Yes, LNC subcontracting has benefits, but look before you leap.
The Risks and Benefits
Both you and the firm that hires you are taking risks. You have a risk of not getting paid if your work product is not acceptable or you’ve spent too many hours on the case. You also have a risk of losing the work if the LNC’s business becomes slower.
The LNC who hires you is taking a risk that you will be able to perform and produce work product that thrills the attorney. You are representing the LNC’s brand and thus become an important part of his or her business.
Advantages of LNC Subcontracting
Working for another legal nurse consultant gives you a lot of benefits: experience and feedback on your work product, which helps you grow and increase your confidence. The work comes to you without needing to market to attorneys. The LNC who is handing out the cases has done all the work and invested time and money to bring in the business.
Usually you receive a template, training or guidance on how to complete the request work product. You might be asked to do a medical summary, or screen a medical malpractice case for merit, or complete research, as well as other types of assignments.
Subcontractors are often used for repetitive work – for example, doing medical summaries that are used in life care plans or in product liability cases, or summarizing depositions. You might get a lot of experience reviewing just one type of case and completing just one type of work product.
You might also choose to be a subcontractor on expert witness cases, which are not repetitive and require analytical and persuasion skills.
Disadvantages of LNC Subcontracting
There are drawbacks to being a subcontractor. You are highly dependent on the LNC to give you work. Often the attorney has no contact with you, so you are not gaining a client. It is against ethical guidelines for you to market to the attorney in an attempt to get work directly from him or her.
Subcontractors are paid a portion of the dollars the LNC charges the attorney. This can be as low as one third of the billable hourly rate. When your time is taken up performing hourly work at a lower rate, you are not able to use that time for higher paid work or for marketing your own business.
Another disadvantage is that your LNC subcontracting work could come to a sudden end. This happens particularly in product liability cases when a mass of cases is settled or dropped.
How to Find Subcontracting Cases
Networking is a great way to get subcontracting cases. Share your desire for cases on LNC listservs (check out LNCExchange, a Yahoo group). Look for a local chapter of the American Association of Legal Nurse Consultants, annual conferences of legal nurse consultants, or LinkedIn groups of LNCs (join my group called Legal Nurse Consulting Marketing). Watch for posts on Facebook from LNCs looking for subcontractors.
Keep being vocal about your desire to subcontract.
And don’t overlook one source of work, often untapped: physicians who need medical records organization and medical summaries done as part of an independent medical examination. I know of an LNC who gets lots of these cases from physicians.
When You Get an Inquiry
An LNC responds to your inquiry or approaches you about LNC subcontracting. Here’s what you should clarify.
- What are the cases about?
- How should you deliver the work product?
- Will you receive a retainer from the LNC?
- What type of guidance will you get?
- Does the LNC have a sample work product?
- When does the work need to be completed?
- How much work is likely to come?
- If you need more records for a case, may you contact the law firm or does the LNC firm handle all communication?
- Will you get feedback on what you prepared?
- How should you deliver the work product?
- What will you get paid for working on the case?
- When will you get paid?
What Will Make You Shine
Whenever you are involved in helping in the legal arena, you must produce your best work. You say, “But I am inexperienced. How can I do that?” Legal nurse consulting assignments do have a learning curve, but you need to be a quick learner and recognize that you may not be paid for all the hours you spend on a case when you are learning. Ask for clear directions so that you can minimize the risk of unpaid work.
You must be reliable and complete work before it is due. Don’t practice brinkmanship. Also, observe confidentiality regarding all materials you are reviewing.
The most important thing you can do to shine is to be very clear on expectations, polish your work product, and ask for feedback so that you may continually improve. All of the LNC subcontracting cases give you valuable experience for the time when you are directly bringing in work from attorneys, if that is your goal.
One of the items you might be asked for is a set of sample work product. People interested in hiring you, whether they are LNCs or attorneys, want to see how you have tackled a case. If you have not gotten any cases yet, you may be wondering how you can produce sample work product.
I have solved that problem for you with my Report Writing Mastery on-demand online course. In this course you receive a set of actual medical records and with my personal feedback, create and refine a series of sample work product: a chronology, medical summary, screening for merit, expert witness report and analyses of expert reports. Start this course now by going to this link