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How to Become a Medical Malpractice Attorney

Every day, patients are accidentally harmed by mistakes made by medical professionals. Doctors, dentists, therapists, nurses, and others can make surgical errors, offer inappropriate treatment methods, misdiagnoses, and much more. 

Medical malpractice attorneys exist where medicine and law meet. They ensure that their clients have a fighting chance towards some kind of recovery. They use their legal expertise alongside a deep knowledge of medical terminology and standard practices to bring cases to trial. 

As a medical malpractice attorney, you’ll want to have a solid education in areas like anatomy, biology, or medical law. Additionally, a graduate degree from an accredited law school will be vital in most situations. Beyond this, having litigation experience, excellent research skills, analytical thinking, and communication skills will go a long way to making you a desirable candidate.

Sample job description

At [Your Company Name], our clients depend on our medical malpractice attorneys to have their back. They depend on us to consider all details of their medical experience and to fairly and confidently represent them and their needs when developing their malpractice lawsuit. It is our duty to make them feel comfortable, and fight for everything they deserve in compensation for medical mistakes or malpractice. We are seeking an experienced medical malpractice attorney to join our team. You need to have excellent verbal and written communication, strong research skills, analytical skills, familiarity with medical terms, and negotiation skills. We are searching for someone who is passionate, responsible, professional, and who keeps the clients’ needs at the forefront of everything that they do. If you are willing to fight for our clients’ rights and help fight against medical malpractice, then we would love to hear from you!

Typical duties and responsibilities

  • Advise and counsel clients on matters relating to injuries sustained during medical or dental care
  • Consult with medical experts to develop case theories and review medical records
  • Write and file claims, motions, and court briefs
  • Litigate medical malpractice cases in court if necessary
  • Negotiate settlement terms with defendants and their insurance companies

Education and experience

This position requires a Juris Doctorate as well as a license to practice law in the state where the candidate will work. Board certification from the American Board of Professional Liability Attorneys (ABPLA) is preferred.

Required skills and qualifications

  • Expertise in written and verbal communication
  • Knowledge of state and federal medical malpractice laws
  • Research skills
  • Analytical thinking
  • Negotiation skills
  • Litigation experience
  • Basic knowledge of medical terms

Preferred qualifications

  • Bilingual Spanish 
  • 5+ years of experience working in medical malpractice
  • Proven success in winning malpractice cases

Typical work environment

Medical malpractice attorneys typically work in offices. When they are not in the office, they are traveling to meet with clients or attending any necessary meetings at the clients’ homes, prisons, hospitals, or wherever need be to gather all the information they need and of course the courts. Attorneys have to be able to work well under pressure and stress as they need to meet certain deadlines.

Typical hours

The work hours in an office setting for a medical malpractice attorney are usually from 9 AM to 5 PM. However, many attorneys work more than 40 hours a week, especially when nearing deadlines or preparing for court proceedings.

Available certifications

There are many certifications available for medical malpractice attorneys. Here are just a few:

  • American Board of Professional Liability Attorneys Certification (ABPLA). The ABPLA is the only organization authorized by the American Bar Association to approve attorneys who are involved with legal malpractice and medical malpractice. This certification is well known and you are recognized as a leader in negligence law.
  • MEDIC First Aid BasicPlus-G2010. This certification trains you in CPR, AED, and first aid. This helps you in case you ever need to medically care for someone. Renewal is required every 2 years.
  • Board Certification in Criminal Trial Law. This certification extensively tests your knowledge when it comes to your education and courtroom experience. Obtaining this certification is a beneficial thing. Renewal is required every 5 years.
  • Board Certification in Civil Trial Law. This certification extensively tests your knowledge when it comes to your education and courtroom experience. Obtaining this certification is a beneficial thing. Renewal is required every 5 years.

Career path

Medical malpractice attorneys are required to have a Juris Doctorate from an accredited law school and a license to practice law in the state where they work. College coursework in areas like biology, anatomy, physiology, health care law, personal injuries, and related subjects is helpful and can make candidates more attractive to employers. Obtaining board certification from the American Board of Professional Liability Attorneys (ABPLA), which often requires passing a written exam, continuing legal education courses, and getting references from other legal professionals in the field, can make a medical malpractice attorney stand out.

Most attorneys start in law firms as associates, then progress on either a partner or non-partner track, leading to positions as partners, senior attorneys, or of counsel.

US, Bureau of Labor Statistics’ job outlook

SOC Code: 23-1011

2020 Employment804,200
Projected Employment in 2030875,700
Projected 2020-2030 Percentage Shift 9% increase
Projected 2020-2030 Numeric Shift71,500 increase

Medical malpractice claims are one of the most regulated types of legal claims. Many states cap the amount of money a client can win in a medical malpractice case, and the movement to reform many laws governing torts — especially when it comes to injury claims like medical malpractice — continues throughout the U.S. These state laws can change frequently. A medical malpractice attorney needs to stay on top of those changes.

The personal injury law field — including medical malpractice — is a crowded one. Medical malpractice attorneys should be aware of marketing and advertising trends in the field to make themselves or their firms stand out. According to several legal marketing companies, including the web marketing firm Digital Logic, billboards, buses, and television ads are no longer the best ways to market a medical malpractice law firm. Instead, the industry is trending toward more professional, comprehensive websites with lots of information for potential clients searching for a personal injury attorney. This information can include adding virtual web assistants like chatbots on the site to help potential clients and obtain basic information about their needs.