Have You Considered Being an LNC Subcontractor?
You’re a nurse trained in the practice of excellence, and you want to bring your high standards to the subcontracting field.
When you consider subcontracting, carefully evaluate the plus and minus factors. Also, give attention to your unique nature.
LNC Subcontractor Questions to Ask Yourself
- Do you mind working for someone else?
- Are you eager to learn from an expert?
- Do you feel inadequate in the area of marketing?
- Would you rather get down to the work of analyzing cases?
- Does the reduced compensation make up for the benefits of subcontracting?
From my perspective, as a person who has hired a lot of subcontractors, the legal nurse consultant who hires you wants you to catch on quickly. As a subcontractor, the way that you shine is to learn quickly. I know people who wanted to be LNCs but could not get it. They couldn’t figure out how to use the computer template or organize or analyze medical records.
You must be quick because the company hiring you will not pay you for excessive hours.
Excessive hours create heartache for both the LNC and the subcontractor. There is a learning curve when you are inexperienced, and no one can precisely define how many hours it should take to go through records or complete an assignment.
Any large number of hours that stands out creates difficulty in justifying the size of the invoice. Unfortunately, this becomes a judgment call – for the subcontractor wondering if they should submit all the hours, for the LNC who hired the subcontractors wondering if they should bill all the hours, and for the attorney who is caught off guard by a hefty invoice.
For example, a colleague described to me what happened with her subcontractor. The subcontractor reviewed a case for the attorney and spent 15 hours. The attorney was happy with the expert witness’ work. Then the attorney sent the expert three depositions, which took a total of seven hours of deposition time to complete.
The expert spent 37 hours reading the deposition transcripts, looking at the medical records, thinking about the case, and submitting an invoice for 37 hours. He wanted to be paid 37 hours and was extremely upset that the LNC company owner objected to paying this.
My attorney clients’ biggest complaint when I supplied expert witnesses was, “I called her and left a message and need the report. She hasn’t responded. Can you please contact her for me?” This concern arose from a perception that the expert was nonresponsive and uninterested.
I became very concerned when I got a call like this because I understood the implications:
- An unhappy client
- A potential missed the deadline
- Difficulty collecting for the expert’s services
- Tarnishing my company’s reputation and,
- Lack of repeat business.
I was reluctant to use an expert if I saw a pattern of more than one attorney having concerns about the same person. An LNC who gives you cases needs you to return phone calls and meet deadlines. There is often no room to negotiate an extension of deadlines.
Be open to feedback to look at the proofreading if somebody has proofread your report and learn from the suggestions.
Your work product must be impeccable. For example, I require my experts to send their reports to be proofread. I found multiple problems with an expert’s report: incomplete sentences, medical abbreviations that were not spelled out, and disjointed content. After I proofread the report, I gave her feedback. She said, “I have never gotten this kind of feedback on anything I have ever done. And I thought it was perfect the way it was! I will never work with your company again.”
She sent the report to us after she had made the changes. She incorporated 99 percent of the changes and reiterated how unhappy she was with the critique. We gave cases that would have gone to her to somebody else for coachable. This expert lost thousands of dollars of future work.
I want to dwell a little on one personality type I’ve all too often encountered in the world of legal nurse consulting. Fortunately, it’s a minority. These people say, “I don’t need any help. I don’t want any help. Don’t give me any feedback. I know what I’m doing.”
We see those people in health care. In the world at large, they are called unteachable. In my world, I don’t hire unteachable people more than once.
I want to emphasize to both LNCs running their businesses and subcontractors that having an open mind is critical to success in this field.
Be respectful and grateful. “You cannot walk in and act like you run the show. You don’t ever want to step beyond your boss. If you have been subcontracted, the nurse you work under is your boss, who reports to the attorneys. Be careful in your chain of command,” says Samantha Parkhurst in her podcast with me.
Your client is the LNC or firm that hired you, not the attorney. The LNC is giving you the work and trusting you to be ethical to respect the relationship between the LNC and the attorney. It is unethical to go behind the legal nurse consultant’s back, solicit that attorney, and say, “Look, you don’t have to go through them. You can work directly with me, and I’ll save you some money.”
Some LNCs ask subcontractors to sign a non-compete agreement verifying that they will not solicit an attorney to protect this relationship. Whether you have a written agreement like this or not, it is an unwritten rule that you will not attempt to steal the LNC’s client. The LNC world is small, and word will get out that you cannot be trusted.
As Samantha Parkhurst says, “You never want to step above your boss to talk to the attorneys to try to drum up business for yourself. You never want to get yourself in a situation where you are not following your boss’s rules.”
It’s also unethical for an attorney to take a subcontractor, such as an expert witness supplied by an LNC company, and then attempt to go behind the LNC’s back and work directly with the expert. If the attorney has signed an agreement that recognizes the expert witness is under contract with the company, the attorney needs to go back through the LNC company to use the expert witness again.
I had my attorney clients agree that they would not solicit the expert witness I was supplying and attempt to go around behind me. As an LNC subcontractor, this may come up.
An Example Of Not Being Ethical
Despite this, I got a phone call from an attorney who was quite open about what he wanted. He said, “I want to know how much you pay Jean Johnson, the expert witness I’m using on my case.” I politely said, “Why do you want to know that?” “I want to know how much you pay her because I can work with her directly for less.”
I told him politely, “That’s none of your business. She’s under a contract to work on your cases through me and is not permitted to work with you directly.”
He was not satisfied with my answer. He told me he would stop sending me cases. What incentive did I have to turn my expert over to him? I was willing to let him go. And sometimes you must let the less desirable clients go, particularly those like him whose firm slowly paid our invoices.
Another aspect of this is that you, as the subcontractor, must sign a contract that lets the LNC hiring you know if the attorney approaches you for additional cases. The LNC will contact the attorney and set up the payment arrangements.
I treat my expert witnesses well, and they are very loyal to my company. I got many phone calls from experts who said, “I just got another call from the attorney who wants me to review another case, and I want to let you know.” They adhered to the terms of the agreement.
Be a Reliable LNC Subcontractor
I know bad things happen, and there are emergencies but don’t get into a pattern of being late. Being late is a massive problem in the legal world. Attorneys have deadlines. They need to turn in their expert reports by a specific date. They don’t want to hear that your cat was sick, your car broke down, or that you waited until the last minute and your computer crashed. Attorneys count on their work product to be delivered when they need it.
One of the nightmares of being a business owner and having subcontractors is the fear that the subcontractor will disappear or not complete the project on time. Lawyers have court-imposed deadlines; they are non-negotiable.
Clear communication is also essential to ensure that you fully understand the assignment, that you’re clear in working with the legal nurse consulting company, and that you’re responsive and turning in what that person needs.
Want to learn more?
Would you like a set of questions that will take the guesswork out of being a subcontractor or working with subcontractors?
You’ll receive a whole series of questions that you should ask as a subcontractor of the person who wants to hire you, not only about the role but also about the agreement and how you get paid, when you get paid, and how much you get paid.
Go to LNC.tips/Subs for these critical checklists.
If you enjoyed this blog post and check out my book, ‘LNC Subcontracting’, click here.
Whether you’re a new LNC looking for experience or a busy LNC with a growing business, this book will answer your most urgent questions about subcontracting. Grab your copy today.
Pat Iyer is president of The Pat Iyer Group, which develops resources to assist LNCs in obtaining more clients, making more money, and achieving their business goals and dreams.
Pat’s related websites include the continuing education provided on LNCEU.com, the podcasts broadcast at podcast.legalnursebusiness.com, and writing tips supplied at patiyer.com.
Get all of Pat’s content in one place by downloading the mobile app, Expert Edu at www.legalnursebusiness.com/expertedu. Watch videos, listen to podcasts, read blogs, watch online courses and training, and more.