Are you a nurse attorney?
You should consider joining us because of:
- Increased Professional Profile
- A Directory Profile Listing
- Leadership Opportunities
- National Events
Our members include experienced nurse attorneys, new nurse attorneys, legal nurse consultants, nurses in law school and lawyers in nursing school.
TAANA-TEXAS was established in 1992, and is the Texas state chapter of The American Association of Nurse Attorneys. We have been involved with various issues affecting nurses in Texas. Our experience and education as both nurses and attorneys often provides an opportunity to influence policy to improve patient safety and nursing practice. For example, TAANA-TEXAS advocated for changes to the Peer Review rules to protect the rights of nurses during the peer review process. Chapter members often monitor proposed rules, regulations, and statute changes with an eye for potential harm to patients and nurses.
Do I need an Attorney?
Why should someone hire an attorney instead of handling a legal matter themselves? Does a legal matter need an attorney? What are the differences between attorneys? How do I choose the right attorney?
Attorneys/Lawyers are educated and trained to problem solve from a legal perspective. Just going to law school is not enough because the law changes with each new statute passed by the legislature, with cases decided by Judges and courts and with each new regulation passed by administrative agencies. In order to stay current and knowledgeable about these changes in the law, attorneys must obtain continuing legal education every year they are in practice.
Because of this ever-changing legal playing field, most individuals are not equipped to represent themselves (representing oneself is called “pro-se representation”). In addition, due to family, personal, and work responsibilities very few individuals have the time required to properly represent themselves. Some areas of law depend on working relationships with the parties on the other side, relationships which the pro-se individual does not have.
Examples of individuals who learned the hard way that it is best to hire an experienced, knowledgeable attorney rather than represent themselves are unfortunately abundant:.
- The woman who did the paperwork for her own divorce only to find her ex-husband three years later challenging the previously agreed upon settlement stipulations (she spent more fighting the challenge than she would have by initially hiring an attorney to draft a proper divorce agreement).
- The employee who accepted termination of his job not knowing the employer’s actions were illegal and that there was a valid cause of action against the employer that would have resulted in significant compensation for the employee.
- The licensed health care worker whose license was suspendedreceived harsh work stipulations because he did not know how to present his case to the regulatory board and did not know what disciplinary order was fair and appropriate for his violation.
How are nurse attorneys different from other attorneys?
When representing a client in any area of law, nurse attorneys draw from their education, training and experience in both nursing and the law. Lawyers analyze legal aspects of an issue and look for the best solution to the problem for the client. Nurses are trained to observe and through the nursing process gather information, evaluate information, and determine an intervention. Nurses are also trained to develop good listening skills.
Combining a law degree with a nursing degree results in increased analytical abilities coupled with an accessible personality. Frequent comments made to nurse attorneys are “you are not like other attorneys” or “my other lawyer never listened to me like you do.” Nurse attorneys are the obvious choice for potential clients seeking help with medical-legal issues such as personal injury claims and health care licensure defense. Due to their unique perspective, nurse attorneys may also be the best choice for other legal issues such as guardianship, wills and trusts, contract disputes, and employment issues.
Nurse attorneys can read and analyze medical records on their own while non-nurse lawyers must use additional personnel or the client themselves to analyze and translate the medical records. Nurse attorneys understand medical terminology and do not have to rely upon others to explain the “medicine” or issues related to the health care environment. Understanding both the legal and medical aspects and language of a case allows the nurse attorney to be more effective than non-nurse attorneys. Because of this blending of knowledge, education and experience, nurse attorneys are able to think on their feet and do not have to rely upon a third party or the client to identify discrepancies in testimony or healthcare related records.
Even if the legal issue does not involve a directly related health care issue, a nurse attorney‘s skills developed from both professions are a bonus for any client. Nurse attorneys are natural advocates – in and outside of the courtroom.
How do Nurse Attorneys differ from Legal Nurse Consultants?
Legal nurse consultants are experienced medical professionals who review the medical records, identify the related issues and help attorneys apply them to their case. Nurse attorneys may use a Legal Nurse Consultant to review medical files or the nurse attorney may independently review the medical records.