Nurse paralegals are multi-talented professionals who are skilled in both the legal and medical fields. Nurse paralegals are called upon to investigate and provide their professional opinion regarding legal matters that involve health or medical issues. As such, the expertise of nurse paralegals is often a valuable resource for malpractice law suits, health insurance claims, workers’ compensation claims, and personal injury law suits, among others.
Nurse Paralegal Job Description
Nurse paralegals assist attorneys, insurance companies, and public and private businesses. Nurse paralegal job descriptions usually include employment by law firms or insurance companies, and they may also work as independent contractors.
Nurse paralegals may study documents and medical records related to claims or law suits, and attorneys often use their expertise to interpret medical terminology and industry jargon. Further, nurse paralegals are often used to edit medical journals to ensure the language is clear, concise, and free of any misleading or conflicting information.
Insurance companies often call in the help of nurse paralegals for malpractice claims, and insurance companies use the services of nurse paralegals to interpret contracts and investigate disputes.
In courtroom settings, nurse paralegals provide their expert testimony for everything from a medical malpractice claim or a personal injury lawsuit, whether for the prosecution or for the defense. Outside of the courtroom, nurse paralegal jobs often include helping companies prepare negotiations and discussions; researching medical records and charts; studying legal issues; and interviewing all involved parties.
How to Become a Nurse Paralegal: Education for Nurse Paralegals
Those seeking nurse paralegal nurse careers know that most nurse paralegals are registered nurses (RNs). Upon receiving an RN license and working in the medical field for a number of years to obtain essential work experience, nurses interested in transitioning into nurse paralegal careers must successfully complete an ABA-approved nurse paralegal certificate program, which includes courses in legal terminology, legal contracts, legal writing, healthcare law, medical and legal ethics, medical insurance law, and malpractice law, among others.
Certification for Nurse Paralegals
The American Legal Nurse Consultant Certification Board offers the only nurse consultant certification (LNCC) accredited by the American Board of Nurse Specialties. To become eligible to sit for the LNCC exam, candidates must have: a current license as an RN; a minimum of 5 years’ experience practicing as an RN; and they must show proof of at least 2,000 hours of legal nurse consulting experience within the past 5 years.
Nurse paralegals must show evidence of at least 60 contact hours every 5 years to qualify for certification renewal. Contact hours may include continuing education, presentation information, academic education information, and publication information.
Salary Statistics for Nurse Paralegals
According to a 2010 National Utilization and Compensation Survey Report by the National Association of Legal Assistants, the national average salary for a paralegal was $52,188. Other findings of this report included:
- NALA member $52,030
- Non-member $52,502
- CP Certification $52,733
- ACP Certification $58,544
Average Salary by Legal Experience
- 1-5 years $37,282
- 6-10 years $43,747
- 11-15 years $51,227
- 16-20 years $54,128
- 21-25 years $58,774
- 25+ years $59,923
Average Salary by Type of Paralegal Education
- Undergraduate Certificate $53,781
- Post Baccalaureate Certificate $54,100
- Associate’s Degree $50,716
- Bachelor’s Degree $49,599
- Master’s Degree $56,000
- Other $53,522
According to an article on NurseWeek.com, in-house nurse paralegals often earn salaries that are comparable to nurses. Salaries average between $75 and $100 per hour, with those acting as an expert witness earning about $150 an hour. Further, it is not uncommon for independent nurse paralegals to earn between $60,000 and $80,000 per year.
Resources for Nurse Paralegals
- National Federation of Paralegal Associations
- National Association for Legal Assistants
- American Association of Legal Nurse Consultants