Medical lawyers are focused on the medical industry and public health. Most of the time, they represent clients suing doctors and medical practitioners for misconduct and malpractice. “Malpractice” involves negligence by doctors, nurses, therapists, and other medical and healthcare professionals.
In this article, we dive deep into the process of how to become a medical lawyer. Read on!
What Does a Medical Lawyer Do?
Medical lawyers are similar to a typical civil litigator, who work on legal disagreements without criminal charges. As such, a medical malpractice lawyer’s job includes:
- Working with medical professionals to develop a case, including theories, reports, and testimonies
- Taking depositions from healthcare experts, personnel, and other third parties
- Working with legal nurse consultants to analyze merits, review records, and interpret doctors’ notes
- Researching the plaintiff’s condition
- Setting up independent medical exams for an objective evaluation of the plaintiff’s health
- Gathering, analyzing, and interpreting medical records
As a medical lawyer, you can specialize in specific medical malpractice such as surgery mistakes, nursing home abuse, birth injuries, or dental malpractice. To be a medical lawyer, here’s an overview of that you must have:
|Juris Doctor (JD)
|Ongoing legal education training
|Required by State
|Research, speaking, writing, negotiation, analytical, and problem-solving skills
How to Become a Medical Malpractice Lawyer
To become a medical malpractice lawyer, you typically must:
- Acquire a Bachelor’s Degree
- Pass the LSAT
- Complete Law School
- Pass the Bar
- Gain Experience
- Acquire a Master of Laws Degree
Let’s take a closer look at each step.
1. Acquire a Bachelor’s Degree
Before you can enter a law school, you must have a bachelor’s degree. You can complete courses in economics, government, and history for this. To be a medical lawyer, finish a degree program in healthcare administration, health humanities, or health studies.
You’ll get introduced to the clinical, legal, and other aspects of the medical industry and healthcare field — all of which are useful once you’re practicing as a medical lawyer.
2. Pass the LSAT
Before you get into law school, take and pass the Law School Admission Test (LSAT). As an undergraduate, you can typically complete the LSAT during your junior year.
The LSAT is a half-day exam that evaluates your critical thinking, reasoning, and reading comprehension. You can take a prep course to learn techniques and familiarize yourself with the exam’s content.
3. Complete Law School
Once accepted in a law school, complete about three years of full-time law school studies. During your first year, you focus on basic laws and concepts related to criminal, constitutional, and property law.
Then, the other two years let you take elective classes — some good options are medical research ethics and law, public health law, and medical malpractice.
During the second and third years, you gain practical experience, thanks to judicial internships, medical-legal clinics, and others.
Other areas you can focus on include biomedical law, health law, and law and health sciences. They cover:
- Disability law
- Personal injury litigation
- Science and law
- Elder law
- Food and drug law
4. Obtain a License — Pass the Bar!
After studying, you must obtain a license by passing the bar and professional responsibility exams. These exams take multiple days of testing and contain multiple-choice questions and essay writing activities.
Once again, taking a prep course can help you increase your chances of passing on the first try.
5. Gain Experience
When you have your license, you can seek out universities, governments, and law firms that hire attorneys to handle cases related to healthcare law, medical malpractice, or personal injury.
Most of the time, you need several years of experience to be an expert in a particular specialty such as medical malpractice. However, as a new lawyer, you can gain experience by joining document review groups or obtaining research roles that involve medical law.
6. Become Board-Certified
The American Board of Professional Liability Attorneys certifies medical malpractice lawyers with at least five years of experience. To get certified, you must present your documented experience and substantial involvement in medical malpractice cases over the previous three years.
7. Acquire a Master of Laws Degree
Earn a Master of Laws (LL.M) in healthcare or global health law. Apart from coursework, you may gain clinical experiences and internships. Your classes are about, but not limited to:
- Fundamentals of law
- Public health law
- Law and science
- Healthcare reform law
For example, your university may offer a variety of specific components of public health that represent the industry you’d like to pursue after graduation. Common specializations under public health include:
- Reproductive rights
- Religious rights
- Contract law
- Child welfare
- Environmental law
- Behavioral science
Obtaining a master’s degree can help you show employers your commitment and expertise in medical law, increasing your chances of a more successful career.
Medical Lawyer Job Outlook
Once you’re an experienced medical lawyer, you can provide services to various fields and organizations. For instance, the American Bar Association (ABA) offers pro bono opportunities in their Medical-Legal Partnerships (MLP) Pro Bono Support Project. They also provide other employment opportunities where you may represent someone with a more complicated case.
In terms of earnings potential, the median wage for lawyers in 2020 was $126,930 per year, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. The salary range is between $61,490 and $208,000. According to Glassdoor, the average base pay of medical lawyers is around $112,032 per year.
Like most personal injury lawyers, medical malpractice lawyers charge on a contingency fee basis. In this setup, you take a percentage of the plaintiff’s net recovery.
Alternatives to Consider
You can also look into several alternatives that are related to the law but don’t necessarily require you to be a lawyer.
For instance, you can an arbitrator, a conciliator, or a mediator — all of these jobs require you to work outside of the court system to resolve issues and disputes between parties. They only require a bachelor’s degree to practice, and you won’t have to attend law school.
You can also work as a paralegal or a legal assistant. In this scenario, you’ll be supporting lawyers by organizing files, writing documents, and conducting research. You’ll also only need an associate’s degree.
Check out our other legal How-To articles!
About The Author: Michael is an aspiring lawyer who likes to spend his free time researching different topics of law, especially about what is legal and what is not. He enjoys reading articles, watching documentaries, and attending lectures to become more informed about the law. He hopes that one day he will be able to use this knowledge to help people in need. Michael also has a passion for writing which led him to pursue journalism as his minor in college.
Through his studies, he has learned how to write professionally with clarity and precision. He is currently writing a novel about the life of a young lawyer who fights for justice in a world that is filled with corruption. Michael hopes to use his skills in writing and researching to pursue a career as an attorney one day. In addition, he also volunteers at legal aid clinics to gain more experience. From this volunteering experience, he has been able to help people better understand their rights and the legal system.
Michael is a dedicated individual with a passion for law and writing, and these qualities make him an excellent candidate for any legal field. He is eager to use his skillset to prove himself as a lawyer in order to contribute in making the world a better place.