Medical malpractice refers to negligence, misdiagnosis, and/or failure to provide standard care to a patient by medical professionals. Especially a doctor or a nurse. A case of medical malpractice may include but is not limited to:
- Misdiagnosis or inability to diagnose
- Premature discharge
- Botched Surgery
- Leaving external things inside the patient’s body
- Operating on a different part than intended
- Fatal infection occurring at the hospital
- Failure to order appropriate tests or inability to act on it
- Sub-standard cosmetic surgeries
Other severe cases may include injury due to carelessness, suicide, and death.
Suing for medical malpractice doesn’t revert the damage done to the patient in most cases, but hefty compensations often ease the pain a bit for the patient or the close ones.
What Medical Malpractice Lawyers Do
Medical malpractice lawyers are corporate lawyers appointed to represent their clients to litigate a lawsuit against a medical professional or institution. The client may be the patient itself or the surviving family members.
You, as a medical malpractice lawyer, are expected to perform tasks as a civil litigator. Which includes investigation, interviewing clients, developing strategies, and drafting motions.
However, medical malpractice lawyers need to execute other additional tasks as:
- Interviewing, studying, and analyzing expert medical reports and opinions to support the client’s case.
- Gathering medical reports
- Taking depositions of medical professionals or other witnesses.
- Perform medical research related to the plaintiff’s case and draft the narration.
- Review doctor’s notes, work with legal nurses and analyze case merits to represent the client more effectively.
Depending on the case, the complexity of the tasks may vary, but when you are going against hospitals and medical professionals, don’t expect the job to be any less challenging.
How to Become a Medical Malpractice Lawyer
The requirements to become a certified medical malpractice lawyer vary from state to state. But minimum educational standards are implemented throughout. Here’s a brief guideline for you to understand the path to becoming a medical malpractice lawyer.
Complete Your Bachelor’s Degree
Law schools typically don’t show any bias towards pre-law majors. Although you might get an edge in the entrance exam by studying pre-law, if you are able, you can become a medical malpractice lawyer without studying it.
However, the minimum requirements suggest that you complete your four-year bachelor’s degree in any subject to be accepted at an ABA-accredited law school.
Your career preference should determine your major. If you are interested in medical malpractice, a degree in health humanities, health studies, or health care administration may as well be worth it.
A study conducted by the University at Buffalo School of Law suggests that most attorneys majored in political science, followed by psychology, criminal justice, and English. Since the undergrad degree doesn’t matter going forward, your choice of major should revolve around your interest in the particular subject or industry.
Take the LSAT
The Law School Admission Test (LSAT), conducted by LSAC is considered the gold standard to enter ABA-accredited law schools. The objective of the LSAT is to make you and the decision-makers understand the readiness for your first year of law school.
Since LSAT is designed to recognize the reasoning, reading comprehension, and writing abilities of the candidates, you don’t require to get any formal law education to appear on the exam.
Although some law schools take applications even without LSAT scores, to maximize your chances for admission to the best ones, LSAT is an essential addition to your portfolio. LSAT is divided into two parts: multiple-choice questions and writing tests.
The multiple-choice questions have four subparts that include logical reasoning, reading comprehension, and analytical reasoning questions. Although the questions aren’t tangential to law, they are essential to get by in law school. The writing test includes essay writing and can be completed eight days prior to taking the MCQ test.
As of 2022, the LSAT exam is being administered in an online proctored test environment.
Attend Law School That Specializes in Medical Malpractice
Once you’ve cleared the LSAT, you are now eligible to attend the actual law school. The three-year law course includes the first year of basic law studies like criminal laws, property laws, and constitutions. And the final two years are dedicated to medical research ethics, public health law, and medical malpractice.
Depending on your law school, you might also be trained through judicial internships and other types of practical work.
You can also concentrate on law and health studies during your final years before getting your Juris Doctor degree. Which may include food and drug law, personal injury litigation, disability law, and elder law depending on your law school.
Get a Bar License
To start practicing as a medical malpractice lawyer, you need to get a bar license from the particular federal court system where you want to practice law in.
The requirements to appear in the bar exam is different in each state, but in some states, having a reciprocal agreement, allows lawyers to practice in their jurisdiction without taking the full bar examination.
Following qualification, you can start practicing as a medical malpractice lawyer in the federal court system that you’ve taken the exam on. You can either practice individually or get hired by law firms to represent their clients.
However, getting hired as a specialist in a field like medical malpractice is challenging without years of experience. Thus, it’s best to start your career and gain experience through document reviews and research roles in law firms.
Earn a Master of Laws Degree
Earning a master’s degree is optional to practice law. But specializing and earning a master of laws (LL.M) in health laws is bound to open up great opportunities for you.
The master’s degree usually includes clinical internships and health care law classes that prepare lawyers specifically for medical malpractice.
Earning an LL.M degree illustrates to your future employer that you are a capable candidate and have expertise in the medical field.
Earning Potential as a Medical Malpractice Lawyer
In the US, a medical malpractice lawyer can earn anything on an average between $94,105 to $122,821 with a median salary of $113,380 as of April 2022. In San Francisco, the average salary can even reach up to $141,725.
The salary depends on your education, certification, and the years of experience you have in this field.
The Bottom Line
Medical malpractice lawyers represent their clients in the events of medical negligence and lack of care. To become a medical malpractice lawyer, the minimum requirement is to complete a bachelor’s degree and take the LSAT.
After which, if you are eligible, you are to attend a law school and start your journey as a lawyer by clearing the bar exam. A master’s degree (LL.M) is a valued addition to your portfolio if you are looking forward to representing clients and law firms that value the best lawyers.