Medical Malpractice Lawyer Career Requirements

Read for an overview on the requirements to pursue a career as a medical malpractice lawyer. Learn about the education and licensing needed to decide if it is the right career for you. Schools offering Juris Doctor degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Medical Malpractice Lawyers at a Glance

Medical malpractice lawyers specialize in misconduct lawsuits brought by patients against physicians, nurses, or other healthcare practitioners. To effectively determine the merits of each case and defend the rights of their client (either patients or healthcare providers), medical malpractice lawyers must have a solid grasp of the medical system, its procedures, and most common cases of misconduct. The table below is a general overview of the qualifications required to pursue a career in this field.

Degree Required Bachelor's and Juris Doctor (JD) degrees
Education Fields of Study Undergrad: any; graduate: law
License Bar exam in state of practice
Possible Certification American Board of Professional Liability Attorneys (ABPLA) Certification could be helpful
Key Skills Critical thinking; analytical skills; speaking
Median Annual Income (2019) $105,000*
Career Outlook (2016-2026) 8% growth (for all lawyers)**

Sources: *PayScale.com **U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

What Are the Education Requirements?

Lawyers specializing in medical malpractice cases must have both a bachelor's and a Juris Doctor (JD) degree from an accredited university. Once you have completed your bachelor's degree, you must study for and pass the LSAT examination in order to apply for law schools. If you are passionate about healthcare law, some law schools offer specializations or certificates in health law, as well as specialized courses dedicated specifically to medical malpractice litigation.

How Do I Become a Licensed Attorney?

After obtaining your JD degree, you must complete the steps to be recognized as a licensed attorney in any state you wish to practice. The licensing requirements vary by state, but they all involve the completion of the relevant bar examination. Several states have signed on to the Uniform Bar Examination (UBE), which allows students to apply for certification in multiple states with the same exam score. To research the steps required to obtain a license in your state of residence, make sure to visit your state's bar website for the relevant instructions.

Are Any Certifications Required?

Though not required, board certification is available through the American Board of Professional Liability Attorneys (ABPLA). This certification is used to confirm the attorney's proficiency in medical malpractice law. Potential clients sometimes look to certification to verify a lawyer's experience and relevant background in medical cases.

What Should I Do to Begin My Career in Medical Malpractice?

To land your first job in a medical malpractice law firm, you should consider signifying your interest in health law by taking related courses as part of your JD degree. You could also intern for other medical malpractice attorneys before graduation to learn the relevant skills. If available, joining health-related student or professional organizations is another good way to network and establish a background of knowledge in the field.

What Are the Potential Earnings and Career Outlook?

In 2019, PayScale.com estimated the median annual salary for medical malpractice lawyers at $105,000. While the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics does not track medical malpractice lawyers independently, they are included under the category for all lawyers. The BLS projects an 8% increase in job opportunities for this category between 2016 and 2026.

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