Legal Nurse Consultant

Before 1970, legal nursing consultant work did not exist in the United States. However, in 1989 the American Association of Legal Nurse Consultants was established (AALNC) as a group of professionals bridging the medical profession and the legal system. 

Legal nurse consultant work is performed in various settings, including government agencies, forensic environments, patient safety organizations, insurance companies, legal firms, and independent consulting practices. Legal nurse consultants (LNCs) scour medical documentation and provide critical testimony and expertise that play a significant role in many patient-provider legal cases.

All legal nurses are registered nurses (RNs) with varying degrees and qualifications. Careers in registered nursing are estimated to grow 6 percent between 2021 and 2031, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS 2022). This demand will create 194,500 new positions in the same period. Legal nurse consultant salaries vary according to the place of employment, level of experience, and education. According to the BLS (2022), the median wage for RNs was $77,600, which breaks down to $37.31 per hour. 

Legal nurse consultants analyze, research, and collaborate with a team of specialists on legal claims and medical-legal cases. As legal team members, their role differs from colleagues who serve in hospitals or private practices. Their medical knowledge helps to answer and analyze testimony, paperwork, and evidence within each legal case which is portrayed in various ways depending upon individual claims. 

Educational backgrounds for legal nurse consultants include completing an associate’s degree (ADN) or a four-year bachelor’s degree in nursing from a university. After degree completion, pursuing a registered nursing (RN) license is the next step. In addition, some legal nurse consultants may hold a master of science in nursing (MSN) or a doctorate of nursing practice (DNP).

Discover legal nurse consulting degrees, admission requirements, programs, professional certifications, and licensure.

Legal Nurse Consultant Specializations & Degree Types

Specializations and degrees of a legal nurse consultant track can take multiple forms. RNs who obtained their bachelor’s degree in nursing may consider a domain of practice before or during work in the field. Specialized experience in a variety of clinical settings includes, but is not limited to, the following areas of nursing:

  • Rehabilitation
  • Cardiology
  • Oncology
  • Obstetrics
  • Neurology
  • Orthopedics

Admissions Requirements for Legal Nurse Consultant Programs

Candidates interested in MSN or DNP programs for legal nurse consultant degrees must present an unencumbered RN license. Most graduate degree programs require individuals seeking admission to have obtained their bachelor’s degree in nursing before applying for the program. 

Some programs provide candidates with associate’s degrees the opportunity to work towards MSN and DNP through an ADN-to-MSN or ADN-to-DNP program.

Legal Nurse Consultant Program Accreditation

The Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) and the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN) are the two major nursing program accrediting organizations in the United States. 

These organizations closely monitor nursing programs at the associate’s, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctorate levels to ensure they meet high-quality standards regarding curriculum, faculty, staff, and evaluation processes.

On-Campus Legal Nurse Consultant Degree Programs

Bergen Community College – LNC certificate

Registered nurses with a BSN or associate of applied science (AAS) in nursing can apply for the legal nurse consultant (LNC) certificate program at Bergen Community College. This 30-credit program is approved by the American Bar Association (ABA) and is one of only a few programs of its kind. New Jersey nurses with 2,000 hours of experience in nursing can enroll in this specialty certificate program. 

Totaling 30 credits with courses covering such topics as the fundamentals of law, New Jersey federal courts: rules and procedures; and personal injury and product liability, RNs will be able to put their most knowledgeable foot forward in this new career. 

  • Location: Paramus, NJ
  • Duration: 30 credits
  • Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE)
  • Tuition: $9,188.50 total 

Duke University – Certificate in legal nurse consulting

RNs seeking to expand their practice in nursing should consider this expanded program formulated by those in the field. The certificate in legal nursing program comprises six modules completed sequentially to meet the needs of the nurse. 

The program builds upon the foundational nursing education to help aspiring LNCs deepen their analysis of medical issues evaluated through a legal lens. RNs with active, unencumbered licenses are welcome to apply for the program, broaden their knowledge of medicine, and bridge into a new career in treatment.

  • Location: Durham, NC
  • Duration: Three months 
  • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)
  • Tuition: $2,195 total

University of Rochester – Legal nurse consultant course

The School of Nursing at the University of Rochester offers nurses with a registered nursing (RN), or advanced practice registered nursing (APRN) license a weekly in-person and asynchronous online course in legal nurse consultancy. The combination of five in-person didactic work sessions and asynchronous coursework meets today’s learner’s needs. 

In addition, internship work provides direct preparation as a legal nurse consultant on live cases with the support of LNC professionals. This course, in tandem with 2,000 hours of LNC practice, prepares students to take the Legal Nurse Consultant Certified exam.

  • Location: Rochester, NY
  • Duration: Six months
  • Accreditation: Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)
  • Tuition: $10,080 total

NHTI Concord’s Community College – Certificate in legal nurse consulting

Experienced RNs seeking expansion in their career field will find the perfect program for LNC certification at NHTI Concord’s Community College. Geared for RNs, the 19-credit curriculum combines analysis, legal theory, business, and hands-on experience in the field. Courses are offered on weekends and evenings, allowing RNs to work while completing this program. 

In addition, the curriculum includes courses in healthcare law; foundations of paralegal studies; legal nurse consulting; administrative law; legal and healthcare ethics; causes of action in contract and tort and litigation; and trial preparation. 

The admission requirements include an active RN license, 45 college credits in general studies, 6,000 hours of work practice, two letters of reference, an essay outlining the reason for choosing NHTI’s program, and official transcripts for all educational degrees. This program is approved by the American Bar Association (ABA).   

  • Location: Concord, NH
  • Duration: One year
  • Accreditation: New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE)
  • Tuition: $3,600 per semester (residents); $7,725 per semester (non-residents)

Widener University – Legal nurse consultant certificate

The legal nurse consultant program at Widener University seeks to provide nurses with as much field experience as possible through philosophy, theory, and ethical applications. It focuses on the importance of legal nurses’ role on the legal team and how to build this foundation of the part itself on the legal team. 

Some of the required courses include legal research and writing; ethics and paralegals; principles and practices of the legal nurse consultant; and civil procedure. Program admissions requirements include an ADN or BSN in nursing and an active RN license. 

  • Location: Chester, PA
  • Duration: 24 months
  • Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE)
  • Tuition: $12,006 total

Online or Hybrid Legal Nurse Consultant Degree Programs

Stony Brook University – Legal nurse consultant course

The School of Professional Development at Stony Brook University’s Center for Corporate Education meets the needs of registered nurses seeking an online legal nurse consultant program. The program comprises 42 hours of instruction with weekly quizzes to ensure content needs are met and learned. Every eight weeks, a new session is open for enrollment in over six hundred universities in the United States. 

The curriculum was designed to be aligned with the American Association of Legal Nurse Consultants. The curriculum includes medical and legal knowledge of topics including product liability; toxic torts; criminal law; wrongful death; medical malpractice; and workers’ compensation. Registered nurses can obtain continuing education units for a small fee. The curriculum is broken into three sessions, which include “Session One: Legal Nurse Consultant Practice Areas and Legal Theory;” “Session Two: Ethics for the Legal Nurse Consultant and the Legal Nurse Consultant’s Role in the Litigation Process;” and “Session Three: The Environments in which a Legal Nurse Consultant Might Work and an Introduction to Legal Writing.”

  • Location: Stony Brook, NY
  • Duration: Eight weeks
  • Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE)
  • Tuition: $1,205 total

University of Georgia – Legal nurse consultant certificate 

The Center for Continuing Education & Hotel at the University of Georgia offers an online legal nurse consultant training program. Nurses wanting to learn more about forensic testimony in a medical context can learn virtually from course instructors and complete this program in just four months. 

Courses include mental capacity, emotional distress, wrongful death, medical malpractice, and criminal law. A certificate of completion is awarded; RNs can use this to prove continuing education units. Nurses interested in completing the test for the legal nurse consultant certified (LNCC) certificate may do so after completion of the system. 

  • Location: Athens, GA
  • Duration: Four months
  • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)
  • Tuition: $1,195 total 

Wilmington University – Post-baccalaureate LNC certificate

The College of Health Professions & Natural Sciences at Wilmington University offers a legal nurse consultant certificate program for RNs with a BSN degree. The entirely online post-baccalaureate program comprises 15 graduate-level credits. The curriculum includes courses such as philosophy and ethics in advanced nursing roles; forensic nursing; legal issues in nursing; practices in the realm of nursing and the law; and a nurse leadership portfolio. 

There are three fundamental competency areas: 1) Meeting the needs of clients and society through medical knowledge and the legal system; 2) Working towards a role founded on professionalism within the legal system; and 3) Utilizing the realm of nursing to form meaning and preserve the dignity of clients and society members. Once admitted, students can transfer up to six credits for the post-baccalaureate certificate. 

  • Location: New Castle, DE
  • Duration: One year
  • Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE)
  • Tuition: $512 per credit 

Portland Community College – Legal nurse consultant course

Portland Community College offers a six-week online course led by a former assistant district attorney. The program does not require any prerequisites and includes 12 lesson modules. 

Courses include evidence law; legal research; preparing for trials; a civil case from start to finish; and a day in the life of a legal nurse consultant. The course provides the necessary background knowledge for bridging the connection between medical nursing and legal nursing alongside attorneys representing civil and criminal cases. It also guides RNs interested in formulating their consulting practice. 

  • Location: Portland, OR
  • Duration: Six weeks
  • Accreditation: Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU)
  • Tuition: $109 total

Mississippi State University – LNC training course

The Center for Continuing Education at Mississippi State University offers a unique 42-hour legal nurse consultant training course. The practice focuses on RN and physician associates (PAs) interested in working as medical professionals alongside insurance companies, government agencies, health care providers, and law firms to advise and appear as expert witnesses. 

The curriculum was written with the guidelines for education by the American Association of Legal Nurse Consultants wrote the curriculum with the guidelines for education. Topics center around connecting medical knowledge to the legal field and preparing to provide witness testimony in medical expertise. Students gain an increased understanding of the medical-legal system in this program to broaden their medical professional backgrounds. 

  • Location:  Mississippi State, MS
  • Duration: Seven weeks
  • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)
  • Tuition: $1,195 total

California State University Long Beach – LNC training course

The College of Professional and Continuing Education at California State University Long Beach offers an online legal nurse consultant professional development course for RNs and PAs. The unique online format allows for message board discussion with peers concurrently enrolled in the program simultaneously as they complete course work in the flexible online design. 

Courses taught in the program include personal injury; product liability; and criminal law, among others. It also incorporates 42 hours of ANCC-accredited continued nursing education work. Through this program, RNs and PAs expand their medical interests and formulate upward mobility through new content growth applied within their industry in a unique professional capacity. 

  • Location: Long Beach, CA
  • Duration: Seven weeks
  • Accreditation: American Nurses Credentialing Center’s Commission on Accreditation (ANCC)
  • Tuition: $1,195 starting cost

Victoria College

Victoria College offers a flexible BARBRI program to learn the ins and outs of legal nurse consultant work. They offer two options to complete the program: an instructor-led course over seven weeks or a flexible self-paced course completed within four months. The courses include ethics; legal theory and terminology; employment areas and fundamentals of legal writing; and the litigation process. 

This certificate program takes the building blocks of medical knowledge and applies them to the legal components necessary for this professional field. Approved by the Colorado Nurses Association boasts graduates who complete 80 percent of classes, including 42 contact hours of professional development and education requirements. New sessions of program coursework are available every eight weeks, with six sessions available throughout the year. 

  • Location: Victoria, TX
  • Duration: Two to four months
  • Accreditation: American Nurses Credentialing Center’s Commission on Accreditation (ANCC)
  • Tuition: $1,195 total

How Long Does it Take to Become a Legal Nurse Consultant?

It may take eight to nine years to become a legal nurse consultant: four years of high school, a minimum of two years of nursing education, and a minimum of two or three years of work experience to be eligible for LNC certification.

How To Become a Legal Nurse Consultant – Step-by-Step Guide

Step 1: Graduate from High School or Complete a GED (Four Years)

Earning a high school diploma or GED is the first step to becoming a legal nurse consultant. While enrolled in either high school or a GED program, students should pursue advanced placement courses in science, healthcare, public health, or mathematics to provide as much background in the future subject as possible.  

Step 2: Complete an ADN or BSN (Four Years)

Completing an ADN (associate’s degree in nursing) or a BSN (bachelor of science in nursing) prepares nurses for work through courses and hands-on clinical practice or internship work. 

Step 3: Become a Registered Nurse (Timelines Vary)

LNC certificate and training programs require RN licenses for admission. LNC programs can count towards RN continuing education credits.

Step 4: Gain Work Experience (Timelines Vary)

To be eligible to sit for LNC exams, many credential-granting organizations require 2,000 hours of work experience. RNs gain invaluable practical skills through learning about legal team proceedings, witness explanations, and research analysis. 

Step 5: Complete a Graduate Degree in Legal Nurse Consultant (Four Months to Four Years)

Legal nurse consultant training and certificate programs are available and last for as little as one semester and up to four years or more. Graduate degrees take two to four years to complete. While they are not a requirement for RNs who have previously completed a BSN and are seeking an MSN or DNP, there are various programs specializing in LNC didactic courses and practical experiences.

Step 6: Obtain National Certification for Specializations (Timelines Vary)

Legal nurse consulting is a nursing specialization. The work requires a continued education program that meets the needs of the individual. There are ADN, BSN, and post-baccalaureate programs that meet requirements and serve as stepping stones toward becoming an LNC. 

Step 7: Obtain State Licensure (Timelines Varies)

State licensure for registered nurses varies by individual state, but all states require RNs to be licensed. Completing a nursing program through an ADN, BSN, or post-baccalaureate educational program provides the necessary education to sit for the NCLEX exam required in all 50 states to become an RN. 

Step 8: Maintain All Certifications and Local Licensure (Every One to Five Years).

LNC certification through the American Legal Nurse Consultant Certification Board (AALNC) requires meeting eligibility criteria and completing a multiple choice exam to gain certification. Once granted, LNCC certifications are valid for five years. The renewal process includes continued education or examination completion, depending upon the applicant’s choice.

What Do Legal Nurse Consultants Do?

Legal nurse consultants are a specialty within the field of nursing. The role of legal nurse consultants is a bridge between the medical community and the legal world. Legal nurse consultant duties include: 

  • Providing expert testimony 
  • Consulting on product liability
  • Performing interviews 
  • Trial and deposition preparation
  • Preparing exhibits for trials and depositions
  • Communicating the meaning of healthcare language
  • Medical record analysis
  • Medical literature record reviews
  • Collaborating with attorneys about medical information
  • Providing education about the illness or medical knowledge at hand
  • Organizing witnesses within specific expertise

Legal Nurse Consultant Certifications & Licensure

Here are two organizations that certify legal nurse consultants: 

The American Legal Nurse Consultant Certification Board (the certifying body affiliated with the AALNC) is validated by the Accreditation Board for Specialty Nursing Certification (ABSNC). 

Legal nurse consultant certification is valid for four to five years. After this allotted time, nurses must provide continued education completion documentation or complete an exam. 

Every state’s process for RN licensing and renewal varies. However, a few items remain consistent in all 50 states. Typically, legal nurse consultants need the following:

  • An ADN or BSN degree from an accredited program
  • Pass the NCLEX exam
  • Possess a valid RN license within a state’s board of nursing
  • Complete coursework in an LNC certification or training program 
  • Sit for a certification exam 
  • Renew credentials

How Much Do Legal Nurse Consultants Make?

Salaries for legal nurse consultants vary widely depending on expertise, education, and cost of living. The BLS shows the average annual salary for registered nurses was $82,750 per year (BLS May 2021). Here are the salary percentiles for RNs: 

  • 10th percentile: $59,450
  • 25th percentile: $61,790
  • 50th percentile (median): $77,600
  • 75th percentile: $97,580
  • 90th percentile: $120,250

Legal Nurse Consultant Career Alternatives

Alternative career options for legal nurse consultants include job responsibilities such as advising, healthcare, research, advocacy, and legal representation. 

Here are some career alternatives related to legal nurse consultant 

Become a Licensed Practical or Licensed Vocational Nurse (LPN/LVN)

Licensed practical nurses (LPNs) and licensed vocational nurses (LVNs) specialize in primary nursing care in various settings across the country. These settings may include extended care facilities, nursing homes, physician’s offices, hospitals, or private homes.

  • Typical Education: Post-secondary, non-degree award
  • Licensing or Certifying Organization: Dependent on state boards of nursing requirements.

Become an EMT or Paramedic Professional

Emergency medical technicians (EMTs) and paramedic professionals provide immediate on-call response care for patients in critically ill positions. In addition, these professionals respond to calls phoned in by persons in public or in dire medical emergencies. They also provide transportation and care en route to a hospital for continued care. 

  • Typical Education: Four-year bachelor’s degree or two-year associate’s degree; post-secondary non-degree award program
  • Licensing or Certifying Organization: National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians (NAEMT) 

Become a Social Worker

Social workers support citizens in coping and solving many physical, mental, and medical needs. Nursing and social work often overlap and represent the health and wellness needs of many patients and populations. 

  • Typical Education: Bachelor’s or master’s degree in social work
  • Licensing or Certifying Organization: Dependent on state of residency; a bachelor’s or master’s degree by an accredited program or university. 
Rachel Becker

Rachel Becker

Writer

Rachel Becker is a freelance writer who enjoys life in the PNW. She holds a master’s degree in education and taught in elementary classrooms for twelve years. When she is not running around after two toddlers, she makes time for daily movement, running two blogs, and reading.

Related Articles

  • 25 January 2023

    2023 Most Affordable Online Family NP Programs (FNP)

    To help students find affordable online family nurse practitioner (FNP) programs, we’ve outlined the top 15 most affordable in-state and out-of-state online FNP programs in 2023.

  • 14 June 2022

    A Day in the Life of an Acute Care Nurse Practitioner – Expert Interview

    Nurse practitioners (NPs) play a crucial role in increasing access to high-quality healthcare for millions of Americans. While the majority of NPs still practice primary care, a growing number are choosing instead to practice acute care.

  • 18 November 2021

    Guide to Nursing Careers in Long-Term Care

    Geriatric nursing in long-term care can prove a rewarding career with many roles and room to grow. Nurses are the heart of long-term care and older adults are a unique population with whom to work.

  • 28 April 2021

    Nurses Month: An Expert’s Advocacy Guide for Those at the Heart of Healthcare

    This May is National Nurses Month, a time to reflect upon the crucial role that nurses play in the American healthcare system. The nation’s more than four million registered nurses (RNs) carry out a wide variety of services: performing physical exams, supplying health education, administering medications and personalized interventions, and coordinating care in collaboration with other health professionals.