Nurses interested in in-house work at a law firm should consider a few things. Some of this information you may be able to obtain from a company website, and other details you would need to find out if you are selected for an interview. Do your research first.
- Is the law firm large, small or somewhere in between? This impacts firm culture, decision making, and ease of communication within the firm.
- Does the law firm do primarily plaintiff or defense work and what’s your comfort level doing one versus the other? Some nurses who are just uncomfortable doing plaintiff work, much preferring to be on the defense side.
- How many attorneys of the law firm work on medical malpractice and other personal injury cases and what is the ratio of LNCs to attorneys? Obviously this impacts both work load and job security.
- Ask about the firm’s measurement of productivity. Defense firms use time sheets and billable hours as a measure of productivity, whereas plaintiff firms do not. Some plaintiff firms may have some requirement to track time that you spend on various cases.
- What is the culture of the firm? Is it quite hierarchical and formal or is it more informal? What is the dress code? What setting are you most comfortable in?
- What is the reputation of the law firm generally and among its lawyers individually? For example, you might want to find out if any of the attorneys are members of such organizations as Best Lawyers in America, The American College of Trial Attorneys, The American Board of Trial Advocates, or other prestigious professional attorney organizations that require peer review for admittance.
- What is the rating of the firm and the attorneys on www.martindale.com? Do any of the attorneys regularly present at local and state bar seminars?
- Does the firm have a mission statement or a set of core values?
- Are any of the lawyers listed as Superlawyers (if the state uses that system of peer nomination?) Are any of the attorneys certified trial lawyers, which means that they have a great deal of experience and have gone through a rigorous process of proving their credentials.
- Is there anything positive or negative about the firm in the local legal newspaper? Reading your state’s Law Journal, which is a newspaper directed to the attorney population, is a really good way to find out what’s going on in the legal community: What are hot issues?Who’s getting in trouble for ethics violations? What new laws affect your practice? Which judge has been chastised for misbehaving in the courtroom? Which firms have had major victories?
Working in a law firm can be rewarding and a great environment in which to see how the legal system functions. Do your homework before you leap.
Pat Iyer MSN RN LNCC worked in a law firm as a subcontractor for 6 months.