Nursing Home Lawyer: Job Description, Duties and Requirements

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become a nursing home lawyer. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about degree programs, job duties and licensure to find out if this is the career for you.

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Elderly people may be financially taken advantage of or suffer from injuries at nursing homes. A nursing home lawyer, typically someone who specializes in senior citizen and age law, is needed to represent them in lawsuits or help them settle out of court. These lawyers must do research and interview staff and patients.

Essential Information

Nursing homes are governed by federal and state laws that determine rules for their operation and standards of care that they must provide to their residents. If a violation of these laws occurs, a lawyer might be hired to prosecute or defend the nursing home. These professionals are required to graduate from a law school accredited by the American Bar Association and receive state licensure in order to practice law.

Required Education Completion of law school at an institution accredited by American Bar Association
Other Requirements Must receive licensure by passing a bar examination
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)* 6% for all lawyers
Median Salary (2015)* $115,820 for all lawyers

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Job Description of a Nursing Home Lawyer

Although 'nursing home lawyer' isn't a common job title, there are lawyers who specialize in the field of nursing home law. These attorneys might be referred to as elder law attorneys since elderly individuals commonly live in nursing homes.

A lawyer specializing in nursing home or elder law works on legal issues concerning alleged violations of laws pertaining to a nursing home's operation. For example, he or she might represent an elderly individual who was injured by a nursing home's actions or a nursing home that is defending against such an allegation.

Nursing Home Lawyer Job Duties

A lawyer specializing in elder care researches laws pertaining to nursing home operation and the penalties for those violations. He or she investigates the facts of a case, gathers evidence, drafts court documents to submit during litigation, interviews witnesses and negotiates a settlement, if desired.

If the case proceeds to trial, the lawyer will make arguments before the court. If employed by an individual, the lawyer usually works to earn monetary compensation for injuries inflicted upon the alleged victim. If employed by the nursing home, he or she works to prevent the nursing home from needing to pay damages or fines.

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Requirements for Nursing Home Lawyers

All states require lawyers to be licensed, regardless of their field of practice. To become licensed, an individual must graduate from law school and pass a bar examination. Law school generally requires three years of study. The first year consists of courses covering general law topics, such as constitutional law, property, torts, contracts and criminal law. The second and third years are dedicated to elective courses and internships. Elder law classes are commonly offered as electives, and internships at firms that practice elder law are available. Some schools also offer certificate programs in elder law.

Most state's bar exams consist of two days of testing on state-specific and national laws. Bar exams can usually only be taken by individuals who have graduated from a law school accredited by the American Bar Association.

The National Elder Law Foundation offers voluntary certification. To become certified, an individual must be a licensed attorney who has practiced for at least five years, with a portion of his or her practice focusing on elder law.

Career Outlook and Salary Stats

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, BLS, (www.bls.gov), predicted that jobs for lawyers in general would increase by 6% between 2014 and 2024. The BLS also reported that the median annual salary for lawyers was $115,820 in May 2015.

When someone gets injured, abused, or exploited at a nursing home, that's where a lawyer must step in. Nursing home lawyers must go through the same education as other lawyers--college, law school, and licensure. Certification in elder law is optional, but can be beneficial if this specialty is a career goal.

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