Many legal nurse consultants have college degrees and recall laboring over term papers. Writing for attorneys is different from academic writing in several ways. (Learn how to WOW your clients with our full-day webinar intensive, “Polish Your Writing Skills“.)
Why writing for attorneys is different
1. Academic writing is heavily cited. The more footnotes, the better, according to some professors. Reports written for attorneys may contain some footnotes or links to internet sites, but this are usually kept to a minimum.
2. The person reading an academic paper can be assumed to understand common terms. The language you used was familiar to the reader – your professor. The attorney may not be familiar with terms and medical conditions. The attorney appreciates definitions and spelled out abbreviations.
3. Your professor typically gave you an expected number of pages for your paper. The attorney will rarely define page length for a report.
4. A professor rewarded you for a paper that went into great depth, and explored each nuance of a subject. An attorney wants you to get to the point. What are your conclusions, analysis, and the pertinent facts? The attorney is busy and often does not have the time to wade through volumes of material. The attorney needs you to prepare a focused report, providing details and facts related to the issues in the case. The attorney may not be willing to pay for an unfocused lengthy report containing too many irrelevant details.
5. Your professor started the semester by telling you when your assignments were due. You knew well in advance. Your attorney client may give you a rush assignment that requires you to set aside other priorities and pour out the energy needed to complete the work. If the client does not provide a due date, the LNC must be sure to complete the work in a timely manner.
6. In college, you often had a certain latitude in selecting what you would write about. The topic you picked for a term paper may have been one that intensely interested you. When you are writing for an attorney, you may have little or no choice about which case you are given to work on. Furthermore, you may have little familiarity with case issue or have little interest in that particular medical issue.
7. Colleges share guidelines about their requirements for a writing style. They define what system to use for citations, the number of inches for margins, the cover page layout, and so on. Attorneys rarely define the expected layout for a report, chronology, or timeline. This flexibility, and emphasis on content rather than format, gives the legal nurse consultant an opportunity to be creative.
Both your professor and your attorney client are interested in clear writing that conveys information in a meaningful way.
Pat Iyer MSN RN LNCC has written more than a thousand reports. She is a co-presenter of a course on polishing your writing skills. Learn more about how to WOW your client by checking out this information. Get the replay for the 4 session course to watch at your convenience.