Its website features an online directory of CLNCs to connect legal professionals with healthcare experts and help build their cases.

    Related Pages

    Are you ready to earn your online nursing degree?

    Whether you’re looking to get your pre-licensure degree or taking the next step in your career, the education you need could be more affordable than you think. Find the right nursing program for you.