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LNCtips.com: Is $125/Hour Myth?


Getting paid $125 an hour sounds too good to be true.  Is the $125/hour pay level for legal nurse consultants a myth?  The American Association of Legal Nurse Consultants (AALNC) recently released the results of its 2011 salary survey report.  Are you ready to learn if a fee of $125 an hour is a myth or reality for most LNCs?

AALNC conducted the salary survey in November 2011.  Over 500 legal nurse consultants responded to the internet survey.  The survey report offers some interesting results.

According to the survey, most (60.9%) legal nurse consultants charged their clients anywhere from $50 to $150 per hour.  ($125 an hour wasn't an option in the survey.) In that grouping, more LNCs charged $50 to $100 per hour than those that charged $101 to $150 per hour.  Less than 10% of non-testifying legal nurse consultants charged $151 or more per hour.  The remaining LNCs either charged a different rate than the options listed on the survey (less than $50 per hour, perhaps) or received their pay in a different way.

That's how much legal nurse consultants CHARGED.  How much did LNCs actually MAKE?  Before we discuss how much LNCs earned, let's view some potential earnings by the amount that LNCs charged per hour.  Let's multiply the hourly fees by 2000 hours, the standard number of hours worked in a year (40 hours per week x 50 weeks).  The calculation assumes two weeks of annual unpaid vacation, and doesn't account for time spent on marketing and administrative tasks.  The potential annual earnings are as follows:

  • $50 per hour = $100,000 annually

  • $75 per hour = $150,000 annually

  • $100 per hour = $200,000 annually

  • $125 per hour = $250,000 annually

  • $150 per hour = $300,000 annually and so on.

  • Did the salary survey bear out the annual earnings projected by the LNCs' hourly charges?  Actually, the survey indicated that legal nurse consultants earned far less.  The largest percentage of those who worked part-time (32.8%) earned $10,000 or less annually.  To be fair, most of those who earned that annual salary worked less than five hours per week.  To put it another way, the top earnings of $10,000 annually for those who worked five hours per week was $40 per hour ($10,000 divided by 250 [5 hours per week times 50 weeks]).  Part-timers whose primary medical/legal practice was in consulting firms, hospitals, independent practice, and insurance companies made the least amount annually.

    Those who worked full-time as legal nurse consultants did a bit better.  Almost 29% of full-time LNCs made over $90,000 annually.  (The survey didn't specify amounts greater than $90,000).  That's more than $45 per hour ($90,000 divided by 2000 [40 hours per week times 50 weeks]).  Forty percent or more of full-timers whose primary medical/legal practice was in business/industry, hospitals, and independent practice made more than $90,000 annually

    Full-time legal nurse consultants in consulting firms, insurance companies, and law firms earned as low as $40,000 in some cases.  However, a small number (18.8% to 33.3%) of respondents in all of these practice areas earned over $90,000 per year.  The survey didn't specify it, but these types of companies often offer paid benefits, such as vacation and disability, health, life, and dental insurances, that augment the salaries of their legal nurse consultants.

    Independent legal nurse consultants faced the most variability in earnings.  Part-timers earned from $0 - $10,000 (35% of respondents) to over $90,000 (2.5% of respondents) annually.  The remaining 62.5% of part-timers earned between $10,001 and $90,000 annually.  The earnings of full-time independent LNCs were also variable, but the percentages were reversed.  Only 3.9% of full-time respondents earned $0 - $10,000 while 43.1% of full-time respondents earned over $90,000 annually.  The remaining 47% of full-timers earned between $10,001 and $90,000 annually

    Let's get back to the original question.  Is an hourly rate of $125 an hour a myth?  It's difficult to tell due to the way the survey was structured.  However, it's clear that even though some independent legal nurse consultants may charge $125 an hour, most LNCs earn far less than the potential annual salary of $250,000.

    This is only a smattering of the information contained in the salary survey. It's available free of charge to AALNC members and for a fee for non-members. Get a copy of the survey by going to AALNC.org.

    ...Katy Jones